INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - British world number three Andy Murray had to dig himself out of an early hole before beating Russian Evgeny Donskoy 5-7 6-2 6-2 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.
U.S. Open champion Murray, showing signs of rust in his first tournament on the ATP circuit for six weeks, lost a wildly fluctuating opening set after clawing his back from 1-5 down before he seized control.
In blazing desert sunshine at Indian Wells, the 25-year-old Scotsman broke Donskoy’s serve twice in the second set and also in the third before sealing victory after two hours 17 minutes when his opponent sent a backhand service return long.
“I’ve struggled here the past couple of years, I haven’t won a match,” Murray, who had not played competitively since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, said courtside.
“I was a little bit nervous in the beginning and he started very, very well ... he came up with some unbelievable shots.
“I just tried to hang in there and was hitting the ball much better by the second set.”
Murray, a runner-up at Indian Wells in 2009 and a losing quarter-finalist in 2010, will next face Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun, who battled past Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 7-6 7-6 earlier in the day.
In other matches, American Mardy Fish made a triumphant return to the ATP Tour after being sidelined since last year’s U.S. Open because of a heart condition, battling past compatriot Bobby Reynolds 6-3 3-6 6-4.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic overcame Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6 6-2, Germany’s Bjoern Phau scraped past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-2 2-6 6-4 and Australian Marinko Matosevic brushed aside Argentina’s Juan Monaco 7-5 6-0.
Australian Open champion Djokovic, the top seed, launches his bid for a third title at Indian Wells when he takes on Italy’s Fabio Fognini later in the day.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Larry Fine