Indian Wells full tournament preview and predictions

There’s a tournament within a tournament this fortnight in Indian Wells. The bottom quarter of the BNP Paribas Open draw is stronger by itself than the entirety of any 500-point event on the whole tennis calendar.

It includes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Nick Kyrgios, and Alexander Zverev. Either Djokovic or Del Potro will lose prior to the fourth round. The same goes for Kyrgios and Zverev. Either Nadal or Federer will be out before the quarterfinals begin.

Djokovic vs. Del Potro in the third round would be a rematch of a recent Acapulco second-round affair, won by the Serb 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal vs. Federer in the last 16, of course, would be a rematch of the Australian Open final–which went Federer’s way after five sets. Given that the season’s first Grand Slam might as well have been played on an ice rink, conditions in the desert should be more advantageous to the Spaniard.

Speaking of advantages, at the other end of the luck spectrum in regards to the Indian Wells draw are Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and Grigor Dimitrov, just to name a few. The top-seeded Murray is in a quarter with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin (Tsonga’s doubles partner in the desert), and Roberto Bautista Agut. Nishikori and Dimitrov are in the softer section of the loaded bottom half, where they will contend for a semifinal spot along with Marin Cilic and Jack Sock.

Seeds at risk of losing their first match:

(30) Feliciano Lopez: Frances Tiafoe (who faces Dusan Lajovic in round one) played well in Indian Wells last year, beating Taylor Fritz before falling to Goffin in a third-set tiebreaker. The American teenager may go even further in 2017 at Lopez’s expense.

(22) Albert Ramos-Vinolas: How Ramos-Vinolas snuck all the way up the No. 22 seed is one of the great mysteries of this tournament. But he may not stick around long. Both Ryan Harrison (Memphis champion and Dallas Challenger champion) and Damir Dzumhur (Memphis and Dubai quarterfinalist) are in fine form.

(27) Pablo Cuevas: Cuevas is making a quick transition from his preferred clay-court surface to hard after triumphing on Monday in Sao Paulo. Likely second-round opponent Martin Klizan is talented but volatile. If the good Klizan shows up in the desert, he should beat Cuevas on hards. If the bad Klizan shows up in the desert, Cuevas’ second-round opponent will be Thiago Monteiro.

(28) Philipp Kohlschreiber: Kohlschreiber has the misfortune of going up against whoever emerges from the best of the entire first-round contests: Viktor Troicki vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov. A proven force in Indian Wells, Dolgopolov would be especially difficult. And has Kohlschreiber recovered from blowing seven match points against Murray in Dubai?

(29) Mischa Zverev: Not too surprisingly, Zverev has been a disaster since upsetting Murray to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals. In fact, he has not won a single match since the best victory of his career (0-5). The veteran German would also rather face either Joao Sousa or Diego Schwartzman on a quicker court.

(32) Marcel Granollers: How is Granollers seeded at Masters 1000 tournament? A whole lot of withdrawals ahead of him in the rankings–that’s how. He awaits the winner of one of the tougher first-round matchups featuring Nicolas Mahut and Malek Jaziri.

(6) Marin Cilic: Cilic should advance at least to the third round, but neither Benoit Paire nor Taylor Fritz would be any kind of pushover. The Croat’s season has been disappointing at best so far.

Quarterfinal predictions: Andy Murray over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Dominic Thiem over Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov over Lucas Pouille, and Rafael Nadal over Alexander Zverev

Semifinals: Murray over Thiem and Nadal over Dimitrov

Final: Nadal over Murray


75 Comments on Indian Wells full tournament preview and predictions

  1. …. but I like Ricky’s pick of Dimi though, he’s one guy I will pick to win a slam this year, at Wimbledon most likely.

    I think Dimi can beat Kei or Cilic or whoever in that quarter. I don’t know about Rafa or Thiem, if IW remains a high bounce surface perhaps it suits both of them. Stan is in a mini slump now due to his knee injury, but come the clay events, I think he will come back to life (side note: I have Rafa and Stan making the FO final if the draw permits, with Rafa winning it because of Stan’s weakness in his SHBH vs Rafa’s topspin FH even though Stan was 100% at slam finals. Djoko vs Stan doesn’t/didn’t have that advantage).

