Andy Murray had said he was determined to avoid a repeat of last year, when he went into a four-month slump following his defeat in the final of the Australian Open, but the early signs are not promising. In only his second match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the final in Melbourne, Murray went out of the Masters Series event in Indian Wells, California on Saturday night when he was beaten 7-6, 6-3 by a 21-year-old American, Donald Young, who is ranked No 143 in the world.
Murray has made a worse start to his post-Australia campaign this year. Twelve months ago he won one round in Dubai and reached the quarter-finals in Indian Wells in his two subsequent appearances; this time around he lost heavily to Marcos Baghdatis first time out in Rotterdam and has now fallen at the first hurdle at a tournament where he reached the final two years ago. Since beating David Ferrer to reach the final in Melbourne, Murray has played seven sets and lost them all.
Young, who has struggled to live up to the promise he showed as a junior, enjoyed the biggest win of his career at the expense of an opponent who started well but looked rusty and badly in need of match play. Murray struggled to find his rhythm, appeared to have difficulty adjusting to the pace of the court and did not move as freely as usual.
Young, enjoying the support of his home crowd, quickly gained confidence from his opponent's travails and by the end was hitting some spectacular winners.
"Most of it was not great today," a subdued Murray said afterwards. "I didn't serve particularly well, I didn't move very well. Early on in tournaments when you're not hitting the ball well, running a lot of balls down and making your opponent play, you can sometimes get the job done. But I didn't move particularly well and he hit a lot of winners."
Young, who had never previously beaten a top 10 player, said: "It's by far the biggest win of my career. I thought I played pretty consistent. I'm sure he didn't play his best today. I got a little nervous. Some double faults didn't make it halfway up the net. I've been in this position a couple of times with a few players and had not won the match. I just told myself this time I was going to see it through and not let the nerves get the best of me."
Murray will head for his next tournament in Miami, which begins next week, after completing his doubles commitments in Indian Wells with his brother, Jamie. Having knocked out Brazil's Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the first round, the Murrays were due to play the Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey last night.
Rafael Nadal beat South Africa's Rik De Voest 6-0, 6-2 on his return to tournament play after suffering a hamstring injury in Australia. Juan Martin del Potro maintained his recent progress after almost a year out with a wrist problem; the former US Open champion beat Ivan Ljubicic, the defending champion at Indian Wells, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, yet another player rebuilding his career, enjoyed his best result since coming back from a seven-month break with a foot injury when he beat David Ferrer, the world No 6, 7-6, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed in the women's event, crushed the American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2, but Li Na and Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Peng Shuai and Christina McHale respectively. The former world No 1, Dinara Safina, who has dropped to No 108 in the world rankings, beat Daniela Hantuchova, twice a champion at Indian Wells.
Elena Baltacha, having knocked out Roberta Vinci in the first round, was beaten by another Italian in the second, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to Flavia Pennetta, the world No 15. "The positive is I'm getting closer and closer every time," the British No 1 said. "It's disappointing, but for me the most important thing is that I'm not losing one and one, I'm in with a sniff.
"I've put myself in a position where I've played more of those kind of players on a regular basis. I have played a lot of the top players, I knew what kind of level to expect and I went in very confident in my own ability. It's nice that I've won a round here and had a great performance today."Reuse content