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Ricky’s tennis preview and picks for Tuesday in Indian Wells: Rublev vs. Tiafoe and Schwartzman vs. Isner

No. 7-seeded Andrey Rublev of Russia takes on Frances Tiafoe in Indian Wells, California. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

By Ricky Dimon

A wide-open bottom half of the Indian Wells draw will be in action on Tuesday, when Andrey Rublev takes the court against Frances Tiafoe. Following big wins by Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby, Tiafoe and John Isner will hope to continue an American charge.

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

(7) Andrey Rublev vs. (28) Frances Tiafoe

Rublev and Tiafoe will be going head-to-head for the second time in their career when they collide in round three of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday. Their only previous encounter came at the U.S. Open last summer, when Tiafoe pulled off a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-1 upset.

Four a couple of reasons it is hard to see lightning striking twice. Tiafoe posted a solid 6-4, 6-4 win over Brandon Nakashima on Sunday night, but that was the 30th-ranked American’s first match since the Australian Open after recovering from an injury. He had been just 1-3 for the season. The 2022 campaign has been a much different one for Rublev. In fact, the world No. 7 is on an 11-match winning streak that includes consecutive titles in Marseille and Dubai. Rublev maintained momentum with a 7-5, 6-4 defeat of Dominik Koepfer in his Indian Wells opener and he should keep it rolling with some revenge against Tiafoe.

Pick: Rublev in 2

John Isner faces Diego Schwartzman in a match of one of tennis’ tallest and shortest standouts EPA-EFE/DAVID GUZMAN GONZALEZ

(14) Diego Schwartzman vs. (23) John Isner

Isner is off to a typically slow start to the year, but as usual a return trip to the desert–and a favorable draw–could be just what the doctor ordered. The 23rd-ranked American is 25-12 lifetime at this tournament with one runner-up performance (2012, lost to Roger Federer) and a semifinal run (2014, lost to Novak Djokovic). Isner now finds himself in Djokovic’s wide-open section of the draw and he opened with a straight-set victory over Sam Querrey, who had been on a 10-match losing streak before winning his first-round match.

Up next for the 36-year-old is an extremely favorable matchup with Schwartzman. The height that Isner gets on his serve obviously causes major problems for Schwartzman, and the 5’7” Argentine’s serve can also get punished. Even though Schwartzman returns very well, even he is unlikely to break Isner’s serve at any point–maybe once, at most–and it’s hard to see him holding the entire way in any set since his serve really doesn’t do anything other than get points started. Isner leads the head-to-head series 1-0 and it should be 2-0 by Tuesday night.

Pick: Isner in 2

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