After gift draw, No. 1 Andy Murray loses first match at Indian Wells

Andy Murray had every reason to feel optimistic headed into the BNP Paribas Open — the so-called “fifth major” that started this week in Indian Wells, Calif.

The world No. 1 was fresh off a championship in Dubai, and the draw had worked out amazingly in his favor. All the other members of tennis’ Big Four — No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic, No. 5 Rafael Nadal and No. 9 Roger Federer — ended up in the same quarter, tucked far away at the opposite end of the draw.

So the path seemed clear for Murray to carry on his success from Dubai and advance deep into the tournament in the California event, perhaps even finally conquer one of just two Masters 1000 events — the tier below the Grand Slams — he has never won.

Instead, he’s headed home after a 6-4, 7-6 (5) loss to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, ranked No. 129 in the world and a qualifier into the main draw.

It was a second-round match, but it was Murray’s first of the event, as seeded players receive a bye for the first round. Murray pointed to his serve — just 62% on first serves, with only 67% of those points won — as a problem.

The loss leaves No. 3 Stan Wawrinka as the highest seeded player in the top half of the draw. Djokovic, Nadal and Federer all play their first matches Sunday. Assuming they all keep winning, Nadal and Federer would meet in the fourth round, with the winner there facing Djokovic in the quarterfinal. Juan Martin del Potro also lurks in that super-stacked quarter.