Andy Murray is a lucky dude at Indian Wells, and he knows it. While all his foes try to slit each others’ throats in the bottom quarter of the draw—home to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, and Nick Kyrgios—the top seed plans to enjoy the gladiator games from his relaxing perch.
“It’s an amazing draw. I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s one of the toughest sections of a draw of all time,” Murray said last night about Djokovic’s quarter. It’s plainly amazing for him, too: Murray might not face a serious test until David Goffin or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinal.
Including Murray’s first-round bye, that’s four rounds of relative peace to begin one of the season’s most important tournaments. He’s probably not losing sleep over potential early matches against other seeds like Feliciano López (he dominates their 10-0 history), Roberto Bautista Agut (3-0), or Pablo Carreño Busta (never played). Young American prospects like the idiosyncratic Frances Tiafoe and seven-foot titan Reilly Opelka will be fun to root for, but they won’t be difficult prey for Murray. The Scot can go to bed dreaming about his combined 60-9(!) record against the remainder of his quarter.
“In terms of the number of Grand Slam titles you have in that section and some of the younger up-and-coming players that are likely to be at the top of the game for a long time, it’s pretty exciting for tennis fans. There will be some exciting matches early on in the tournament for sure. There’s even guys like Verdasco in there, who are dangerous players. It’s definitely tough on the guys in that section. It’s obviously a section that ideally you’d want to be avoiding if you can.”
Unfortunately for all the doomed players down there, no one can just, uh, avoid their own section of the draw.