Even though he would still be one of the favourites with Novak Djokovic competing, Carlos Alcaraz will be looking at Indian Wells as an even greater opportunity to add yet another big title to his record due to the absence of the World No.1. He will begin his chase against Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is back in the top 100 after a short absence.
Kokkinakis has had a decent start to 2023, following a disastrous run of form last year. An Adelaide semi final and a Challenger Tour title were the highlights before he qualified here with two straight sets wins. He added a third against Brandon Holt, giving up no break point opportunities against the American in the 6-4 6-1 win.
Alcaraz can become World No.1 with the title again but it will be a tough ask for the Spaniard even with the slower courts here. He had a successful return after injury, winning Buenos Aires and making the Rio final. A minor injury that forced his Acapulco withdrawal is over though with the Spaniard ready to compete here. “I’m [feeling] really good right now,” he said. “Today was the first practice that I practised with some players, [played] some points. I feel great. I took some days off and it was really good for me. Right now I’m ready.”
Early concerns that Alcaraz’s game would not translate to hard courts were unfounded and he should be fairly confident of easing through this one as likely already one of the tour’s better slow hard court players. Kokkinakis is just not going to be able to handle the longer rallies and cannot guarantee enough free points on serve to make this one close.
Prediction – Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets
Check out other Indian Wells matchups and stats.