An intriguing fourth-rounder between Dominic Thiem and Gael Monfils will take place in Indian Wells on Wednesday. Former semifinalist David Goffin and No. 27 seed Pablo Cuevas are also aiming for a place in the quarters.
(10) Gael Monfils vs. (8) Dominic Thiem
Thiem and Monfils will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in round four of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. Both of their previous meetings have gone Thiem’s way; 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 on the clay courts of Umag in 2015 and 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 at the World Tour Finals last fall. Although it is way too early to tell with certainty, a return trip to London may be in the cards for Thiem (and perhaps for both men). The ninth-ranked Austrian is currently fifth in the 2017 race despite having played only tournament on his favorite surface (he won a 500-point title on the red clay of Rio de Janeiro). Theim has bounced back from an Acapulco quarterfinal loss to Sam Querrey with routine wins in Indian Wells over Jeremy Chardy and Mischa Zverev.
Monfils was clearly under the weather for his opening match against Darian King, but he recovered for a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory. Dealing with no such sickness issues on Monday night, the 11th-ranked Frenchman cruised past John Isner 6-2, 6-4 while breaking the big man thee times and refusing to give his opponent a look at even one break point. Monfils is a decent 8-3 this year but has not advanced to the semifinals of any tournament. Although clay would be even more advantageous for Thiem, conditions in Indian Wells suit his game well and he should be able to improve to 3-0 lifetime against Monfils.
Pick: Thiem in 3
(11) David Goffin vs. (27) Pablo Cuevas
Goffin made a run to the Indian Wells semifinals last year and he could not be any more content with his chances of defending those points. In a section of the draw vacated by Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Goffin is the highest remaining seed in the top quarter. The 12th-ranked Belgian endured a scare of his own last Saturday, but he battled back from a break down in the third set to beat Karen Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 before getting the best of Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(3), 6-4. Goffin is a stellar 15-5 this season with a quarterfinal performance at the Australian Open and runner-up showings in Sofia and Rotterdam.
Up next for the No. 11 seed on Wednesday is Cuevas, who benefited from Tsonga’s early exit at the hands of Fabio Fognini. Cuevas scraped past Martin Klizan 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in the second round and then crushed Fognini 6-1, 6-4 on Monday night. The 30th-ranked Uruguayan started this season 1-4 but from just about out of nowhere captured the Sao Paulo title earlier this month. Cuevas’ confidence has been restored, but he would much rather be playing on clay for his first-ever showdown against Goffin.
Pick: Goffin in 2