Indian Wells Daily Preview: Alcaraz, Swiatek, Azarenka, Murray Play on Saturday - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Alcaraz, Swiatek, Azarenka, Murray Play on Saturday



Carlos Alcaraz warming up this week at Indian Wells (

Saturday’s second round singles action sees No.1 seeds Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz make their 2023 Indian Wells debuts.


Other matches feature two-time champion Victoria Azarenka taking on the always-dangerous Karolina Muchova, 2009 finalist Andy Murray facing 2017 semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta, defending champion Taylor Fritz playing recent breakout Ben Shelton, and Sofia Kenin against a fellow Major champ for the second round in a row, in Elena Rybakina.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Karolina Muchova vs. Victoria Azarenka (14) – 11:00am on Stadium 1

Azarenka has compiled a 10-5 record thus far in 2023, and most notably was a semifinalist at the Australian Open, where she beat two top 10 seeds (Keys, Pegula).  Her titles in the desert came in 2012 and 2016, and she was also the runner-up in 2021.

2021 was the year when Muchova reached her career-high ranking of No.19, but injuries have sidetracked her career for the last two seasons.  Karolina went just 11-12 in 2022, yet is off to a solid 8-3 start this year, and is coming off a quarterfinal run in Dubai.  She defeated Yulia Putintseva in three sets on Thursday.

Azarenka took their only previous meeting, in the fourth round of the 2020 US Open.  Muchova’s diverse style can frustrate opponents, as she provides a lot of different balls throughout a match.  However, Vika’s hard court prowess and recent success in Melbourne make her the favorite.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (Q) – Last on Stadium 1

After missing the Australian Open due to a leg injury, Alcaraz went 8-1 in February on clay, winning the title in Buenos Aires, and reaching the final in Rio de Janeiro.  While the same leg injury began bothering during that Rio final, his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero insisted this week that his charge is 100% heading into this fortnight.  Carlitos was a semifinalist here a year ago, where he lost an epic semi in extremely windy conditions to Rafael Nadal.  If Alcaraz wins the title this year, he’ll reclaim the No.1 ranking from an absent Novak Djokovic.

Kokkinakis became one of many heartbroken opponents of Andy Murray this year, losing a second round match in Melbourne that lasted an astounding five hours and 45 minutes.  Last month, Thanasi claimed a Challenger title on a hard court.  He’s already won three straight-set matches this week, having come through qualifying.

In their first career meeting, Alcaraz should be strongly favored.  While Kokkinakis is fully capable of defeating top players, Carlitos’ level across the past 12 months has been superb.  And the highly-popular 20-year-old Spaniard will have much of the packed house on Saturday evening cheering him on.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Claire Liu – Swiatek is 12-3 this season, with one title (Doha).  Liu is a 22-year-old American who was the girls’ champion at Wimbledon in 2017.

Andy Murray vs. Pablo Carreno Busta – Murray continues to thrive in marathon matches.  Following his over-three-hour victory on Thursday over Tomas Martin Etcheverry, he is now 7-0 this season in deciding sets.  Shockingly, this is his first career meeting with fellow veteran Carreno Busta, who is only 1-3 to start 2023.

Miomir Kecmanovic (26) vs. Stan Wawrinka (PR) – Kecmanovic broke into the top 30 last year thanks to 38 match wins, but is only 7-6 in 2023.  Wawrinka recently broke back into the top 100 for the first time in two years, as he’s still fighting his way back from a foot injury that caused him to miss over a year of action.

Taylor Fritz (4) vs. Ben Shelton – A year ago here, Fritz claimed the biggest title of his career in his home state.  20-year-old Shelton was a surprise quarterfinalist at January’s Australian Open.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Sofia Kenin (WC) – Kenin defeated another Slam champ, Sloane Stephens, in the first round.  Rybakina went 3-2 in February after reaching her second Major final in January.  When they played three years ago in Dubai, Rybakina prevailed 6-3 in the third.

Jannik Sinner (11) vs. Richard Gasquet – Sinner is a strong 12-3 on the year, after becoming the champion in Montpellier and the runner-up in Rotterdam.  Gasquet won a title at the beginning of the season in Auckland, but is just 3-4 since.

Peyton Stearns (WC) vs. Bianca Andreescu (32) – Stearns is a 21-year-old American who earned only her third WTA-level win on Thursday.  Andreescu’s big breakthrough occurred four years ago at this event, but she’s only 5-5 to start the year.

Ons Jabeur (4) vs. Magdelana Frech – This will be Jabeur’s first match since the Australian Open, as she recently had a minor procedure done on her injured knee.  Frech has now reached the second round of Indian Wells for the third consecutive year.  She’s only once achieved that feat at all other WTA 1000 events.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.


Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup

Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day



Image via Laver Cup twitter

After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.


Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”

American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.

“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”

After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:

“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”

The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:

“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”

Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”

Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.

Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.

T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2

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ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more



After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10


By Roberto Ferri

Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”

Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.

TOP 20

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A few comments:

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.

Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.

Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.

Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively  at the 2022 US  Open, drop 4 positions.

One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.


From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.


Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.

Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.

The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.

Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.


The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB ATP rank
6Van AsscheFrance597200469
12Llamas RuizSpain3702002133

Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.


Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.

We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.

The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.

Seyboth Wild76Brazil30

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open



Love him, or hate him. But respect him.


No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.

Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.

Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.


Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.

It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.

Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.


At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.

The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.

Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.

Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.


Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.

Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.

The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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