    Murray had/has very poor records at IW, the surface doesn’t suit him. Unless he’s playing exceptionally well, I think Tsonga when playing well will have a good chance of beating Murray here.

    • wawrinka doesn t have a weakness against nadal s topspin ..his backhand handles high balls very well that why it s most likely the greatest 1 hander ever.

      • Have you ever watched Rafa vs Stan on clay? Stan himself complained that Rafa’s topspin FH to his SHBH was a problem for him, when he had to hit the shot at his shoulder level! SHBH players always have problem with Rafa on clay.

  2. Ha ha! Ricky is trying to prove me wrong by choosing Nadal for the title. 😉 Let’s hope for once Ricky is correct, but I’m not holding my breath. That’s one hell of a Qtr Rafa is in, but who knows? Sometimes draws bark more than they bite.

        • no mind games. Ricky’s picks are working just as they always have. These days the burden of ‘until proven otherwise’ lies with Djokovic! Hence, he didn’t even pick Djokovic to win his quarter despite the Serbian being the best on these slow hard courts. He has again, picked Rafa over Roger! Interestingly, he has now picked Nadal over Zverev as well so all justified and reasonable.

          I am also hopeful of Nadal having a good run. I think he will beat Federer in 3 sets. You never know if that match will happen as a lot of players nowadays believe they can beat Fedal and Novak. I am really keen to watch another Fedal on a slower court. This time, Rafa will be more wary of Roger’s more potent and penetrative backhand not make the mistake of being passive/predictable with his own forehand. Rafa’s forehand in the first set was shit and really allowed Federer to believe he could hang with Rafa from the baseline.

          If Rafa can make the final, I will be very very delighted. Beating players in his quarter and then beating Dimi (who will be one HECK of a challenge for everyone this season) , would be a massive achievement.

  3. Whilst Djokovic’s section is loaded with 3 of the Big 4 plus Kyrgios, Sasha & Delpo, as far as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are concerned, anything short of winning the title would not be a triumph so it doesn’t matter whether they go out in the 2nd, 4th or SF, the disappointment is the same.

    Whoever comes out of that section, would have done the hard part and will be full of confidence going forward.

    Vamos Rafa!

  4. Don’t forget how important these tournament are for the rankings and the race! It is a heated battle at the moment. It definitely would mean something to ‘Rafedkovic’ to reach the SF/final and lose to Murray or Dimi rather than crashing in the second or third round.

    • We are talking about 360 points to reach the SF, that’s not going to make too much difference in ranking points, is it?

      • The 360 points alone won’t make a difference but that’s not how it works. It is not the only masters 1000 event. What I mean to say is that these players will now approach the masters event with the points thing in their mind.

        Don’t forget that last year’s was decided at the last match of the season!!!

        • Well, well, well! So Ricky picked Rafa! No bias there! Hey, he picked Rafa over Zverev! He picked Rafa over Novak! He picked Rafa to win!

          Ricky does like to see players show him something. Novak has his troubles now and therefore, Ricky did not pick him to get through his part of the draw!

          I expect Rafa to be ready for Fed this time. I think it would be great for Rafa to cone out of the draw of death and get to the final!

          Rankings points are rankings points!

    • Shireling,

      What you say may well happen, but at least this is not Bof5 set matches. Bof3 is easier than a four or five setter. We know that Rafa is incredibly fit and so is Novak.

      I am not ready to assum that whoever gets through to the final will fall meekly to the player who comes out of the other half of the draw. There could be some tough matches in the easier half of the draw.

      Remember Murray/Zverev at the AO? Murray had a great draw and that didn’t help him in the end.

      We will have to wait and see.
      😀

  5. Ricky agrees with my pick of Rafa winning his quarter on an earlier thread.

    He usually conservatively waits for a player to reverse a losing trend to another Big 4 so somewhat surprised he agrees.

