Alexander Bublik drop shots his way to straight-sets victory over Andy Murray at Indian Wells
Alexander Bublik secured his first career win over Andy Murray to advance to the last 32 of the BNP Paribas Open.
Murray had wins at Wimbledon and Rotterdam on his record against Bublik, but on the outdoor hard courts at Indian Wells it was the Kazakh – as well as his use of the drop shot and booming serve – who prevailed 7-6(9) 6-3.
Murray made a strong start with an imposing opening hold, and put Bublik under pressure in the second game but some big serves – which were a staple through the match – secured a hold from 0-40 down.
The Brit had a lengthy conversation with umpire Carlos Bernardes at 3-2 in the first set, but it did not break his focus as he continued to put Bublik under pressure – and the Kazakh continued to find big serves.
Bublik kept fending off the threat of Murray thanks to his big serve and an ace took the opening set into a tiebreak.
It was a see-saw affair, with both players throwing in double faults and passages of brilliance.
A seventh ace from Bublik gave him a set point, but Murray fended it off – somehow getting his racket on a huge serve to put the ball at the feet of Bublik and winning the point.
Murray let out frustrating cries of “Andy, Andy” when sending a backhand wide in the 19th point. One point later, Bublik got the job done when absorbing some Murray ground strokes before advancing to the net and putting a winner away.
Bublik powered down two aces to fend off break points in the opening game of the second set, and then produced a ridiculous drop shot to hold serve.
The drop shot is a big weapon in Bublik’s armoury and a clever execution in the fourth game worked a break point, and he secured the opening when Murray dumped a backhand into the net – after which his racket paid a heavy price.
Bublik attempted to suck the life out of Murray’s legs with drop shot after drop shot. The Scot somehow fended off break points in the sixth game, with Murray winning a nine-and-a-half-minute game to keep in the hunt.
The point of the match came at 30-30 in the seventh game of the second set, as the pair traded blows – and drop shots – at the net before Bublik stretched to send a forehand down the line for a winner, and he held serve one point later.
Murray forced Bublik to serve out, but he did not blink and some big serves, and fittingly a drop shot, saw him over the line.