It took three sets, but fifth-seeded Andy Murray got the job done against Lukas Rosol in the second round of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open. The reigning Wimbledon champion prevailed, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The victory is Murray's 300th on hard court, per ATP World Tour. That puts him sixth on the list of active hard-court wins leaders:
Rosol was a game challenger, but he faded as the match went on. Murray's superior physical condition allowed him to maintain the pressure on the 28-year-old Czech deep into the third set.
Both players served extremely well in the first set. Rosol won 21 of his 32 service points, while Murray was slightly worse, at 17-of-26. The difference between the two was that Rosol won both of his break-point opportunities.
The second set didn't start off well for the Czech, as he was broken in the first game of the set, which made The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg think back to Murray's last two years at Indian Wells:
Now Lukas Rosol breaks Murray to open the second set. Worth remembering that Andy lost his first match here in both 2011 and 2012. #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 8, 2014
It's a history that Murray wasn't afraid to acknowledge once he earned the win. Speaking with Sky Sports, he said, "It was tough. I've never started well at this tournament, have always struggled early on with the quick conditions."
The Scotsman explained that the dry, desert air makes the ball fly much faster through the air than it would in more temperate weather.
After a shift in strategy, Murray was able to turn the tables. He said after the match that he entered the second set looking to attack much more so than he did in the first, per BBC Sport.
"I tried to play more aggressively in the second set," he said. "Lukas hits the ball extremely hard and if you allow him to dictate the game then it becomes very hard."
Rosol was a completely different player on serve. He double-faulted three times and lost nine of his 13 points on second serves.
Getting away from his backhand also helped the Scot star get the advantage on Rosol and negate the Czech's power game.
"Once I started to use my forehand a little bit more, I was able to dictate the points and started to feel better from the middle of the second set," said Murray in the Sky Sports interview.
The third set was more domination from the No. 6 player in the world. Rosol seemed to wilt in the heat at Indian Wells, while Murray never relented. It's a testament to his stamina that he maintained such a relatively high level of performance for so long.
Murray moves on to play the winner of the second-round matchup between No. 32 Pablo Andujar and Jiri Vesely. He owns a 2-0 record against Andujar but has yet to face Vesely.
More importantly, Murray remains on a crash course for a potential date with No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Making a deep run at Indian Wells and knocking off guys like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer puts Murray in a great position heading into preparations for the French Open.
Roland Garros is the one Grand Slam court at which he's failed to make the final, so building a lot of momentum now may help to ease whatever tension he'll be feeling come May.