  6. Round 1:
    Pospisil over Lu in 3
    Tiafoe over Lajovic in 2
    Opelka over Gojowczyk in 3
    Mannarino over Monaco in 2
    Khachanov over Robredo in 3
    Harrison over Dzumhur in 2
    Klizan over Monteiro in 2
    Fognini over Kravchuk in 3
    Haase over Lorenzi in 3
    Dolgopolov over Troicki in 3
    Ymer over Nishioka in 3
    Fratangelo over Tomic in 3
    Basilashvili over King in 3
    Thompson over Tursunov in 2
    Schwartzman over Sousa in 3
    Chardy over Albot in 3
    Fritz over Paire in 3
    Mahut over Jaziri in 3
    Coric over Laaksonen in 3
    Youzhny over Medvedev in 3
    Struff over Giraldo in 3
    Young over Kozlov in 2
    Olivo over Vesely in 2
    Brown over Evans in 3
    Pella over Garcia-Lopez in 3
    Herbert over Bellucci in 2
    Anderson over Gaio in 2
    Sela over Robert in 3
    Copil over Zeballos in 2
    Benneteau over Bagnis in 2
    Delbonis over Kuznetsov in 3
    Edmund over Elias in 2

  7. Round 2:
    Murray over Pospisil in 2
    Tiafoe over Lopez in 3
    Opelka over Carreno Busta in 3
    Bautista Agut over Mannarino in 2
    Goffin over Khachanov in 2
    Harrison over Ramos-Vinolas in 3
    Klizan over Cuevas in 3
    Tsonga over Fognini in 2
    Wawrinka over Haase in 3
    Dolgopolov over Kohlschreiber in 3
    Karlovic over Ymer in 2
    Berdych over Fratangelo in 2
    Monfils over Basilashvili in 2
    Isner over Thompson in 2
    M. Zverev over Schwartzman in 3
    Thiem over Chardy in 2
    Cilic over Fritz in 2
    Mahut over Granollers in 3
    Sock over Coric in 2
    Dimitrov over Youzhny in 2
    Pouille over Struff in 2
    Querrey over Young in 2
    Muller over Olivo in 2
    Nishikori over Brown in 2
    Nadal over Pella in 2
    Verdasco over Herbert in 2
    Johnson over Anderson in 3
    Federer over Sela in 2
    Kyrgios over Copil in 2
    A. Zverev over Benneteau in 3
    Del Potro over Delbonis in 2
    Djokovic over Edmund in 2

  8. Round 3:
    Murray over Tiafoe in 2
    Bautista Agut over Opelka in 3
    Goffin over Harrison in 2
    Tsonga over Klizan in 2
    Wawrinka over Dolgopolov in 3
    Berdych over Karlovic in 3
    Monfils over Isner in 3
    Thiem over M. Zverev in 2
    Cilic over Mahut in 2
    Dimitrov over Sock in 3
    Querrey over Pouille in 3
    Nishikori over Muller in 2
    Nadal over Verdasco in 3
    Federer over Johnson in 2
    Kyrgios over A. Zverev in 2
    Del Potro over Djokovic in 3

  9. “…conditions in the desert should be more advantageous to the Spaniard.”

    That’s what most would have assumed about Melbourne prior to the tournament bot the conditions were intentionally quickened. Hope Larry will keep conditions favourable for his friend Rafa.

    Hope to see Rafa thanking Larry again like at the 1:00 mark here. Enjoy…

  10. Round 4:
    Murray over Bautista Agut in 2
    Tsonga over Goffin in 2
    Wawrinka over Berdych in 2
    Thiem over Monfils in 3
    Dimitrov over Cilic in 3
    Nishikori over Querrey in 3
    Federer over Nadal in 3
    Del Potro over Kyrgios in 3
    QF:
    Murray over Tsonga in 3
    Wawrinka over Thiem in 3
    Nishikori over Dimitrov in 3
    Federer over Del Potro in 2
    SF:
    Wawrinka over Murray in 3
    Federer over Nishikori in 3
    Final:
    Fed over Stanimal in 2

    • Nah, Rafa over Fed in two. Fed was rusty at Dubai, one of his fav event, don’t think he would suddenly sharpened up. His BH on the high bouncing slow courts of IW will be a liability against Rafa’s topspin FH.

    • Stanimal? Stan will be out very soon, he’s not doing well at the moment. I do think it will be either Murray or Tsonga to make the final.

      • It’s possible. I have him working his way into form and reaching the final but he could also go out early to Haase or Kohlschreiber/Dolgopolov. Hope he doesn’t though.

  11. I like Ricky’s bold picks of Zverev making it out of his section and Pouille making the QF. So excited for this tourney man!!

