An intriguing opener on Day 1 in Indian Wells will pit Viktor Troicki against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Ryan Harrison and Damir Dzumhur are also on Thursday’s first-round schedule in what will be a rematch of a Memphis quarterfinal.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Viktor Troicki
Troicki and Dolgopolov will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers and for the first time in almost six full years when they clash in round one of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday. Both of their previous encounters have gone Troicki’s way; 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-1 on the hard courts of New Haven in 2010 and 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the 2011 French Open. The 39th-ranked Serb had been in contention for an Indian Wells seed, but consecutive first-round losses at 500-point events (to Richard Gasquet in Rotterdam and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Dubai) ended his hopes.
Dolgopolov started this season 1-4, but he is 7-2 in his last nine matches–including 7-1 not counting retirements (he pulled the plug early in last month’s Rio de Janeiro quarterfinals against Pablo Carreno Busta because of a hip injury). The 64th-ranked Ukrainian’s recent run features a title in Buenos Aires, where he ousted Carreno Busta, Pablo Cuevas, and Kei Nishikori along the way. Dolgopolov has dropped his opening match in the desert only once in six previous appearances and he reached the semis in 2014, so he has to like his chances of maintaining momentum.
Pick: Dolgopolov in 3
Damir Dzumhur vs. Ryan Harrison
Harrison and Dzumhur will be facing each other for the second time in their careers and for the second time during this American hard-court swing when they meet again on Thursday. They just squared off in the Memphis quarterfinals, a showdown taken by Harrison 6-3, 6-4 en route to his first-ever ATP title. The American, who registers just two spots off his career-high ranking at 45th in the world, is 7-2 at the ATP level this year and also captured a Challenger title in Dallas.
Dzumhur has been surprisingly relevant so far in 2017. In addition to his quarterfinal performance in Memphis, the world No. 67 from Bosnia and Herzegovina also faced Juan Martin Del Potro in the Argentine’s second match of the season (lost 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in the Delray Beach second round) before making a run to the Dubai quarters that included an upset of Stan Wawrinka. Dzuhmur is playing well, but he struggled to come up with any offensive weapons necessary to hit through Harrison’s defense in Memphis–whereas Harrison has the serve and forehand firepower that can eventually wear down Dzumhur’s counter-punching.
Pick: Harrison in 3