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Andy Murray Upset by World No. 92 at BNP Paribas Open
It quickly became déjà vu all over again for Andy Murray at Indian Wells on Saturday night.
The No. 4 ranked Murray lost to No. 92 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-4, 6-2. He had also lost his first match of the 2011 tournament in straight sets, 7-6, 6-3, to No. 143 Donald Young, the 22-year-old American who has been so promising for so long.
At the same time that the sense of déjà vu was growing, the sold-out crowd in the stands on Saturday night could scarcely believe what they were seeing as Murray's serve was broken once in the first set and twice in the second. Murray has sometimes been a notoriously slow starter during his early career, but he usually plays better and better as the second and third sets develop.
The crowd's growing shouts of encouragement for Murray also reflected their awareness that he had come into the BNP Paribas Open this season in sharp contrast to last year, with one of the best record's on tour: a 14-2 mark, including a title in Brisbane, a semifinal appearance in the Australian Open, and a win over previously undefeated No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a Dubai semifinal last weekend.
For his career, the 24-year-old British No. 1 now has an overall record of 15-7 at Indian Wells, with appearances in the final in 2009, a semifinal in 2007, and a quarterfinal in 2010. But he will not improve on those finishes this year.
"I'm Not Sure Exactly Why That Happened Tonight"
Given Murray's overall career history at Indian Wells and his recent form, the result against Garcia-Lopez is puzzling. In his post-match interview, Murray confessed, "I'm not sure exactly why that happened tonight." But he was quick to credit his opponent, "he hardly missed a ball the whole match. You know, he plays his best tennis on clay courts, and I almost felt like we were playing the match on a clay court."
Specifically, Murray noted, "If I dropped the ball short, he made me run, made me pay. He had a lot of forehands banging on the line on big points. Yeah, he played great tennis tonight." He added, "With the level of tennis nowadays you get no easy first round matches, and if you play a poor match, that's what happens."
Earlier in the week, Murray had made a point of saying he liked the speed of the Plexipave hardcourt at Indian Wells this year: "Normally when I've come here I've found it pretty quick, tough to control the ball. This year it seems almost slow, which is good." Beyond giving Murray time to control the ball off the bounce, the surface also enhances his extraordinary mobility around the court. Indeed, 18 of his 22 career titles have come on indoor or outdoor hardcourts. But on Saturday night, Murray said the court played more like a clay court than a hardcourt.
American Ryan Harrison Claims Second Biggest Upset of the Day
Garcia-Lopez will face 19-year-old unseeded American Ryan Harrison in the third round. Just before the Murray match against Garcia-Lopez began, the No. 72 Harrison upset No. 25 seed, Victor Troicki of Serbia, 7-6, 6-3, for the second time in his young ATP career. He also defeated Troicki in Shanghai in 2011 when the Serbian player was ranked No. 16 in the world.
The 2011 win over Troicki was the second to turn heads in the direction of the highly promising young Harrison, arguably the best athlete among America's players in their early twenties. The fiery teenager's first win over a Top 20 player was at the 2010 U.S. Open when he upset No. 15 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. Ljubicic had won the BNP Paribas Open earlier in 2010.
9 of 13 Seeds Move On
Harrison's win over Troicki yesterday was one of the day's only other upsets at Indian Wells. Overall, 9 of the 13 seeds who played on Saturday were winners. Those who lost included Florian Mayer of Germany (18) and Frenchmen Richard Gasquet (16) and Julian Benneteau (32).
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won comfortably over Kazakhstan's Andre Golubev 6-3, 6-3, and No. 30 seed Andy Roddick survived a close call against Poland's Lukasz Kubot, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Kubot served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but faltered after a foot-fault call at 15-all lead to a double fault, two loose volleys, and the loss of the game. Roddick proceeded to play better and better from there as the match moved through the third set.
Americans Mardy Fish and John Isner also advanced to the third round, while wildcards Sam Querry lost to No. 11 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, and Robbie Ginepri lost to Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka, both in tight three-setters.
Murray: "I was hitting the ball really, really well in practice the whole week."
