Former World No. 1 Andy Murray has claimed a battle of the generations, rebounding to see off Carlos Alcaraz at the BNP Paribas Open in three sets on Sunday.
In his 13th Indian Wells appearance, the Scot advanced to the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time since he won the Paris Rolex Masters in 2016 with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over the #NextGenATP Spaniard. Murray finished with 18 winners to his opponent’s 36, but his 29 unforced errors were 13 fewer.
“He’s obviously got so much potential, so much firepower and these conditions it’s not easy to finish points off quickly, but he’s able to because he has so much pace from the back of the court so I had to fight extremely hard, coming back from a set down,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “I felt like in the second set he played maybe better. First set I felt like I had more of the opportunities but didn’t get it so yeah, happy with the way I fought. He’s a top-drawer young player.”
In only his second ATP Masters 1000 event of the season, Murray made the sharper start as he broke the Spaniard’s opening service game and carried the advantage to 4-2 before his younger opponent pegged back level. Murray held a set point on his opponent’s serve at 5-4 but could not convert as an emboldened Alcaraz took it up a gear to break.
The Spaniard then served out the opening set at the 66-minute mark on the back of 18 winners to Murray’s seven – 13 of those off the forehand wing. Such was the strength of his opponent’s baseline game, Murray opted for an underarm serve to catch Alcaraz off-guard and hold for 2-1 in the second 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. Wasn’t expecting obviously to get an ace out of it.”
As was the case in the first set, the Scot was the first to break in the second set. The World No. 121 – who required a wild card for a main draw berth – built on a 4-2 advantage as he levelled at a set apiece after two hours and five minutes.
Where Alcaraz had dominated on winners in the opening set, he had now committed 14 unforced errors in the second set to Murray’s eight. There was an early letdown from the 30th seed when he immediately dropped serve to start the third set and when four break points when begging in the ensuing game, Murray snatched the ascendancy with the consolidation.
A double break gave Murray an added buffer and he improved his record in the desert to 27-12 when he served out the victory after three hours and four minutes. His reward is a third-round showdown against third seed Alexander Zverev.
Former quarter-finalist Karen Khachanov, the 24th seed from Russia, recovered from 0-3 down in the second set en route to beating Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 37 minutes. With his 30th match win of the season, Khachanov will now challenge No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.