Andy Murray says he's in the 'bad books' after losing ring
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Andy Murray has put the pressure on “overwhelming favourite” Alexander Zverev as he prepares to face the German for a place in the last 16 of the BNP Paribas Open. Murray, 32, is playing at Indian Wells for the first time since 2017, and has been impressive in recording wins over Adrian Mannarino and Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.
World No 4 Zverev was made to work hard in his three-set win over American youngster Jenson Brooksby, and has lost his two previous encounters with Murray – at the 2016 Australian Open and at last year’s Western and Southern Open.
However, whilst Murray admitted he would “gain confidence from that,” he implied he would have to be at his very best to trouble the German.
“He’ll certainly go in as the overwhelming favourite. But if I play a high-level match, I’ll be right in there,” he told reporters.
Zverev, 24, has wins over Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic, but along with a win over Murray, a Grand Slam title has thus far eluded him.
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Regardless of the outcome tonight however, Zverez is in awe of the way the Scotsman has battled to regain form and fitness following lengthy lay-offs from hip surgeries.
“I think he’s the only one of the ‘big four’ I haven’t beaten yet, so I hope I can change that,” he said.
“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.”
Zverez was a US Open finalist in 2020 and also reached the semi-final stage last month at Flushing Meadows, but was on the wrong side of a five set thriller with world no 1 Djokovic.
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And despite the apparent mutual respect, there could be added spice to his clash with Murray – which is scheduled to start 9.30pm UK time on Tuesday night.
It is the first time they will come face-to-face since Murray said he welcomed an investigation by the ATP into domestic violence allegations made against his next opponent.
Last week, the governing body of men’s tennis said it would look into claims Zverev was violent towards a former girlfriend, Olya Sharypova, during the Shanghai Masters in October 2019.
Zverev has publicly denied the allegations, and previously claimed he welcomed any investigation that gave him the chance to “clear his name.”
“I’ve been asking them myself for months now. Because it’s very hard for me to clear my name and only with something like this can I completely do it,” he said.
But the allegations certainly haven’t affected him on court, having produced a brilliant season to date.
His stand-out moments of the 2021 season, include winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics and reaching two Grand Slam semi-finals.
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