Andy Murray betting preview: Former world No. 1 up against it at Indian Wells

Indian Wells, the 'fifth Grand Slam', gets underway this week with Andy Murray playing in it for the first time in four years. What can we expect from the former world No. 1, though?

Andy Murray has looked down and out more often than he has looked likely to return to the top of tennis in recent years, and he takes another step on his comeback from injury at Indian Wells this week.

The former world No. 1 is still ranked outside the top 100 so required a wild card to enter the prestigious event.

Murray's record demands respect, though, and a weakened field in California could help him generate some serious momentum.

Is Andy Murray over his injury woes?

Many may look at Murray's current world ranking and consider him a spent force, but that is far from the case on recent evidence.

Murray is, of course, attempting to do something that no one else has ever done: return to elite singles tennis with a metal hip.

American doubles legend Bob Bryan achieved it, but he always had his twin brother Mike to share court-coverage duties with.

Context, therefore, is definitely required when it comes to assessing Murray right now.

There are, essentially, two main reasons why Murray's ranking is so low - a lack of regular tennis last season (and therefore rankings points) and some nightmarish draws in recent tournaments.

Andy Murray at US Open

That rotten luck meant he actually lost rankings points at the US Open despite taking world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets. He also ran into second seed Casper Ruud in just the second round at San Diego last week.

However, the signs for Murray are pretty good right now. His consistency of serve has returned and his movement looks great. He has also been able to string together some tournaments.

Andy Murray recent tournament performances

San Diego (Outdoor hard): R2

Metz (Indoor hard): QF

US Open (Outdoor hard): R1

Winston-Salem (Outdoor hard): R2

Cincinnati Masters (Outdoor hard): R2

Wimbledon (Grass): R3

Andy Murray Indian Wells record

Indian Wells is a tournament Murray has never actually won, although that's not to say he hasn't had some great moments there.

His best performance came in 2009 when he beat Roger Federer in the semi-final only to lose against Rafael Nadal in the final.

Two years before that he was a defeated semi-finalist at the hands of Novak Djokovic, and history repeated itself in 2015. He has also been a defeated quarter-finalist on two occasions.

Indian Wells

If you're looking for some recent form in this event, you are out of luck. Murray has not played it since 2017. That was back when he was world No. 1 but starting to struggle with the hip injury that eventually cost him three years of his career.

Andy Murray's Indian Wells draw

Murray has not been smiled upon by the draw and is arguably in the toughest section.

He begins his campaign with a match against Adrian Mannarino which he is expected to win. Recent US Open quarter-finalist Carlos Alcaraz awaits.

World No. 4 Alexander Zverev is a likely third-round opponent, while Gael Monfils, Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini are all potential opponents before the semi-finals.

Projected route to final

R1: Adrian Mannarino

R2: Carlos Alcaraz

R3: Gael Monfils

QF: Matteo Berrettini

SF: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Can Andy Murray win Indian Wells?

It's going to be very difficult, but stranger things have happened.

Although it would take a huge effort for Murray, and perhaps some surprise defeats for projected rivals, the fact Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are not in the tournament makes it relatively open.

It's also worth remembering that Murray is the only player in the men's draw that has held the ATP world No. 1 spot.

Make no mistake: it would be a big surprise if he achieved it, especially with Daniil Medvedev in such confident mood, but never write off Murray.

Who are the favourites for the Indian Wells title?

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev

It would take a brave punter to bet against Daniil Medvedev right now.

The Russian won his first major at the US Open last month and was dominant in doing so. Outdoor hardcourts suit him to a tee, and he is the 15/8 favourite for a reason.

Alexander Zverev at 5/1 looks better value from a betting point of view. After Medvedev broke his Grand Slam duck the German looks to be the next one coming up on the rails to win a major.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a tough player to predict, and he comes into it with little recent form to speak of after a disappointing US Open, but 7/1 offers a degree of value.

Casper Ruud won San Diego recently in similar conditions and is in the form of his life, so he looks an exceptional punt to win the tournament.

Berrettini is worth considering too, especially if he can get his huge serve and even bigger forehand going. The Italian is a rhythm player and he has not played since the US Open, but odds of around 22/1 will tempt plenty.

Odds correct at time of writing

ALSO READ: Betting preview: Can Emma Raducanu shine again as she returns at Indian Wells?