On paper, it looks like a place Andy Murray could dominate. Hard courts. The U.S., where the Scot spent weeks of his off-season. A big-time event. But, for reasons even Murray can’t quite name, his haul of 45 tour-level titles is still missing one of the most prestigious crowns in all of tennis: a BNP Paribas Open title trophy from Indian Wells.
Murray has played at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event 11 times, every year since 2006. He’s had great runs, including in 2009, when he reached the final but fell to Rafael Nadal, and in 2007 and 2015, when Murray made the last four but fell to Novak Djokovic both times.
Murray has also had forgettable appearances in the desert, such as 2006, 2011 and 2012, when he fell in the second round all three years.
“I have never really felt that I played my best tennis here,” Murray said last year after his third-round defeat to Argentine Federico Delbonis. “I have tried and had many different preparations, where I’ve got here early and spent a lot of time on the courts, and sometimes I arrive later… Obviously it takes time to get used to new conditions regardless of where it is, but I have just never really found a way to get comfortable here throughout my career. It’s a shame.”
Masters Of The Masters: ‘Big Four’ Riding Wave Of Dominance
But if there were ever a year in which Murray could change his luck and win one of his two missing Masters 1000 titles, the other is Monte-Carlo, 2017 certainly seems like the season.
The Scot has won the past two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, finishing 2016 with his third Shanghai Rolex Masters crown and his first Paris Masters title to bring his career total to 14. Murray then ended the season by taking another “Big Title”, his first championship run at the ATP Finals in London.
Masters 1000 Champions
He’s hardly slacked off to start 2017 as well. Murray reached the final in his first ATP World Tour event, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, before falling to Djokovic in three sets. On Saturday, the Brit captured his first ATP World Tour title of the year by beating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in straight sets at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Murray has now reached the final in 14 of his past 16 tournaments, including seven of his past eight. “It’s been a great run. Can’t complain about much,” he said after winning Dubai.
For inspiration in Indian Wells, Murray might look to his Paris breakthrough this past November. Before he won the indoor Masters 1000 title for the first time last year, the Scot had room for improvement at that event as well.
Murray had reached the final only once before, in 2015 (l. to Djokovic), and had experienced early losses there, including in 2012 when he fell in the third round to Jerzy Janowicz. Yet in November, Murray went unbeaten in Bercy.
Through The Years: Murray At The BNP Paribas Open
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