New York: Andy Murray considers last week's tournament in Acapulco a victory of sorts even though he was upset in the semifinals.
He played four matches in four days, including three three-setters and some late-night finishes, without his surgically repaired back bothering him.
"I woke up the next morning feeling good for the first time since the surgery," Murray said on Monday.
He had a minor procedure in September to alleviate nagging pain and missed four months. He lost to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, then fell to Grigor Dimitrov on Friday in Mexico.
Late Monday, he can focus on entertaining the crowd when he faces friend and rival Novak Djokovic in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden. The two 26-year-olds have been playing each other since they were 11, with some epic Grand Slam matches in recent years.
They met in three major finals in 10 months. Murray became the first British man in 76 years to win a Grand Slam title when he outlasted Djokovic in five sets in the 2012 U.S. Open. Djokovic beat Murray to win the 2013 Australian Open. Then Murray ended another drought for his country, the first British men's champion at Wimbledon since 1936, defeating Djokovic there last year.
There was also a five-set marathon between the two, won by Djokovic, in the 2012 Aussie semifinals.
While 2013 was dominated by Murray, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, this year is off to an intriguing start. Stanislas Wawrinka won the Australian Open, the first man outside the so-called Big Four to capture a major championship since 2009. And the fourth member of that group, Roger Federer, is showing signs of a resurgence, beating Djokovic in Dubai on Friday.
"It's a very interesting time for men's tennis," Djokovic said. "It's just the beginning of the season, but there's a bigger group of players who can win Grand Slams."