Andy Murray showed he is not ready to surrender to his sport’s next generation
after battling past Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells to set up a meeting with Alexander Zverev; the three-time Grand Slam champion even resorted to using the underarm serve in exceptionally slow conditions
Last Updated: 11/10/21 1:24am
Andy Murray came through a physically bruising encounter against highly-rated Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz to reach the last 32 at the BNP Paribas Masters in Indian Wells on Sunday.
Murray has tipped the precocious 18-year-old as a future world No 1 but it was the veteran Scot who outlasted his opponent 5-7 6-3 6-2 in over three hours in the desert heat.
“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.”
Alcaraz, who burst on to the scene by reaching the quarter-finals of this year’s US Open, battled back from the verge of a double-break down.
There looked like being a further twist in the topsy-turvy opener when a blunder by Alcaraz handed Murray a set point at 5-4, but the Spaniard recovered again with a big serve then broke Murray a second time before serving out.
Murray resorted to increasingly desperate measures to contain his opponent’s blistering ground-strokes at the start of the second, saving a break point before sealing the third game of the set with an audacious underarm ace.
The World No 121 – who required a wild card for a main draw berth – saved two break points in surviving an 11-minute service game and capitalised immediately, pressuring the Spaniard who netted with an uncharacteristically feeble backhand to fall 4-2 behind.
In a fiercely competitive affair, it was no surprise that Murray should be made to work to serve out the set, but he duly did so in the end to send their clash into a decider.
Fears it may be the 34-year-old Scot who would fade first proved unfounded, as Murray broke again at the start of the third, then came out on top of another 10-minute service game to consolidate his advantage.
A double break effectively sealed a hugely significant win for Murray after three hours and four minutes.
Speaking to Mark Petchey for Amazon Prime Video, Murray said the win was one of his best since hip resurfacing surgery two years ago.
“It was a brutal match, really tough conditions,” he said. “I feel that I should have won that first set. I had a lot of chances but didn’t take them. It would have been easy to let the match slip away but I kept fighting and finished it well.
“I wanted to try and match his energy throughout the match. He’s obviously a young guy who brings a lot of energy. In a way I was trying to mirror him as best as I could. It’s tough to stay focused and not to get frustrated in these conditions. I did a better job than I have done in a lot of my matches recently of focussing on the next point and not think about what just happened.
“My game has not been great. I’ve not been happy with how I’ve been playing so I said to myself this week, ‘regardless of how I play, I’ve never liked the conditions here so just accept that you’re probably not going to play great, but the best you can do is fight for every single point, give your best on every single point and see what happens’.
“I played some good stuff today, not always, but a really good attitude and I’ve won two matches on the back of that.”
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