  12. I still think if Rafa passed Novak he would win the whole thing! I still see Novak as the biggest danger despite the fact that he lost to Nick and is in the slump right now. I don’t think Rafa is mentally there to easily overcome his lapses when facing Novak..,I fear Rafa would beat himself once again..,But I will hope and cheer for Rafa to beat Novak because that is his one last obstacle confidence wise…from there on Rafa will be unbeatable…

    Vamos Champ!

    • Yeah he must beat Novak before we can be really confident. The conditions suit Rafa and he is playing well. Rafa will be quite tough to beat here. Remember he had set point against Novak last year as well.

      • I actually would like to see Rafa face Novak. It has to happen at some point. He was set to meet Novak in the semifinals at the AO, i believe. But we know what happened with Novak!

        This is the challenge that Rafa will have to face somewhere along the way. Novak may have his own troubles right now, but he has been able to beat Rafa consistently in the last two years.

        If it happens at the IW, then I say bring it on!

  13. Djokovic is really under-confident at the moment. He was shabby in set 1 and got away with it as Edmond was making errors. Now, Edmund’s forehand is working CRAZY. He is injecting pace so effortlessly and has hit quite a few running forehand DTL winner. Djokovic is currently also not the wall we’ve so much used to seeing him be and is struggling. Edmund is about to make it 3-0. Novak will have to raise his level.

    • Yeah Edmund is balling. We may have djoker and Murray out in their first matches. Djoker still up right now but overall it’s not looking great for Novak even if he got back on serve.

      • yup. he broke back but then again gets broken. He’s faced break point on all of his service games this set.

        • Novak is still not himself. I thought Edmund was going to take it to a third set. I was impressed with Edmund giving Novak all he could handle at times. Novak isn’t as dominating as he used to be in baseline rallies. He double faults when he normally would not. He showed some vulnerability, but the good news for him is that he got the win. Unlike Andy, he managed to do enough to stay in the tournament.

          • Now Novak gets to play Delpo again! Oh and Kyrgios is lurking in his section of the draw.

            • That is probably true. Pospy may be lower ranked than Edmund but his level against Murray woulda probably taken down this out of sorts Djokovic. I was really surprised Edmund didn’t get the second. He deserved to take it.

            • Pospisil is an exciting player to watch. He has an attacking mindset, plays an attacking game and he’s always trying to move to the net whenever possible. I also feel that he has good speed around the court and good footwork too, always moving his feet making adjustments all the time. He’s lanky and light footed, moves so smoothly; makes Murray looks like lumbering around the court in comparison as Murray looks huge compared to him.

  14. Cilic! Such an inconsistent player! He’s so hopeless on this IW court. He was up a break in the second set after clinching the first and yet he let the match to slip away! He threw Fritz a lifeline and Fritz gladly took it.

    Cilic is poor on slow surfaces, from AO to European clay; he only comes alive on grass and on fast HCs; he better comes alive then or else he’ll be in free fall where his ranking is concerned.

  15. I just watched the highlights of Fed’s match. I think this Federer will beat Nadal if they face each other in Indian Wells. Only Krygios could match this Federer if he is serious only.

  16. Shame it wasn’t Dan Evans playing Djokovic yesterday because he was there for the taking. Dan wouldn’t have missed the chance to beat him. Kyle simply didn’t push himself he played Djokovic’s game and came out worse in spite of all the chances he had.

    Pospisil showed that he is a great doubles player; his all round court game was too much for Andy to handle. That’s the answer to Andy and Novak, mix it up bit.

    • Exactly; which is why Fed at his ripe old age still could beat Djoko and Murray when they are the top two guys, and when others failed. The answer is to be aggressive, mix things up, be unpredictable and plays an all court game.

      Rafa imo has the ability to do so but it’s not wired into him to play like that all the time. He prefers to camp at the baseline and grind away all the time, playing into Djoko’s hands I feel. It always puzzle me as to why Rafa seems lacking in confidence to move to the net regularly, when he’s so good at the net when he’s playing doubles.

      In his earlier days (2003-2005), he had no fear coming forward to the net; right now he becomes so reluctant to do so. Time for a change in mindset for him.

