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Youth movement in the desert as Michelsen, Mensik, Shang, and Fils all advance

The Indian Wells Masters has already been a tale of two generations.

So far in week one of 2024’s first Masters 1000 tournament the biggest story has been Rafael Nadal’s withdrawl. The 37-year-old practiced several times in what was expected to be his final appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, but he pulled out before his first-round match that had been scheduled for Thursday night (Milos Raonic ended up beating lucky loser Sumit Nagal).

Andy Murray — unless his plans to retire this summer change — is also making his final trip to IW. Murray defeated David Goffin 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday, but the 36-year-old Scot may be on his way out with Andrey Rublev next up for him on Friday. Finally, Stan Wawrinka may have said goodbye to this event for the last time on Thursday. The 38-year-old Swiss fell to Tomas Machac in three sets.

And then there is the other extreme.

Four teenagers — yes, four — punched their tickets to the second round on Thursday. Jakub Mensik defeated qualifier Seongchan Hong 6-3, 6-4, Alex Michelsen made quick 6-2, 6-3 work of Jaume Munar, Arthur Fils knocked off Nuno Borges 7-6(5), 6-2, and Juncheng Shang ousted Los Cabos champion Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-3.

Mensik currently leads the race to the NextGen ATP Finals. The 18-year-old Czech recently was runner-up in Doha, where he upset Murray and Gael Monfils. Mensik also reached round two at Melbourne Park as a qualifier and tested Hubert Hurkacz in a five-setter.

At 19, Michelsen became the youngest American man to win a match at a Masters 1000 since Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz both did the same at the Miami Masters in 2017.

Next up for Michelsen is an all-American matchup with Tommy Paul on Saturday. Mensik will be back on the court on Friday for a showdown against fellow rising star Ben Shelton.

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