Murray recovers to beat Donskoy
Andy Murray overcame an abysmal start to see off the challenge of unheralded Russian Evgeny Donskoy in his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Playing for the first time since losing the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic, the world number three found himself 5-1 down in the opening set against a player ranked 80 places below him.
Murray recovered some composure but still dropped the first set before clawing his way back to win 5-7 6-2 6-2.
The Russian looked competitive from the start but Murray was struggling and found himself facing two break points in the fourth game, the second of which he sliced into the net to hand Donskoy a 3-1 lead. Murray had the chance to level in the next game but Donskoy rose to the challenge, producing two stunning forehands to preserve his advantage.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Scot in game six and Donskoy needed no second invitation, applying pressure on his opponent who put a backhand wide to trail 5-1. Murray managed to pull a break back in the next after a wild forehand from Donskoy before holding. And the set was back on serve in game nine.
The third seed looked much improved now but three more sublime shots from Donskoy, including an audacious lob which dropped in at the backline, gave the Russian a chance to take the set in game 12. Murray saved two break points but Donskoy was too powerful on the third and he clinched the opening set 7-5 after 62 minutes on court.
In the second set Murray made the first move with a break of serve in game five. Murray opened up a 5-2 lead when the Russian failed to lift a forehand over the net. That left the world number three serving for the set and he levelled the match with a powerful forehand which Donskoy was unable to return.
Murray broke his opponent twice more early in the decider. The second break was particularly sweet for the Scot who, at 40-0 ahead in game five, played a stunning forehand past Donskoy's outstretched arm. Eventually serving for the match at 5-2, Murray faced four more break points but wrapped up the win when Donskoy fired a forehand long.
Murray said afterwards he was not surprised by his slow start after six weeks without a competitive match.
"I haven't played a lot of matches so I didn't take the points as soon as I would have liked, but I hit the ball well at the end of the match," he said on Sky Sports 4. "I hope I play better at each match. I haven't played well here the last few years and I just need to get matches under my belt."
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