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Ricky’s Tennis picks for Day 3 at the Indian Wells Masters, including Medvedev vs. McDonald

Daniil Medvedev of Russia hits a return to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their men’s final match on the fourteenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 12 September 2021. The US Open runs from 30 August through 12 September. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO.

By Ricky Dimon

Second-round action on the men’s side at the BNP Paribas Open gets underway on Saturday. U.S. Open champion Danill Medvedev headlines the schedule, while Turin hopefuls Hubert Hurkacz and Casper Ruud are also taking the court.

Ricky makes his picks for some of the marquee matchups.

(1) Daniil Medvedev vs. Mackenzie McDonald

Surprisingly, Medvedev and McDonald have already gone head-to-head five times. Unsurprisingly, Medvedev has won all five of their previous encounters. In fact, the second-ranked Russian has taken all 11 of their sets and only once has he been pushed to a tiebreaker–in their first-ever set at the 2018 Toronto Masters. They have squared off twice this season, with Medvedev dominating 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 at the Australian Open and 6-2, 6-2 at the Cincinnati Masters.

There is no reason to think anything will be different this time around. McDonald is in solid form (runner-up in Washington, D.C. and beat James Duckworth on Thursday), but it hardly matters what the 57th-ranked American brings to the table if Medvedev is playing well. And to say Medvedev is playing well right would be a gross understatement. The 25-year-old won the U.S. Open while surrendering only one set the entire fortnight and preceded that result with a title in Toronto. Medvedev has enjoyed plenty of rest following the biggest moment of his career, so he looks poised for more success in Indian Wells.

Pick: Medvedev in 2

Alexei Popyrin vs. (8) Hubert Hurkacz

Hurkacz is currently in position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, occupying the No. 8 spot (not counting Rafael Nadal, who is out for the year). The Pole has captured three titles in 2021, including the Miami Masters this spring and another one last month in Metz. Hurkacz is 14-3 on U.S. soil, which is not too surprising since he likes hard courts and has spent a lot of time training in Tampa, Fla. In his only previous Indian Wells appearance, Hurkacz defeated three top-30 opponents before falling to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

Up first for the 24-year-old on Saturday is Popyrin, and they have never faced each other. Popyrin is also wrapping up the best season of his career; he has earned 19 of his 34 ATP-level match victories in 2021 and secured his first title in Singapore. The 71st-ranked Aussie opened in the desert on Thursday with a 6-3, 7-6(4) defeat of Miomir Kecmanovic, which was his first match since reaching round three of the U.S. Open (lost to Dan Evans in fifth-set tiebreaker). Popyrin is not an easy opponent, but Hurkacz will be motivated with Turin on the line and you can’t bet against the world No. 12 on American hard courts.

Pick: Hurkacz in 2

Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in action against Matteo Berrettini of Italy during their Men’s semi final match at the Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament, in Wimbledon, Britain, 09 July 2021. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Other matches

Medvedev over McDonald in 2 – Medvedev leads the head-to-head series 5-0, including 11-0 in total sets. The U.S. Open champion will undoubtedly roll. Giron over Krajinovic in 2 – Giron has a lot going for him in Indian Wells. He is a California native, played his college ball at UCLA, is in the best form of his career by a mile, and beat Botic Van de Zandschulp in a great match on Thursday. Krajinovic, on the other hand, has endured an injury-plagued 2021. Pospisil over Shapovalov in 3 – Shapovalov has been a disaster since Wimbledon and Pospisil already has a win under his belt in Indian Wells. Norrie over Sandgren in 2 – Norrie’s brilliant 2021 season continued with a recent final in San Diego. He will be too consistent for Sandgren. Bautista Agut over Pella in 2 – Bautista Agut has won all three of their previous meetings. Given how bad Pella has been in 2021, you can’t expect anything to be different. Schwartzman over Cressy in 2 – Cressy might have a chance on grass or perhaps a lightning fast indoor hard court, but Schwartzman will get too many balls back in the Indian Wells conditions. Evans over Nishikori in 3 – This is a 50-50 proposition, so I like Evans as a considerable underdog. The Brit is playing well and Nishikori is never reliable from a physical standpoint. Harris over Davidovich Fokina in 2 – Harris has a big advantage in terms of both current form and the surface. A quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open, the South African is 22-10 on hard courts this year. ADF is 4-5 on hards.

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