No doubt about it, the hot topic at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is THAT section of the men’s singles draw. The one that features Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro, Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev to name but a few.
At the top of the draw, World No. 1 Andy Murray is able to rub his hands together with glee, just like any other tennis fan.
Watch Murray Pre-Tournament Interview
"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," said the Scot, speaking during his pre-tournament media at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday.
“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 [Fernando] 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.”
One possibility the draw throws up is a Federer-Nadal fourth-round clash. The two met for the 35th time a few weeks ago when they contested the Australian Open final, with Federer prevailing in five sets to clinch his 18th Grand Slam championship.
“People want to watch Rafa and Roger playing against each other and when they're on opposite halves of the draw it takes a lot to go right for them to compete against each other,” said Murray. “When they're right next to each other, it's only one or two matches, people want to see it. If they get there it will be a packed house and that's good for tennis.”
Murray has been the man to beat at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in recent months, winning the past two of the elite tournaments in Shanghai and Paris. The Scot is hoping that momentum will carry him to a first BNP Paribas Open title, having finished runner-up in the desert in 2009 (l. to Nadal). It’s one of few goals Murray has left to achieve in tennis, but as he explained to the media, all his successes bring him even more happiness now.
"The past few years have been great on and off the court,” said the Dunblane native, who married his wife, Kim Sears, in April 2015 and welcomed his first child, Sophia Olivia, just over one year ago.
“I've certainly enjoyed my wins a lot more than I did that first Wimbledon (in 2013), when it took me a little while to get back on track after that. I had my back surgery quite soon afterwards, but also I felt like that was what I was playing tennis for, that my reason for playing was to win Wimbledon. After that, what else was there for me?
“But definitely now I've moved on from that. I play tennis predominantly for myself and my family now and I want to keep achieving as much as I can.”