Andy Murray practices on stadium court 4 on Sunday October 3, 2021 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/BNPPO)
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden will be abuzz on Sunday, with a full slate of ATP action on the schedule. We look at three matches to keep an eye on:
It’s Youth vs. Experience in Stadium 2 on Sunday, as 18-year-old sensation Carlos Alcaraz of Spain goes head-to-head with 34-year-old former No. 1 Andy Murray of Scotland, who after a pair of hip surgeries is again playing top-flight tennis. Alcaraz, tutored by another former No. 1, countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero, is making his tournament debut at a career-high No. 38, the youngest player in the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Last month, he introduced himself to the tennis world at large at the US Open, stunning World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to his first major quarterfinal. As Tsitsipas discovered, the Spaniard has plenty of firepower and can cover the court with the best of ‘em. He should provide a stiff test for the three-time Slam titlist and 2009 BNP Paribas Open runner Murray, who is returning to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the first time since 2017.
All Alexander Zverev has done since striking gold at the Tokyo Games is go 17-1, with titles in Cincinnati and at the one-sided Laver Cup. The German is playing with newfound confidence and is poised to surpass his best showing at the BNP Paribas Open, a Round of 16 finish in 2016. But the 6-foot-6 Zverev will be in uncharted waters against 20-year-old Californian Jenson Brooksby, who dazzled in reaching the Round of 16 at the US Open, where he stole a set from World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in front of a frenzied Ashe Stadium crowd. The Sacramento native, who has made the biggest jump in the Top 100 from 2020, climbing 228 spots from No. 307 to a career-high No. 79, has drawn high praise for his fearless play. “He’s a young, talented player that is very crafty,” said Djokovic. “He’s got the all-around game. He absorbs pace very well, especially from the backhand side. He’s got plenty of time. I think we’re going to see a lot of him in the future.”
Stadium 3 will be rocking on Sunday afternoon for this home-tourney clash between Californians Brandon Nakashima and Taylor Fritz. The 31st seed Fritz, born just down the road in Rancho Santa Fe, reached the Round of 16 here in 2018, defeating Reilly Opelka, Andrey Rublev and Fernando Verdsaco. The former UVA star Nakashima, raised in San Diego, is currently ranked a career-high No. 83. He reached consecutive finals this summer in Los Cabos and Atlanta, but came up short in his only career head-to-head with Fritz at Wimbledon, falling 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the opening round. Nakashima possesses a rare confidence, but knows he needs to focus on the short term if he’s going to achieve his world-stage goals. “Right now, it’s just keep improving as much as possible, developing my game,” he said. “Hopefully, I would like to become No. 1 in the world one day, win all the Slams. I think it’s a long journey ahead of me. At this point, I think developing my game is important right now. I think the results will come if I put the hard work on the practice court.”