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 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.
On Monday night, he could focus on entertaining the crowd when he faced 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.
Djokovic defeated Murray 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the exhibition.
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 season's first Grand Slam title Down Under, 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 at this moment," Djokovic said. "It's just the beginning of the season, so it's still too early to predict, but there's a bigger group of players who can win Grand Slams."
Earlier Monday at the Garden, the Bryan brothers take on the McEnroe brothers in doubles. John McEnroe, 55, had some harsh comments about the state of doubles a few months ago, suggesting that top players are the guys who weren't athletic enough to make it in singles.
In his day, singles stars also competed in doubles, and he won nine Grand Slam doubles titles. While Bob and Mike Bryan concede they weren't thrilled with his remarks, they said they've spoken privately with McEnroe about them and respect his opinion.
"There's not going to be bad blood," Mike insisted.
The 35-year-old twins have won a record 15 major doubles titles.
Forty-seven-year-old Patrick McEnroe, who won the 1989 French Open doubles title with Jim Grabb, joked that Monday's matchup features "one of the greatest doubles teams of all time, one of the greatest doubles players of all time - and me."
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