It remains a real mystery why Andy Murray and Indian Wells are not a good match and following the world No1’s shock opening round defeat to qualifier Vasek Pospisil on Saturday, the Scot admits he is puzzled by his lack of success there.
Murray had never dropped a set to the 129th-ranked Vospisil in any of their previous four meetings but was outplayed by the Canadian, who claimed the biggest win of his career with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) triumph.
For a second time this season, the world No1 has crashed out early to a serve-and-volley player, with the loss to Pospisil reminiscent of Murray’s exit to Mischa Zverev in the Australian Open fourth round last January.
Murray was up a break twice in the opening set but still lost it, and broke back to draw level in the second but faltered in the tiebreak to surrender.
“My results in my career have been fantastic against serve-and-volley players, so maybe it’s something I need to practice a little bit more,” said Murray after the loss. “But I have never really practiced playing against serve-and-volleyers in my career. But when I have come up against them, it’s normally been a game style I have enjoyed playing against.
“Today it wasn’t so much the serve/volley that was the problem. It was my own serve rather than not sort of getting enough opportunities when he was serving. So I think that was more the problem tonight.”
The 26-year-old Pospisil, who had only three previous top-10 wins heading into the match and lost his last 11 encounters against top-10 opposition, was thrilled with his breakthrough success as he booked a third round meeting with Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
“I felt like a big result was coming, because I believe in my abilities, but just kind of had to put the pieces together again,” said Pospisil. “Obviously to beat the No1 player in the world is incredible. It’s the biggest win of my career, and I’m just thrilled right now.”
Pospisil, a Wimbledon doubles champion alongside Jack Sock in 2014, had a troubled 2016 season that saw him win just 10 matches, against 23 losses. He dropped out of the top-100 after starting the year ranked 39.
“Just personal things, professional things. Obviously, I don’t really want to get into all of the details, but it was a very distracting year, a lot of stuff going on off the court,” said Pospisil of the reasons behind his 2016 slump.
“Just wasn’t myself really, or the player that I have been my whole career, loving competition and being out there. Just kind of went through a little bit of a lull personally, and just kind of found my hunger again.
“That actually lasted for a very long time, almost the whole year, a long period of time. I learned a lot about myself. And, honestly, it was a good year in that aspect if I look at it.
“I feel like I came out a little bit more wise about life, about myself. I think that’s why I’m also now enjoying my time on the court so much more these days. The last few months I have been kind of stopping myself during matches and realising how happy I am to even be competing and playing tennis.”
Murray has made it past the quarters just once in Indian Wells in the last eight years and it’s only one of two Masters 1000 events the 29-year-old is yet to win.
On his sub-par record in the California desert, Murray said: “I don’t know exactly why it is, because in practice here normally I play pretty well. Some years I played well. Some years it just hasn’t quite happened for me. I don’t know exactly why that is.”
A TROUBLED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CALIFORNIA DESERT
Murray has lost before the quarter-finals in five of his last appearances at Indian Wells. It remains the only Masters 1000 tournament, along with Monte Carlo, that continues to elude the Scottish world No1.
2017 SECOND ROUND
Vasek Pospisil bt Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6 (5)
After winning the Dubai title, it looked like Murray had got his season back on track but instead he lost to Pospisil for the first time in five meetings with the Canadian.
2016 THIRD ROUND
Federico Delbonis bt Andy Murray 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3)
Murray lost to a 53rd-ranked Delbonis last year after hitting 44 unforced errors and citing windy conditions as a hindrance. Murray was up a break in the third but still crashed out.
2014 LAST 16
Milos Raonic bt Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Raonic fired 15 aces in his three-set win over Murray on the 20th anniversary of his family’s emigrating from the former Yugoslavia (now Montenegro) to Canada.
2012 SECOND ROUND
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez bt Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2
Murray said he was feeling great heading into Indian Wells that year but was blown off the court by Garcia-Lopez. The Brit was unable to convert all seven break points he created that day.
2011 SECOND ROUND
Donald Young bt Andy Murray 7-6 (4), 6-3
Murray fell to a 21-year-old Young, ranked 143 at the time. It came on the back of a first round loss in Rotterdam and a heavy defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.