Andy Murray has been handed a tough draw in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells but has a good chance of going far in the tournament.
The reigning Wimbledon champion could meet world No. 1 Rafael Nadal as early as the quarter-finals in this competition.
But with the Scot ever improving since his back surgery last September, the first Masters 1000 tournament of the new season offers Murray the chance to return to top form.
Speaking before the tournament, the 26-year-old commented that he felt he was returning to full fitness:
The last couple of weeks I've really started to feel normal.
I wasn't expecting to feel perfect in January but as an athlete it can be frustrating when you're trying to come back to play your best.
I'm looking forward to hopefully playing some good tennis over the next month. I'm starting to move well again and feel comfortable in my movement.
Murray was given a bye into the second round of the competition where he will face the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol on Saturday.
Rosol is no pushover—he knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon in 2012—but a tough early match for Murray will force him to play well early on.
And considering the Olympic gold medallist's recent form, there is every chance Murray can go far in California.
Despite the recent back surgery, Murray has performed relatively well in the early stages of the season.
Last week saw him reach the semi-finals of the Mexican Open in Acapulco where he was knocked out in three sets by Grigor Dimitrov.
Murray also reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and in Rotterdam earlier in the year.
These results suggest that Murray's form is on the up, and Indian Wells could offer a great opportunity to put in a good showing as the hard-court season comes to a close.
Murray is currently No. 6 in the world rankings, a factor which has put him in the same side of the draw as Nadal, Roger Federer and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka.
He will therefore face an incredibly tough challenge if he is to win the tournament.
However, with Murray still looking to find his best form, a run to at least the quarter-finals would constitute a strong showing.
As well as Rosol, Murray will likely have to defeat either Milos Raonic or Jerzy Janowicz to make it that far.
Both huge hitters, a win against Raonic or Janowicz would be an impressive feat from Murray. And he is certainly up to the task with early glimpses showing the Scot is on his way back to top form.
Murray has already claimed a win this year at Indian Wells. He and fellow Brit Jonny Marray defeated Gael Monfils and Juan Monaco in the first round of the doubles competition.
If Murray can get on a winning run, he should go deep into this competition and set himself up for a season in which he will attempt to eclipse the achievements of 2013.
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