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Ricky’s Preview and Predictions For the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells

Photo by @BNPPARIBASOPEN via Twitter



Ricky’s preview and predictions for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells


By Ricky Dimon


Rafael Nadal is out. So, too, is Andy Murray. Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Richard Gasquet are also on the sidelines. But Novak Djokovic is back, Kei Nishikori is continuing his return to tennis, and Milos Raonic is also making a rare appearance on tour.


Is the end result anything other than cakewalk to a second straight BNP Paribas Open title for Roger Federer? The draw is certainly set up for him to accomplish that feat, as the 36-year-old’s quarter—and his entire half—is soft compared to the rest of the bracket. Djokovic’s first event since the Australian Open, on the other hand, may not last through the opening weekend.


BNP Paribas Open


Where: Indian Wells, Calif.

Points: 1000

Top seed: Roger Federer

Defending champion: Roger Federer


Djokovic triumphed in Indian Wells for the fifth time in 2016. The draws have not been kind to him since. Last season the Serb got Juan Martin Del Potro in his second match, Nick Kyrgios in the last 16, and—if he had not succumbed to Kyrgios—Federer in the quarterfinals. This time around (if he beats a qualifier), he likely has Nishikori in the last 32 and Del Potro in the fourth round. That is an especially tough quarter of the draw, where Del Potro likely awaits Alex De Minaur before a possible third-round contest against David Ferrer.


Marin Cilic, who has played just two matches since losing to Federer in the Australian Open final, has the rare distinction of being the No. 2 seed at a Masters 1000 tournament. Cilic is on a collision course with Del Potro for the IW quarters.


Also in the bottom half are Raonic, Alexander Zverev, Lucas Pouille, and Jack Sock. With Raonic all the way down at No. 38 in the rankings, he could face Zverev as early as the third round. Based on both current form and a more favorable draw, Pouille may actually be the favorite in this section. The Frenchman’s February swing included a title in Montpellier and runner-up performances in both Marseille and Dubai.


It is hard to see when and where Federer will run into any difficulty. The Swiss is set to kick off his campaign against either Ryan Harrison or Federico Delbonis, and his nearest seed is Filip Krajinovic—who has showcased good form over the past four months but is unlikely to pose a real threat to the world’s best. Dominic Thiem, a potential QF adversary for Federer, would obviously much prefer to play against the world No. 1 on clay. The Austrian may be in line for a couple of entertaining early-rounds battles, with Stefanos Tsitsipas a possibility in round two and Denis Shapovalov a likely third-round foe.


Dimitrov will have no easy time as he tries to earn another shot at Federer after falling in their head-to-head Rotterdam final showdown last month. The Bulgarian’s quarter is also home to Andrey Rublev, Roberto Bautista Agut, Nick Kyrgios, and Kevin Anderson. Bautista Agut is coming off a title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, while Anderson won the New York Open and finished runner-up to Del Potro at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.


Some first-round matches to watch throughout the whole bracket are Tiafoe vs. Ernesto Escobedo, Donald Young vs. Borna Coric, Steve Johnson vs. Daniil Medvedev, Taylor Fritz vs. Reilly Opelka, and Fernando Verdasco vs. Guido Pella.


Seeds who could lose their first match:


(5) Dominic Thiem: Conditions in Indian Wells are actually not too bad for the Austrian, but the bottom line is that a hard court is a hard court. Thiem and Tsitsipas played a good one against each other in the Doha quarters two months ago (Thiem won 7-5, 6-4) and the 19-year-old has only grown in confidence since then.


(12) Tomas Berdych: No one other than Federer is a lock against Ivo Karlovic—not with that booming serve still coming in strong at 39 years old. The 6’11’’ Croat remains in okay form, with a third-round performance at the Aussie Open and a quarterfinal showing in Delray Beach. Playing solid but unspectacular tennis these days, Berdych trails the head-to-head series 5-3.


(15) John Isner: Isner’s 2018 campaign has been a complete debacle. The 6’10’’ American is plagued by a 2-5 record and has won just a single match at an ATP event (one win came in the Davis Cup first round). An unseeded Gael Monfils would be a terrible draw for Isner, who trails the head-to-head series 5-4 and got clobbered by the Frenchman in last season’s third round.


(19) Albert Ramos-Vinolas: As much as Ramos-Vinolas likes clay, his Golden Swing was mostly a disaster—especially following a decent start. He beat just one opponent in the top 100 (No. 98 Gerald Melzer) and was upset by Nicolas Jarry in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The Spaniard would have real trouble with either Young or Coric.


(21) Kyle Edmund: Peter Gojowyczk should actually be considered the favorite if he goes up against Edmund in round two. After all, due to physical problems Britain’s new No. 1 player has not played since his Aussie Open semifinal run. Gojowyczk, on the other hand, is 11-6 this year with a runner-up finish in Delray Beach.


(28) Feliciano Lopez: Tiafoe would have played Lopez in the IW second in 2017, but he lost to Dusan Lajovic right away. The 20-year-old Delray Beach champion has another tough opener on his hands against Escobedo, but Tiafoe could make a real run if gets through that one.


(30) Pablo Cuevas: Cuevas has the pressure of defending quarterfinal points, and current form suggests he has little chance of doing so. A potentially bad opening draw against Shapovalov does not help. The Canadian has won seven ATP-level matches in 2018 and advanced to the Delray Beach semis.


Quarterfinal picks: Roger Federer over Tomas Berdych, Roberto Bautista Agut over Karen Khachanov, Lucas Pouille over Alexander Zverev, and Juan Martin Del Potro over Marin Cilic

Semifinals: Federer over Bautista Agut and Del Potro over Pouille

Final: Federer over Del Potro


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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