Indian Wells CC (Clock Change)
Morning, all. I hope you've all shaken off the effects of giving up an hour's sleep last night, and are ready for a pretty full day at Indian Wells. Today's Order Of Play is chock full of good matches, with two of TW's favorites - Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - ready to make their tournament debuts.
I'm not sure Andy Murray got to sleep last night.
Yesterday evening, after Maria Sharapova briskly dismissed Gisela Dulko, I slipped into one of the press seats next to Neil Harman of the London Times. I've watched a few Murray matches in the past with Neil, and he (and the rest of the British press contingent) have had nothing but praise for Murray's physical and mental state at this tournament. When Murray beat Djokovic in Dubai 10 days ago, apparently shrugging off any lingering disappointment from an Australian Open semi final defeat, he looked to have banished any fears of the early season slump which afllicted him in 2010 and 2011.
Murray's match with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez started like a hand grenade going off. Both players struck the ball beautifully right from the start: a 25 shot rally in the first game was followed by several more sustained high quality rallies. Serving at 2-3, Garcia-Lopez seemed to lose the plot, and he fell behind 0-40 with a pair of regulation forehand errors and a double fault. But Murray was unable to take any of the break points, causing Neil to mutter softly then dash off a rueful tweet.
Things got worse for Murray at 4-4, deuce, when he sent a smash off a teasing slice lob inches wide then pushed a groundstroke long to give up a break. Garcia-Lopez served out the set with aplomb, then broke again to start set 2. He fought off three more break points at 2-1, then collected one more break of his own on the way to a genuine upset (but very well earned) victory, 6-4 6-2.
After the match, Murray was gracious in defeat, saying his opponent had rarely missed a ball. Murray acknowledged that the current level of tennis meant there were no easy first round matches.
Garcia-Lopez will face Ryan Harrison in the next round. I watched Harrison beat Viktor Troicki yesterday evening, in the excellent company of long time TW regular Jane (jb). The match was punctuated by multiple instances of the electronic scoreboards and the umpire's mic going on the fritz, to the great amusement of the crowd on Stadium 2. If one of the players asked to challenge, the crowd would provide its own "aaaaaaa-aaaaaa-ay!" commentary to the completely invisible "Hawkeye replay," after which Fergus Murphy would inform the players and crowd of the invisible verdict. Harrison was well worth his win, despite a wobble serving for the match (he was an insurance break up, mind).
I mentioned the tasty order of play, so let's take a look: Del Potro is first up on Stadium 1 (*waves to Del Pony and gauloises) vs Matosevic, then we get a first look at Rafael Nadal after a break following his efforts Down Under. Azarenka/Kuznetsova is a promising WTA R32 tie, and the day session is capped with Tsonga vs Llodra. Then Federer takes on American teen Denis Kudla, with Pennetta/Radwanska rounding things off.
On the outside courts, Lopez/Baghdatis and Ferrer/Dimitrov are attractive ATP ties on Stadium 2. Petra Kvitova plays rising American Christina McHale later on Stadium 2, and there's a Zheng/Li all-China WTA clash on Stadium 3.
I'll be setting the table for some of the matches to come for the rest of the week, and Pete will be giving his own take on developments, so we've got you covered. As always, enjoy today's tennis!