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So Far Favorites Flop (Except For Djokovic), Surprises Abound In Indian Wells Tennis

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in action against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2019. The men's and women's final will be played on 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH
Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in action against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2019. The men’s and women’s final will be played on 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Only three days of main-draw action have taken place at the BNP Paribas Open, but the men’s singles draw is already in borderline shambles. Here is just one example: either Felix Auger-Aliassime, Yoshihito Nishioka, Laslo Djere, or Miomir Kecmanovic is guaranteed to reach the quarterfinals.

 

Auger-Aliassime is a big name, but he is a mere18 yeas old and just spent the entire month of March playing on clay. Djere also toured the Golden Swing and was almost unknown to anyone except the hardest-core tennis fans before capturing the Rio de Janeiro title from out of nowhere (beating none other than Auger-Aliassime in the final). Nishioka is still ranked outside the top 70 in his comeback from a 2017 ACL injury. Kecmanovic, the world No. 130, lost in Indian Wells qualifying a few days ago.

 

And this is just one example.

 

Also in the third round are…wait for it…Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Marcos Giron. Ranked 97th, the 29-year-old Gunneswaran had been 3-10 at the ATP level in his entire career and 0-4 this season prior to arriving in the desert. Giron, 25, had been 1-3 lifetime on the main tour. The former UCLA Bruin finds himself at No. 2017 in the rankings.

 

With all of that transpiring, 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic (yes, 40) ousting world No. 12 Borna Coric in straight sets barely even made any news. Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios returning to his former self with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber also went mostly unnoticed.

 

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against Bjorn Fratangelo of the US during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2019. The men's and women's final will be played on 17 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against Bjorn Fratangelo of the US during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2019. The men’s and women’s final will be played on 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

At least Novak Djokovic took care business, but even he endured a bit of a scare. The top-seeded Serb trailed Bjorn Fratangelo by a break in the first set and by a mini-break late in the ensuing tiebreaker but ended up getting the job done 7-6(5), 6-2.

 

Fellow seeds Coric, Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Roberto Bautista Agut, Alex de Minaur, and Marco Cecchinato were not so fortunate.

 

Tsitsipas got slammed by Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-2, Basilashvili fizzled out to Gunneswaran in a third-set tiebreaker, Bautista Agut lost to Nishioka 7-6(3), 6-4, de Minaur was stunned by Giron despite dominating the first set 6-1, and Cecchinator got crushed by Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-2.

 

Does all of this carnage means Djokovic will be unchallenged by unspectacular competition throughout the entire fortnight? Maybe. Or maybe it means we are in for a lot more surprises….

 

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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