The Scot, who had never hit an underarm serve in a tour-level match, caught off guard #NextGenATP star Carlos Alcaraz at 1-1 in the second set. The play resulted in an ace in his 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
“If you look where he was standing at the beginning of the match to return the first serve in comparison… he changed that at the end of the first set. He started returning from further back, so it was even harder to get free points on the serve,” Murray said. “I thought if he’s going to stand that far back and I’m getting no love from the court and the conditions, why not try it and see if I can bring him forward a little bit again?”
The Spanish teen was returning from far behind the baseline inside Stadium 2. His positioning served as an invitation for Murray to try something different. Alcaraz barely budged, knowing he was beaten by the play.
“Wasn’t expecting obviously to get an ace out of it. He was so far back, he didn’t obviously react. Wasn’t expecting it. I was thinking about using it at times in the third set, but obviously up in the score, was doing a little bit better, didn’t feel like I needed to,” Murray said. “Certainly when guys are standing there to return serve now, it’s a smart play.”
The underarm serve got plenty of attention on social media, but that was far from the only impressive moment of the match. Murray saved eight of the 10 break points he faced to battle past his opponent after three hours and four minutes.
“Obviously I’m happy. It was kind of like at the US Open, my body did well today… It was hard conditions. It was very hot. Because of the nature of the court here, you’re going to play some long rallies, especially against a player like him,” Murray said. “At times I played some really good tennis. It wasn’t my best match. I can certainly still do things better. I thought I competed well today, which was probably the most pleasing part for me.”
Murray Grinds Down Alcaraz At Indian Wells
Murray, who is into the third round in Indian Wells for the ninth time, will next face an in-form foe in Tokyo Olympics singles gold medallist Alexander Zverev, who clawed past #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby in three sets on Sunday.
The Scot leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0, with their most recent clash coming at last year’s Western & Southern Open in New York. Murray won that match 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
“Obviously Zverev is a top player. He’s had a good summer post-Wimbledon with the Olympics, then a great run in New York. Played a tough match with Novak there,” Murray said. “[It is] not going to be easy for me. I played some good matches against him in the past. Will need to play really well.”
Did You Know?
When Murray plays Zverev, he will try to advance past the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time since winning the Rolex Paris Masters in 2016.