California: Top seed Novak Djokovic and number three Andy Murray found themselves facing upset dangers as both tennis elites struggled to opening victories on Sunday at Indian Wells Masters.
Djokovic, the world number one, only just hung onto his undefeated record in 2013, posting a scrappy 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 defeat of Italian Fabio Fognini after winning the first set in 19 minutes and leading 4-2 in the second.
Murray rallied to overcome Russian surprise Evgeny Donskoy 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Djokovic said that beginning play on a new surface is never easy and he lost his way in a contest, in which Fognini saved a match point late in the second set before finally fading in the third to allow Djokovic to squeeze through.
“I started really, really good and I felt great physically. The confidence level was high obviously because of the run I had this year. I had a very bad game, couple of unforced errors, got him back in the match.
“I’m not concerned; I’ve been in this situation before where I had minor setbacks in a match, especially in the opening matches where I’m trying to get used to the court, the conditions.”
Murray looked well on his way to going down at the start in the California desert. Disaster was only narrowly avoided as the seed gathered his resources to finally squeeze out the win in two-and-a-quarter hours.
“I felt good before the match today, but I felt good before my match last year, as well,” said Murray. “I don’t know why I didn’t play well last year.
“This year I started slow and I was probably nervous, because even though I had been practising well, you know, having it in the back of your head that you played poorly the last couple of years and struggled, that’s always going to be a thought.”
Murray now faces Lu Yen-Hsun, who beat Slovak Martin Klizan 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5).