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Ricky’s Tennis Picks and preview for Monday in Indian Wells| BNP • Rafa Nadal vs. Dan Evans and Ruud vs. Kyrgios

Rafael Nadal takes on Dan Evans at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 12 March 2022. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal is already on his second life in Indian Wells and he will try to keep going when he faces Dan Evas during third-round action on Monday. Meanwhile, a spicy matchup features Casper Ruud and Nick Kyrgios.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best third-round matchups.

(4) Rafael Nadal vs. (27) Dan Evans

Nadal has been no stranger to major comebacks throughout his career–and already in the early stages of 2022. The 35-year-old Spaniard famously won the Australian Open final from two sets down against Daniil Medvedev. Nadal was never down by a set on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open, but he trailed Sebastian Korda by a double-break at 5-2 in the third only to storm back for a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(3) victory. The 21-time Grand Slam champion is now 55-10 lifetime in the desert with three titles.

Up next for Nadal on Monday afternoon is a third career contest against Evans. Both of their previous meetings have gone Nadal’s way; 7-6(6), 6-4 at the 2019 Rogers Cup and 6-4, 6-0 later that season in the Davis Cup Finals. Evans is in decent enough form at the moment and coming off a 6-2, 6-0 destruction of Federico Coria, but the matchup with Nadal is an especially terrible one. Evans doesn’t have the firepower to hurt Nadal and his one-handed backhand slice struggles to be effective. This should be a much more straightforward affair for Indian Wells’ No. 4 seed than what transpired on Saturday,

Pick: Nadal 2

Nick Kyrgios of Australia in action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 10 March 2022. The tennis tournament runs from 07-20 March 2022. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

(WC) Nick Kyrgios vs. (8) Casper Ruud

There will be no love lost between Ruud and Kyrgios when they collide for the second time. Their only previous encounter ended in a default, as Kyrgios incurred multiple code violations for various eruptions and was given the boot while trailing 6-3, 6-7(5), 2-1 at the 2019 Rome Masters. The volatile Australian had nothing but disparaging remarks for Ruud both after that match and in the years since, mainly accusing the Norwegian of being a useless player on any surface other than clay.

That may have been partly true for a while, but Ruud’s rise into the top 10 has included plenty of success on hard courts. What is true, however, is that the world No. 8 is at his best on the red stuff and would most definitely prefer to face Kyrgios on that surface. In these particular conditions, it is not a good matchup for Ruud. Even more problematic for him is that Kyrgios looks motivated–and a motivated Kyrgios is a scary Kyrgios. So far this fortnight the 26-year-old has destroyed both Sebastian Baez (6-4, 6-0) and Federico Delbonis (6-2, 6-2). Unless Kyrgios’ mood suddenly takes a turn for the worse, he is capable of blowing Ruud off the court.

Pick: Kyrgios in 2

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.