Thinking back on his preparation for the Garcia-Lopez match, Murray said, "I mean I played great in practice, was hitting the ball really well. I felt pretty fresh. I didn't move my best tonight, but it didn't feel like I was moving badly. I was playing really really good tennis the whole of the week and the build-up to it."
Compared to last year, when he had a difficult time overcoming the loss of the Australian Open final to Djokovic, Murray said, "I was feeling way way better. I was hitting the ball much better in practice. Mentally, I was feeling much better, too. I was feeling way more focused and confident."
Among Murray's big criticisms of his performance was his 27% success rate in returning serve for the match. "Yeah, my return let me down," Murray said. His normally reliable backhand also let him down: "I hit my backhand poorly tonight, no question." And finally, he added, "I probably could have done a better job when I had my chances and putting pressure on him, getting more returns, and more depth on my returns so I could dictate some of the big points." Murray said, "I squandered so many chances. I had Love-40 two or three times, Love-30 a number of times, and didn't break. For the match Murray was unable to break even once; he had seven break point chances.
"Last year, it was a lot easier for me to look at it and know why it happened. This year it was completely the opposite." Going over the video of the match with Ivan Lendl in preparation for the next ATP 1000 event in Miami may help provide some of the answers Murray is searching for.
An Update on Murray Working with New Coach Ivan Lendl
In his press conference two days before his first match, Murray was asked how the work was going with new coach Ivan Lendl. Murray replied, "We spent 10 days in Miami before Dubai, spent a lot of time on court together, just what we needed. We did a lot of good work before Dubai. He'll be in Miami and with me for the next 6-7 weeks after Miami's done."
Murray continued, "We have a lot of things in common. We both like hard work. He's very professional. He didn't leave any stone unturned when he played. And he was one of the first guys to start taking the physical side of the game seriously. I knew his personality before we began working together. And it's all been good.
As for what specific parts of his game, he and Lendl have been working on, Murray talked only about his forehand: "I don't want to go into details. But if you watch, my forehand is very different, where I move my my feet. I've been hitting it really well this week. And it's one of the most important shots as we go into the clay court season."
Lendl hasn't asked him to retool the forehand, "It's just a bigger weapon now than it was before. Also, because everybody moves so well, it can shorten matches. The more free points you can get, the less the toll on your body."
Finally Murray offered some insight into what Lendl has brought to his game and his team, "Mentally, Ivan has helped with my confidence, I feel very calm on the court now. He's been really great with the other guys I work with, too, which isn't always the case. He hasn't come in with a massive ego. He's been excellent with the other guys as well.
"If I Stopped Playing Now…"
Legendary American tennis pro and teacher Vic Braden, who was in the press gathering, told Murray he's tired of hearing people talk about what Murray hasn't yet accomplished, ending by emphasizing "I applaud you for what you have done. "Murray laughed and responded, "A first. Thanks!"
Then he added, "For me personally, if I stopped playing now and I actually looked back to when I was a child, to when I started playing, I would have signed up for my career, no question. I would never have thought I would have gotten to this level. No chance I would have thought that. But I think once you get there, I mean for me personally, I now want to achieve more than what I have. I'm starting to grow up, starting to mature, starting to be calmer on the court. I'm happy with what I've achieved so far, but I'd like to achieve more, as well.
Looking Forward to the Olympics
Murray said he's being asked about the London Olympics frequently as the summer grows ever closer."I've been asked about it a lot the last couple of months. I'm getting very excited for it. When I played in Beijing, I played really badly [Murray lost in straight sets to Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei in his first match], but it was still one of the best experiences of my sporting career, staying in the Olympic Village with the other athletes, and seeing some of the best athletes in the world."
In London he faces a different kind of dilemma: "I would like to stay at the Village again, but there's a good chance it's going to be an hour and a half from Wimbledon, so it sort of depends on the traffic. If there's another way of the athletes getting transported around London in say 45 minutes or so I'd for sure stay there at the Village. I live 15 minutes from Wimbledon, though, so If it's gonna be an hour an a half I'll stay at home."
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