Friends and familiar foes Gael Monfils and John Isner will meet again in the Indian Wells third round on Monday. Dominic Thiem and Mischa Zverev are also aiming for a place in the last 16.
(10) Gael Monfils vs. (20) John Isner
Monfils and Isner will be squaring off for the ninth time in their careers when they collide in round three of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday. The head-to-head series is all tied up at four wins apiece, and all eight of their previous meetings have come on hard courts (Isner leads 4-2 outdoors). They have not clashed since 2014, when Monfils prevailed 6-4, 7-6(4) at the Paris Masters.
For a while on Friday it looked like another Monfils-Isner showdown would not come to fruition. Clearly not feeling well during his opener against Darian King, the 10th-seeded Frenchman seemed close to retirement in the first set but finally recovered to dominate 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. Monfils is a mediocre 7-3 this season and has not advanced past the quarterfinals of any tournament. Isner prevailed in typical fashion on Friday, using two successful tiebreakers to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(0), 7-6(6). The 6’10” American is a stellar 21-9 lifetime in Indian Wells with a runner-up finish in 2012 and semifinal showing in 2014. He has lost prior to the fourth round only three times in nine appearances. Even if Monfils is 100 percent, and that does not appear likely, Isner should have the edge in this one.
Pick: Isner in 3
(29) Mischa Zverev vs. (8) Dominic Thiem
Thiem and Zverev have already faced each other once this fortnight in Indian Wells–in doubles–and they will do so again on Monday. In a first-round match on Friday, the Zverev brothers took down Thiem and Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(4), 6-4. This will be their second career encounter in singles, with Zverev having prevailed 7-6(4), 6-2 on the grass courts of Stuttgart in 2015.
Two years later, both men are playing much better tennis and have improved their rankings dramatically. Zverev peaked at a career-high of 30th in the world last month and currently registers at No. 33, thanks mostly to a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open that included an upset of Andy Murray. The 29-year-old lost five matches in a row immediately thereafter, but he picked up a much-needed win over Joao Sousa via a 6-4, 6-3 decision on Saturday. Thiem advanced with a routine 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Jeremy Chardy, thus improving his 2017 record to 15-6. As usual, the ninth-ranked Austrian has done most of his damage on clay with a title to help offset several disappointing hard-court losses. Thiem will have a better chance now than he did against Zverev on grass, but an upset still looks like a very real possibility.
Pick: Zverev in 3