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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, March 8, 2024

Reigning Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz launches his title defense on a search mission. 

The Wimbledon winner is trying to find his form, regain his health after a sprained ankle forced him out of Rio last month and land his first final since Cincinnati last August.

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Hall of Famer Andy Roddick sees two clear favorites to win Indian Wells—neither is named Carlos Alcaraz.

Writing in his Betway blog, Roddick says Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner and five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic are the clear favorites for the BNP Paribas Open championship.

While the slower surface suits Alcaraz's all-court attack, the 20-year-old Spanish superstar is still seeking his best level, writes Roddick.

"It’s a very rough surface at Indian Wells. The court feels like rubbing your hand on a piece of sandpaper." Roddick writes in his Betway blog. "That cuts the ball a little bit more but the air is thin and there’s no humidity, so the ball still travels through the air.

"It’s a mix of a couple of factors that seem to be working against each other.

"Alcaraz is the defending champion and the surface probably benefits his game the best, but I feel like he is searching for his best level right now. He hasn’t made a final since Cincinnati in August last year and hasn’t won a tournament since Wimbledon, and rolling his ankle in Rio last month won’t have helped momentum going in."

Former world No. 1 Roddick sees Alcaraz, who opens today vs. Italian Matteo Arnaldi, chasing Djokovic and Sinner for the Indian Wells title. 

"I have zero worries about Carlos long-term," Roddick writes for Betway. "But the two favorites in Jannik Sinner – who backed up his win in Australia at the Rotterdam Open – and Novak Djokovic – who is probably the best ever on this type of surface – will have more confidence heading in."


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Alcaraz admits defending will be difficult, but says he's determined to capture successive Indian Wells championships.

"I’m coming here to defend the title. It’s difficult, I know," Alcaraz told the media in Indian Wells. "I’m here with the best tennis players in the world, some are playing great tennis this year.

"I know it’s gonna be really difficult, but I’m here to do it. I’m here to try and defend the title. I’ve been feeling well on the practice court. Probably some people are thinking about my ankle, let’s see if I’m going to stay 100 percent or not, but I’m feeling better as well. Let’s see how the tournament’s going to go. I’m here to defend and I’m not thinking about anything else but that."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis