Monday, March 27, 2023

Preview: Alcaraz Begins No. 1 Quest, Fritz Faces Shelton In Indian Wells

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The seeded stars within the prime half of the BNP Paribas Open will kick off their campaigns Saturday, when Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime shall be in motion.

Prime seed Alcaraz performs Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis and defending champion Fritz takes on #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton. Canadian Auger-Aliassime will begin the search for his first title of the yr towards Pedro Martinez.

Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner may also take to court docket in Indian Wells, the place Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka look to construct on their first-round wins. runs via among the key second-round matchups on present.

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[1] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)

Final yr, Alcaraz arrived on the first ATP Masters 1000 occasion of the season No. 19 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Spaniard reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells on debut, earlier than occurring to earn Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid and his maiden Grand Slam title on the US Open.

The 19-year-old returns this week as World No. 2, however will return to prime spot for the primary time since January if he wins the title.

“It is a actually good aim for me,” Alcaraz mentioned when discussing his No. 1 goals. “In fact taking part in a Masters 1000 is all the time robust and I actually need to have consequence right here. I like this event as properly. For me, successful the event and being No. 1 once more is a very good aim and I actually need to go for it.”

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Alcaraz is chasing his second title of the season this fortnight, having triumphed in Buenos Aires. He’ll open towards Kokkinakis in California in what would be the first ATP Head2Head assembly between the pair. The Australian Kokkinakis, at present No. 94 within the Pepperstone ATP Stay Rankings, defeated Brandon Holt to succeed in the second spherical at a Masters 1000 for the primary time since he superior to the fourth spherical in Miami final season.

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[4] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Ben Shelton (USA)

Two of the USA’ most fun abilities face off on dwelling soil Saturday, when fourth seed Fritz takes on the quickly ascending Shelton. The 25-year-old Fritz, who grew up in California, captured the largest title of his profession final yr when he lifted the trophy in Indian Wells, defeating Rafael Nadal within the ultimate regardless of struggling an ankle harm within the warm-up.

“Rating-wise it was huge getting 1000 factors and it gave me lots of confidence,” Fritz mentioned when reflecting on final yr’s title run. “I got here into the yr with lots of confidence, so I felt it reaffirmed that every little thing was shifting in the best course and it set me as much as attain a career-high rating.”

Since that triumph, World No. 5 Fritz has tasted extra success on Tour, successful the United Cup as a part of Workforce USA in January and tour-level titles in Eastbourne, Tokyo and Delray Seashore.

As early exams go, they don’t get a lot more durable than Shelton, although. The 20-year-old, at present No. 39 within the Pepperstone ATP Stay Rankings, soared to the quarter-finals on the Australian Open in January, earlier than he defeated Fabio Fognini in straight units on Thursday to earn victory on his Indian Wells debut.

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[8] (CAN) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Pedro Martinez (ESP)

Auger-Aliassime has not loved the very best begin to the season and he holds an 8-5 file coming into Indian Wells. The Canadian was one of many star performers on the ATP Tour final yr, although, successful 4 titles and he shall be wanting to return to his finest degree this week in California.

“It comes with simply making ready your self the best means,” Auger-Aliassime mentioned when discussing his goal to peak for Indian Wells. “Scheduling your tournaments and practices in a means that ‘OK, I don’t need to come to this event and win a couple of matches, I would like to have the ability to come and go all the best way and win the ultimate match.’ So I believe it comes by making ready for that and visualising for that, so everybody round you is on board.”

The eighth-seeded Canadian has misplaced within the second spherical in three of his 4 earlier appearances on the hard-court occasion, so shall be seeking to enhance on that file when he takes on Spaniard Pedro Martinez of their first ATP Head2Head assembly.

Additionally In Motion…

Younger weapons Rune and Sinner are each competing for the third time in Indian Wells and arrive in good kind. Seventh seed Rune, looking for his second ATP Masters 1000 title after successful in Paris final yr, loved a run to the semi-finals in Acapulco final week, whereas Sinner captured the crown in Montpellier in February.

The 19-year-old Dane Rune performs Mackenzie McDonald, with Eleventh-seeded Italian Sinner taking up Richard Gasquet.

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Murray and Wawrinka have made a mixed 27 appearances on the ATP Masters 1000 occasion, with former World No. 1 Murray reaching the ultimate in 2009 and former World No. 3 Wawrinka advancing to the championship match in 2017.

Each rolled again the years with three-set first-round wins in California as Murray defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Wawrinka beat Aleksandar Vukic. They are going to look to proceed their runs once they face Pablo Carreno Busta and Miomir Kecmanovic, respectively.

House hope Tommy Paul, No. 19 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, takes on Jan-Lennard Struff and ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz performs Alexei Popyrin.


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