      • Saw a you tube short highlight of Rafa vs Puerta at Montreal 2005. That Rafa, he’s so quick and so aggressive, not afraid to move forward into the fore court and to the net, he’s just so exciting a player to watch; it’s no wonder he became so popular at such a young age.

        We have Pospisil, Kygrios, A Zverev and some other youngsters now but none of them has young Rafa’s precision of shots, court craft, tennis acumen, presence of mind during a match.

  17. So much around what was wrong with Murray but Pospy was just on his game and he’s simply much better than his ranking. Be nice to see him find consistency. I saw him beat Berdych back in 2013 when wifey and I were in Montreal. He made it to semis losing to Raonic in a 3rd set TB. He actually had a better all round game than Milos at the time (which isn’t saying all that much I know). He had a lot of personal stuff going on last year and multiple injuries the last two.

    Just one match but let’s see.

    • Yes! Let’s give Pospy some credit! He came out with an aggressive game plan and executed it. Murray again did not look like himself, his second serve stats were terrible. He seemed off and not that sharp, but credit Pospy who played like a much higher ranked player.

      Since Murray became #1 he hasn’t seemed like the same player. Another early exit.

  18. After Querrey beat Rafa in Mexico, Ricky predicted he’d lose in his first IW match.

    He was right. I wan’t at all surprised either.

    • This is what bothers me so much about Rafa losing to Querrey. He had one tournament where he played well and won a title against a sub-par Rafa. Then he shows up
      in IW and loses early to Young. I was not surprised either. He can’t play consistently well at all.

  19. Nadal-Tomic on fire today. Tomic’s playing much better than he did on round 1 and rafa is pretty sharp too.

    • Well pospy took the first and Lajovic just got the second. I just started streaming it when it was set point Lajovic and Lajovic just hit the filthiest backhand. His one hander is pretty wicked. Also streamed Berdych vs Nishioka for a little while and holy crap Berdych was up 6-1 5-3 and served for it up 5-4 and double faulted twice in one game and started spraying errors a bunch plus Nishioka is so fast and playing so solid and seeming to get under Berdych’s skin with his wicked defense and tenacity. Nishioka is a baller man. 7-5 in the breaker for the young Japanese lefty. Both Pospy/Lajovic and Nishioka/Berdych going the distance.

      • Yeah LOL…Nishioka is fun to watch! I was streaming Lajovic v Pospy and saw those sick one-handers Lajovic hit – that guy is good. I’ve rarely seen Dusan Lajovic or Yoshi Nishioka. It’s confusing which match to watch. Also have dubs on Tennis Channel… PHH/Mahut v Nole/Viktor. Incredible tennis going on…

  20. Nishioka’s defense was UNREAL!! He basically broke down Berdych mentally by getting so many balls back. I couldn’t believe some of the gets he had in points he ended up winning. Amazing moment for him. Meanwhile Pospisil is in a tough situation at 5-5 in the third had match points at 5-4 and lost his serve to love when serving for it at 5-3.

  21. Just when I thought Pospisil was gonna start making an awesome comeback to where he was in the rankings a few years ago. Loses multiple leads in a match to Lajovic after he beats Murray. 🙁 On the bright side I like Lajovic and his game and that’s pretty sweet to see him get the win. Huge tournament for him. He’s got a solid shot against PCB next round.

    • Wow! Popsy lost? I started watching other programming and took a brief break from my marathon tennis watchhing, only to find out the both Berdy and Popsy lost.

      I did see Nishioka’s reaction and it was quite something to see! He finally had a moment! Good for him! But I feel for Popsy not being able to capitalize on his win against Murray.

      • Nny

        Can’t take anymore! Didn’t know I could hit the wall watching tennis but I have…I’m done, completely fried. Aga losing to Peng and …that’s enough. See you tomorrow! 😀

        • rc,

          Oh, I didn’t know that Aga lost! I was watching something else! My brain was fried ftomdo much tennis! Bummed that Aga lost!
          ☹️

          • Autocorrect garbled my last post again!

            I was trying to say that my brain is fried from too much tennis!

      • That’s something that always happen – happened to Querrey, happened to Verdasco, now happened to Pospisil. They are just not consistently good enough to string a few wins together esp after beating a big name.

        The way Nishioka played, it put into perspective why Rafa had a hard time against him at Acapulco but Rafa was just too good to lose to him.

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