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Ricky’s picks for Day 4 in Indian Wells, including Alcaraz and Murray

Seeded players continue to make their 2023 Indian Wells debuts as second-round competition wraps up on Saturday. Carlos Alcaraz is kicking off his campaign against Thanasi Kokkinakis, while Pablo Carreno Busta faces Andy Murray.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (Q) Thanasi Kokkinakis

Alcaraz will be back in action after skipping Acapulco when he takes the court at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday. An ongoing leg injury has been a problem for the 19-year-old Spaniard, who was forced to miss the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals and the 2023 Australian Open before it again hampered him in the Rio de Janeiro final and then forced him out of Acapulco. Alcaraz and least managed to win the Buenos Aires title in between physical issues and he also played well in Rio before losing to Cameron Norrie in a rematch of the Buenos Aires final.

Up first for the world No. 2 is Kokkinakis, who has already won three matches at the Indian Wells Masters. After qualifying for the main draw, the 94th-ranked Aussie eased pass a less-than-100-percent Brandon Holt 6-4, 6-1 on Thursday. Even if Kokkinakis plays well, this match is obviously on Alcaraz’s racket. The top seed sounds like he is ready to go; if he is healthy, he should roll.

Pick: Alcaraz in 2

Andy Murray vs. (15) Pablo Carreno Busta

Carreno Busta and Murray will also be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on Saturday, which is surprising given how long both veterans have been tour. Murray just barely made it happen, too, as the 35-year-old Scot needed three hours and 12 minutes to outlast Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday. That was nothing new for Murray, who is now 7-0 in deciding sets this season while playing marathon after marathon (mainly at the Australian Open and then in Doha).

Although another three-hour battle may not be ideal preparation, Murray showed in Doha that he has little trouble recovering from such matches–as long as Daniil Medvedev isn’t on the other side of the net in the next round. And in Doha he didn’t have days off in between matches; a full day of rest on Friday will serve him well. Carreno Busta has not yet adjusted to the Indian Wells conditions since he had a first-round bye, and the 17th-ranked Spaniard is just 1-3 so far in 2023. This is a great opportunity for Murray, but he will probably find a way to once again drop a set.

Pick: Murray in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.