10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s Tennis preview and picks for the Indian Wells fourth round, including Nadal vs. Opelka

Rafael Nadal carries a 17-0 record in 2022 into his Indian Wells match vs. American Reilly Opelka. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

By Ricky Dimon

Top seeds have been dropping like flies in the top half of the Indian Wells draw, but a quarterfinal contest between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios is possible. They first have to get past Reilly Opelka and Jannik Sinner, respectively.

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

(4) Rafael Nadal vs. (17) Reilly Opelka

The only previous meeting between Nadal and Opelka has come on clay at the 2021 Rome Masters, where the Spaniard cruised 6-4, 6-4. Does Opelka think he has a better chance on a hard court? The 6’11” American was asked that question following his 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Denis Shapovalov in round three of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday. “Not really,” Opelka quipped.

You can forgive the world No. 17 for not being too confident. After all, Nadal is the best player on tour right now. The 35-year-old is 17-0 this season with three titles–including at the Australian Open–and he raised his level on the heels of a first-round struggle against Sebastian Korda to defeat Dan Evans 7-5, 6-3 on Monday. Conditions are not bad for Opelka in the desert, but the chances of him limiting the length of rallies to the extent that he can pull off an upset or even steal a set are slim.

Pick: Nadal 2

Jannik Sinner takes on explosive Aussie Nick Kyrgios. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Jannik Sinner vs. (WC) Nick Kyrgios

You never know when Kyrgios is suddenly going to be motivated to play tennis and even win tennis matches. From completely out of nowhere, the 26-year-old is doing both this fortnight. Since Wimbledon last summer, Kyrgios had won a grand total of two matches heading into this tournament. He has already won three in Indian Wells. The 132nd-ranked Aussie is though to the round of 16 following straight-set defeats of Sebastian Baez, Federico Delbonis, and Casper Ruud.

Up next for Kyrgios on Wednesday is a first-ever meeting with Sinner. The 20-year-old Italian has advanced with victories over Laslo Djere and Benjamin Bonzi–dropping one set to a red-hot Bonzi in the process. Sinner is an awesome 13-2 in 2022 and has climbed to No. 10 in the world. Kyrgios obviously has the talent to win this one–just as he can against any opponent on any day–but his motivation level could take a dip now that arch rival Ruud is out of the way. The Aussie also didn’t look entirely 100 percent physically despite his strong performance against the Norwegian. Kyrgios’ run will likely come to an end at the hands of an in-form Sinner.

Pick: Sinner in 3

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