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Relishing match practice, Murray back on court against Alcaraz on Sunday in Indian Wells

Andy Murray will get another valuable — and likely difficult — match under his belt when he meets Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday in Indian Wells. That showdown headlines an intriguing schedule of second-round action.

Andy Murray at the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie King National Tennis Center Andy Murray at the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie King National Tennis Center Credit: AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

Andy Murray has extra motivation to win matches at the moment. No, he doesn’t have Grand Slam title hopes in the immediate future and he isn’t considered a contender at the BNP Paribas Open. But that hardly matters. Murray just wants to get more and more matches under his belt to set himself up nicely for 2022. And the way to get more matches, of course, is winning.

That is exactly what the 34-year-old did at the Indian Wells Masters on Friday, when he defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-2.

“Physically my body responds well to playing matches,” Murray explained afterward. “That’s one of the hardest things about being out, is that you just can’t replicate the intensity of match play. So you can do all of the work in the gym, do as much practicing as you want, but getting on the match court is different. Your body responds differently to that. Certainly mine does. I’ve heard many athletes talking about it across a number of sports, talking about match fitness. Yeah, I don’t know whether it’s due to adrenaline or that will to win, you push your body just that little bit harder — five percent,10 percent extra. Unless you’re out there competing regularly, your body doesn’t get used to that.

“I want to keep playing [while] my body feels good. I don’t want to overplay, obviously. I have played quite a few tournaments recently, but I’ve not had any really deep runs. I’ve had enough sort of rest between the events. Yeah, [while] my body feels good, I want to try to play as much as I can between now and the end of the year to set myself up as best as I can for next season.”

Teenage sensation Alcaraz next for Murray

For now, however, the three-time Grand Slam champion has Sunday to worry about. Up next for him in Indian Wells is Carlos Alcaraz, who earned a first-round bye as the No 30 seed. The 18-year-old Spaniard has already climbed to 38th in the rankings, largely thanks to recent run to the US Open quarter-finals — upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the process.

Carlos Alcaraz

Zverev vs. Brooksby also on the Sunday schedule

Sunday’s second-round slate also includes a matchup featuring No 3 seed Alexander Zverev and 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby. A first-round winner over qualifier Cem Ilkel, Brooksby is coming off a fourth-round showing at Flushing Meadows — where he took a set off Novak Djokovic.

Other Indian Wells men’s matches to watch on Sunday are No 31 Taylor Fritz vs Brandon Nakashima and No 24 Karen Khachanov vs Emil Ruusuvuori.

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