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Andy Murray ousted from Indian Wells, California by Alexander Bublik, who earns first-ever victory in the desert

Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in action against Andy Murray of Great Britain at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2022. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

Alexander Bublik had been 0-2 lifetime against Andy Murray and his history at the BNP Paribas Open was brief and unsuccessful.

But none of that mattered on Sunday afternoon, when Bublik beat Murray 7-6(9), 6-3 in two hours and one minute during second-round action. The Kazakh saved all six of the break points he faced while firing 11 aces past his opponent to advance in the desert.

“It’s really tennis paradise,” Bublik said, referencing the tournament’s slogan.

But it hadn’t been for the 24-year-old prior to Sunday. Heading into this fortnight he had never played in an Indian Wells main draw, having failed in two qualifying attempts. The second unsuccessful effort in 2018 was no fault of his own; he was forced out of the final round of qualies due to injury.

“I have a tough relationship with Indian Wells,” Bublik noted. “I haven’t played for four years. I broke my ankle here–my first big injury here. I could not come the next years…. But I managed to get through and I’m happy with the win.”

Andy Murray of Great Britain in action against Taro Daniel of Japan during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 March 2022. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

“I had all of the opportunities really in the first set” lamented Murray, who saw three set points come and go in the tiebreaker. “Both of us had some chances [in the tiebreaker], but in the first set I certainly created more of the opportunities and I didn’t take them.

“He obviously came up with some good serves at times but I certainly had my chances, and against players that play that style of tennis and have obviously big serves and (are) not easy to break, you need to–when you get those chances–be ruthless. I just didn’t quite play well enough in those moments today and that’s the thing that obviously I want to turn around.

Obviously, some of that can be down to confidence and some of it also down to the way that you’re also playing as well, and because maybe I’ve not felt like I’m playing my best in those moments–maybe not making always the right decisions or sometimes holding back a bit too much or sometimes going for a little bit too much. Yeah, that’s the thing that obviously needs to change.”

Murray also has a wild card into the Miami Open, which he will play before skipping the clay-court swing. Following Miami the 34-year-old Scot will team back up with coach Ivan Lendl to prepare for the grass-court season.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.