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Ricky’s picks for Day 3 of the Indian Wells Masters, including Alcaraz and Rublev

Friday marks the beginning of seeds taking the court at the BNP Paribas Open. There is a full helping of second-round action on Day 3, headlined by Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev. Both guys could have difficult opening matches on their hands; Alcaraz is facing Matteo Arnaldi and Rublev is kicking off his fortnight against none other than Andy Murray.

Here are my previews and picks for the matchups.

Matteo Arnaldi vs. (2) Carlos Alcaraz

Alcaraz has not played especially well so far in 2024 and he retired from his last match with an ankle injury, so he is a bit of a question mark heading into Sunshine Double. The two-time major winner lost to Alexander Zverev in the Aussie Open quarters, was upset by Nicolas Jarry in the QFs of Buenos Aires, and got injured in his opening match at the ATP 500 in Rio. Alcaraz did, however, look fine during his Netflix Slam victory over Rafael Nadal.

Up first for the second-ranked Spaniard is a second meeting with Arnaldi. Alcaraz domianted their only previous encounter in straight sets at the 2023 U.S. Open, but Arnaldi is already a much improved player just five months later. At 23 years old, the Italian is up to 40th in the rankings and he earned his seventh match win of the season on Wednesday (d. Luca Van Assche 7-6(6), 7-6(3)). This contest could be tougher than many expect for Alcaraz.

Pick: Alcaraz in 3

(5) Andrey Rublev vs. Andy Murray

Rublev and Murray will be facing each other for the third time. They have split their two previous meetings; Murray cruised 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 at Melbourne Park in 2017 before Rublev rolled 7-5, 6-2 at the 2022 ATP 500 in Rotterdam.

This is, of course, a much different matchup from the one Murray enjoyed in the Indian Wells first round on Wednesday–when he improved to 8-0 lifetime and 17-0 in total sets against David Goffin with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. The former world No. 1 will be on the defensive to a much greater extent with Rublev as his opposition. Unlike Goffin, the Rublev is one of the most powerful players on tour–and he is playing well, too, boasting a 14-4 record for the year. Even if the conditions are playing faster than last year, Murray cannot hit through this court and Rublev most definitely can. This will likely be one-way traffic from start to finish in favor of the fifth-ranked Russian.

Pick: Rublev in 2

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