Indian Wells R3 previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Del Potro, Kyrgios vs. Zverev

The proverbial “Group of Death” will heat up in earnest on Tuesday with two of the entire tournament’s most marquee third-round matchups. Novak Djokovic is going up against Juan Martin Del Potro, while Nick Kyrgios is facing Alexander Zverev.

(31) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

Djokovic and Del Potro will be doing battle for the 17th time in their careers and for the second time this season when they meet again in the BNP Paribas Open third round on Tuesday. The head-to-head series stands at 12-4 in favor of Djokovic, who just recently got the job done 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Acapulco second round. Although the current world No. 2 is 4-1 in their last five encounters dating back to 2013 at Wimbledon, Del Potro’s lone win during this stretch was a big one–7-6(4), 7-6(2) in the Rio Olympics opening round.

Another all-too-early showdown is in the cards for the California desert, mainly because Del Potro–due to relative inactivity–does not yet have the top eight, top 16, or at least top 24 seeding that he deserves. The 35th-ranked Argentine, who skipped the Australian summer, is an abbreviated 5-2 this season following a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over countryman Federico Delbonis on Sunday. Djokovic is looking to bounce back from disappointing losses in Melbourne (to Denis Istomin) and Acapulco (to Nick Kyrgios). The second-seeded Serb won his Indian Wells opener but was not overly impressive during a 6-4, 7-6(5) defeat of Kyle Edmund on Sunday. Conditions in Indian Wells should suit Del Potro perfectly and this is a real opportunity for him with Djokovic still just a bit out of sorts.

Pick: Del Potro in 3

(15) Nick Kyrgios vs. (18) Alexander Zverev

Friends and occasional doubles partners, Kyrgios and Zverev will see each other on opposite sides of the net in an intriguing third-round collision on Sunday. Zverev is back on the scene of one of 2016’s most memorable matches. During fourth-round action last year, the German served for an upset Rafael Nadal and had match point at 5-3, 40-30 in the third set only to net a sitting forehand volley. Nadal ended up taking the last four games to prevail 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5. Staring at another rough draw in Indian Wells, Zverev kicked off his fortnight with a 7-6(10), 6-3 victory over Facundo Bagnis on Sunday afternoon.

Kyrgios, who also took care of a left-handed Argentine in his opener (beat Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4), failed to build on his Acapulco upset of Djokovic as he promptly dropped his next match against Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-1, 7-5. Kyrgios is a decent 8-3 this year but one of his three defeats saw him blow a two-set lead of Andreas Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open. It is hard to say which Kyrgios will be on display whenever he takes the court, and a slightly more reliable Zverev should be eager to make amends for last season’s near-miss in the desert.

Pick: Zverev in 3

31 Comments on Indian Wells R3 previews and predictions: Djokovic vs. Del Potro, Kyrgios vs. Zverev

  1. Del Po in three ,conditions suit him ,finalist in 2013

    Zverev in three, seems more reliable and focussed than Kyrgios.

  2. Although I would love to see Delpo get the win, I think Djokovic will find a way to prevail. I want Sascha to win and think he has a slight edge, but this match-up is really too close to call. I think it will come down to which player has a better serving day.

    • I am going back and forth with both matches.

      Novak got Delpo last time and I think he is the fitter player. I would love to see Delpo win, but I think Novak will do it in 3 sets.

      Zverev and Kyrgios is really a toss up. Either guy could prevail. Kyrgios seems to be focused and playing great tennis. If he keeps it together then I think he will win in 3 sets.

  3. djokovic will beat del potro..he might not have been at his best against edmund,but del potro was worse against a crapier oponent in delbonis.Kyrgios and zverev is an awesome match,but if nick is focused he won t lose this match,he s the better server, returner ,has the better fh ,better volleys ,better consistenccy in his game…while zverev has better backhand and movement/defense.But it can very easily go zverves way though,if kyrgios slips a shitty game in there.Anyway I ll go with kyrgios in this one,straight sets.

  4. I knew Nick would win, he is playing beautifully when he is up to the task! His tennis, the way he executes the shots are simply amazing! He is unbelievable player when he is focused…i was surprised Ricky picked Zverev to win. I thought Nick proved last week that he is getting serious about tennis when he’s beaten Novak in straights…
    I think Novak will overcome Delpo in 3

    • I thought that Krygios/Zverev would be more competitive. But Kyrgios seems to be very focused and in the zone right now.

      I expect that these two young guys will be facing each other a lot more!

  5. Delpo just lacks something that the big four have – he’s just a power hitter, lacks the guile that the big four have. Djoko wins the set by playing smart tennis, overcoming the power hitting of Delpo.

    Djoko may even win in straight sets now.

  6. Goodness, what was that from Djoko? So Djoko is now 1-4 down in second set. Delpo please take the set and go for the win in the third.

    PS. Had Delpo ever played against Kyrgios?

  7. So one dimensional, this Delpo, playing like a one trick pony! He practically camps at his BH corner all night long and rinses and repeats the same one trick i.e. sliced BH CC, nothing else! He doesn’t move his legs, doesn’t come forward, doesn’t change direction; and he expects to win against the defending champion playing like that?

    Hopefully Kyrgios can make it more interesting tomorrow.

  8. If Delpo wants to beat Djoko, he has to do it in straight sets,once it goes the distance, Djoko would win.

  9. Early days but if Nole just decides to play the rest of the season with the same intensity as in the third set, he will give himself more than a decent chance of winning multiple slams this season too.

    • I doubt. He’s at best at 70% of his dominant self now and I doubt he can get back to his previous high level. Delpo is too one dimensional to beat a Djoko at 70%, bearing in mind Delpo himself isn’t at 100% either.

      I fancy the other big four’s chances over him at the slams this season. There’s something lacking in Djoko and I think the Fed of AO this year would exploit that when they meet. Fed doesn’t fear Djoko.

      Rafa’s level is still unproven yet vs Djoko so until he beats Djoko, then I’ll take him over Djoko at the FO. Stan will most likely be there at the slams – FO and USO; Murray and Fed at Wimbledon so Djoko will have a hard time winning at the slams if he plays at his current level.

      I’m disappointed with the way Delpo played against Djoko; after the Acapulco loss, it seems that Delpo still doesn’t learn a thing or two about how to beat this Djoko. I mean why was he just contented camping at his BH corner and slicing his BH CC all the time instead of moving his feet to hit his FH or to change direction? Djoko just hit his DTL BH after a few exchanges CC and then got the winner and he just repeated that tactic all the time yet Delpo failed to do anything about it!

  10. It will be interesting to see what happens with Novak and Kyrgios tomorrow.

    I thought when Novak got the break in the third set that was the key moment. Delpo really lost it and just seemed to stop competing and playing his game. Also, Novak raised his level of play and seemed to gain confidence when he got the break.

    I would think Novak will not want Kyrgios to beat him again. Krygios is playing great tennis and managing to do it without all the drama and histrionics.

    I am anxious to see what happens with these two.

    • More like Delpo lost the plot and just hit harder ending up over hitting. Delpo is developing an inferiority complex when facing Djoko, just like Monfils, Tsonga and sadly Rafa.

      • Nah Delpo has been one dimensional since his return. He’s limited due to his wrist.

        Very dangerous to Big 4 but only when they are not near their best.

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