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ATP Tennis • Medvedev Marches on, but Rublev and Opelka Crash Out on Day of Upsets in Indian Wells

Daniil Medvedev of Russia reacts during his Men’s Singles Round of 32 match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 October 2021. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO.

By Ricky Dimon

The machine that is Daniil Medvedev marched into round four of the BNP Paribas Open with ease, but it was an otherwise eventful Monday in the desert.

Four of the eight third-round matchups in the top half of the men’s singles draw saw the seeded player or higher-seeded player lose. Andrey Rublev was upset by Tommy Paul, Denis Shapovalov went down to Aslan Karatsev, Reilly Opelka lost to Grigor Dimitrov, and Roberto Bautista Agut came out on the short end of a three-setter against Cameron Norrie.

Rublev’s loss was the most surprising. The fifth-ranked Russian is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals behind Medvedev, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev, but on a rare occasion in 2021 he did not look like one of the best players in the world on Monday. Even with one of the biggest forehands on tour, Rublev struggled to hit through the slow conditions and Paul prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

The 60th-ranked American failed to serve out the match at 5-3 in the third set, but he eventually built a 0-40 lead on his opponent’s serve in the 12th game and converted his second match point.

“I’m not thinking too much,” Paul said when asked about his mentality after getting broken. “I was pretty happy to be out there, so it wasn’t like the end of the world getting broken there. I had match point and obviously I wanted to win the match there. But I felt comfortable throughout the match.

“I knew that I would have chances either to break back or [win] in the ‘breaker, even if I just raised the level of my serve a little bit. I would have had a lot of chances to win that ‘breaker.”

Surprisingly, there were also no tiebreakers necessary in the Opelka-Dimitrov match. Perhaps even more impressive than not facing a break point the entire way, Dimitrov managed to break the 6’11” American once in each set. That was enough for the 30-year-old Bulgarian to cruise 6-3, 6-4 in just one hour and 13 minutes.

Although Opelka’s stay in the desert was short, he still had time to make headlines. The No. 16 seed blasted tennis media prior to his opening match in Indian Wells.

“These guys are awful,” he raged. “There are bad journalists. You have some people who are just criticizing, who are always negative, people who don’t know anything about tennis. I honestly think we have the worst press of any sport.

“There are good journalists, but none of them have been able to interview me or be in my press conferences. I reach the final in Toronto and these people ask me what is the problem with American tennis, why are there no American players in the top 30. The same thing happened to me in Rome. I am 23 years old and I am facing [Rafael Nadal in the Rome semis]. I think things are going well. I reached the final in Toronto and we are going to talk about how the Americans don’t win Grand Slams?”

Barring a miracle by Paul or Taylor Fritz, there won’t be any American men winning Indian Wells either.

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