Murray feeling back on top
Andy Murray is excited about how he feels physically as he prepares for his fifth tournament since back surgery.
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The Scot has played more in the first two months of the season than in previous years to try to get back to the form that brought him the Wimbledon title last summer.
Quarter-finals at the Australian Open and in Rotterdam were followed last week by a run to the semi-finals in Acapulco, where he lost a close contest against fast-rising Grigor Dimitrov.
Next up is the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he will meet Lukas Rosol in the second round at the weekend having been given a first-round bye.
Murray said: "I feel good. I felt the best I had this year in Acapulco. I played quite a few long matches there, finished late and came back the next day feeling good.
"I lasted the matches fairly well in tough conditions and I wasn't waking up stiff and sore like I had been after the other events I'd played.
"My back feels the best it has since the surgery so that's exciting. I'm not that far away from where I want to get to."
Murray went under the knife in September having battled the problem for more than 18 months and spent the rest of last year recovering and building his fitness back up.
He was understandably rusty in Australia but came through four matches before losing to a resurgent Roger Federer in the last eight.
"It takes time," said Murray. "The last couple of weeks I've really started to feel normal. I'm not saying it's ahead of schedule but I'd say it's pretty much on schedule.
"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 and you're just not quite there no matter how much training and physical work, all those things that you do.
"I'm looking forward to hopefully playing some good tennis over the next month."
Murray's defensive capabilities are one of his biggest strengths and he was encouraged by the improvement in that area of his game in Mexico.
"I'm starting to move well again and feel comfortable in my movement," he said.
"When people describe someone as a great mover, there's a lot of guys that move extremely well but once you get there you need to be able to do something with the ball.
"I felt like in Acapulco I was starting to get to balls and actually was doing stuff with them, getting myself out of difficult situations in points.
"Those sort of intangibles are coming back, because before I was making shots that didn't look they were bad errors but often when I was playing at my best I'd be getting those balls back and making it harder for my opponent."
Indian Wells is the first Masters series tournament of the season and sees all the big names come together for the first time since Australia.
The draw was not kind to Murray, with Czech Rosol, who famously beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012, a tricky first opponent.
Being only the fifth seed counted against him when he was placed in the same quarter as world number one Nadal, with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and Federer also in his half.
Indian Wells has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for Murray in recent years, with two first-round losses and two quarter-finals in the last four years.
While the Scot has been consistently excellent in the grand slams over the past few years, that has not been the case in the regular tour events, and he has made improving that his priority for the season.
He said: "Obviously coming back from the surgery was tough, but trying to maintain the level of consistency throughout the year which I'd had in the slams in the last few years but not necessarily in the other tournaments, that's what I'm trying to achieve this year."
Murray will be in match action for the first time on Friday when he teams up with former Wimbledon champion Jonny Marray against Gael Monfils and Juan Monaco in the first round of the doubles.