Betting preview: Conditions could help Andy Murray upset Alexander Zverev at Indian Wells

Andy Murray faces a big test against world No. 3 Alexander Zverev at Indian Wells, but do not count the British ace out by any means.

Andy Murray attempts to continue his fine Indian Wells on Tuesday night, although he will have to overcome world No. 4 Alexander Zverev to do it.

Murray will be attempting to do something he has not achieved all season in winning three successive matches, and there is definitely a sense of growing confidence in the Scotsman's demeanour.

Zverev, though, is the second favourite to win the title and will certainly provide significant opposition, but it's a challenge Murray will relish.

When, where, and how to watch

Where: Indian Wells (Outdoor hardcourt)

When: Tuesday, October 12, 9.30pm BST (approx)

How to watch: Amazon Prime TV

Murray finding his mojo

Even if you have little more than a passing interest in sport, you will be aware of Andy Murray's troubles in the last four years.

After succumbing to a long-standing hip problem while ranked world No. 1 in 2017, he has struggled to get the regular tennis he needs to climb the rankings, mainly due to niggling injuries, illness, and particularly unkind draws.

However, since Wimbledon Murray has been able to string together some tournaments and, although his results haven't been brilliant, his tennis has certainly been improving.

He took world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas to a fifth set at the US Open and he beat brilliant Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz - who defeated Tsitsipas in New York - in the second round at Indian Wells to earn this shot at Zverev.

Murray described that Alcaraz result as probably his best since his victory over Zverev at the 2020 Cincinnati Masters, so it's clear that some real progress is being made.

Andy Murray profile

Age: 34

World ranking: 121 (highest: 1)

Turned Pro: 2005

Career titles: 46

Career W/L: 685/209

Plays: Right-handed

Backhand: Two-handed

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

Zverev realising his potential

Zverev has been earmarked for greatness pretty much since the moment he set foot on the ATP Tour.

The German was a top-four player at the age of 20 and has not dropped below seven in the world rankings in the four years since.

Alexander Zverev forehand follow-through

There are some who will say he has underachieved during that time for his talent, and perhaps just one Grand Slam final appearance is suggestive of that.

That said, in the last year Zverev has started to look much more dominant and authoritative on court and has developed a consistency with his ground strokes that just was not there before.

Despite the lack of majors, Zverev's record is very impressive and he rightly starts among the genuine favourites for any tournament he enters.

Alexander Zverev profile

Age: 24

World ranking: 4 (highest: 3)

Turned Pro: 2013

Career titles: 17

Career W/L: 295/137

Plays: Right-handed

Backhand: Two-handed

Recent tournament performances

US Open (Outdoor hard): SF

Cincinnati Masters (Outdoor hard): Winner

Tokyo Olympics (Outdoor hard): Winner

Wimbledon (Grass): R4

Halle (Grass): R3

French Open (Clay): SF

Conditions a leveller?

You have to say that Alexander Zverev's recent record on an outdoor hardcourt is quite exceptional. He has won two of the last three tournaments he has played on the surface and it took Novak Djokovic to beat him in the other.

It might seem strange, then, to suggest that the outdoor hardcourt at Indian Wells might be a leveller and help Murray, but that is certainly the situation.

"The courts are painfully slow here," Murray said after beating Alcaraz. "I served three aces the whole match and one of them was the underarm serve."

html) */?>

That is significant here. Murray would usually expect to serve three or four aces per set and he is not a power player by any means.

Zverev, on the other hand, is. The German is arguably the best server on the ATP Tour. In 2021, Zverev has served an average of 9.5 aces per match. That is compared to 6.9 for Murray.

The real difference is likely greater than that, though, as Murray did not have a clay season where aces are harder to come-by. Nevertheless, it still illustrates Zverev's greater reliance on his serve.

It should be noted that the conditions did appear to affect Zverev too much in his first match. He served 12 in three sets against Jenson Brooksby, but the American is nowhere near the elite-level returner that Murray is.

The conditions, then, should strip Zverev of one of his greatest weapons. And should that lead to frustration getting the better of him, it could expose his greatest weakness - the second serve.

Expect, then, the conditions to level this contest up to a large degree. It probably isn't enough to make Murray the favourite, but it's more than sufficient to give him a very good chance of progressing.

Zverev's record at Indian Wells highlights how uncomfortable he is there too. He has never been further than the fourth round and that came all the way back in 2016.

Andy Murray vs Alexander Zverev head-to-head

Matches: 2

Murray wins: 2

Zverev wins: 0

Recent meetings

2020 Cincinnati Masters - Murray 6-3, 3-5, 7-5 (Outdoor hard)

2016 Australian Open - Murray 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 (Outdoor hard)

What they've said

Andy Murray: "Zverev is a top player. He's had a good summer post-Wimbledon with the Olympics, then a great run in New York.

"It's not going to be easy for me. I played some good matches against him in the past. I will need to play really well.

"He'll certainly go in as the overwhelming favourite. But if I play a high-level match, I'll be right in there."

Alexander Zverev: "I think he's the only one of the Big Four I haven't beaten yet. So I hope I can change that.

"I think it's incredible how well he's moving and incredible how well he's playing.

"I think he's very motivated so I hope I can show my best tennis."