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Ricky’s Tennis preview and picks for Friday in Indian Wells: Rublev vs. Dimitrov and Fritz vs. Kecmanovic

Andrey Rublev faces Grigor Dimitrov at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

An unexpected quarterfinal lineup in the bottom half of the Indian Wells draw will take the court on Friday. Andrey Rublev, the only top eight seed involved, will go up against Grigor Dimitrov. Taylor Fritz faces Miomir Kecmanovic.

Here are my previews and picks for Friday’s quarterfinal matchups.

(7) Andrey Rublev vs. (33) Grigor Dimitrov

Rublev and Dimitrov will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they battle for a semifinal spot at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. They have split their four previous encounters at two wins apiece and all four have come on hard courts. Rublev took their first meeting 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3 at the 2017 U.S. Open and won their most recent matchup 6-2, 7-5 at the 2019 Beijing tournament. In between, Dimitrov picked up a pair of victories in 2018 (6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the 2018 Australian Open and 6-3, 6-4 in Rotterdam).

Unless his name was Rafael Nadal, Rublev could not be any hotter at the moment. The world No. 7 is on a 12-match winning streak that includes titles in Marseille and Dubai, and so far in Indian Wells he has ousted Dominik Koepfer, Frances Tiafoe, and Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets. Dimitrov also didn’t drop a set en route to the quarters, defeating Jordan Thompson, Alexander Bublik, and John Isner. It has come as a bit of a surprise for the 30-year-old Bulgarian, as he had been just 9-8 lifetime in Indian Wells prior to this event. Rublev is having no trouble hitting through these relatively slow conditions and his offense will likely be too much for Dimitrov’s defensive skills.

Pick: Rublev in 2

Taylor Fritz of the United States in action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

Miomir Kecmanovic vs. (20) Taylor Fritz

Playing at his favorite tournament not too far from his home of Rancho Santa Fe, California, Fritz is once again thriving in the desert. The 24-year-old made a run to the semifinals last fall and he is one win away from making it back to that stage in 2022. A red-hot Fritz started the season in fine form and he has not slowed down with Indian Wells wins over Kamil Majchrzak, Jaume Munar, and Alex de Minaur. The world No. 20 destroyed Majchrzak 6-1, 6-1 and then needed third-set tiebreakers to get past both Munar and de Minaur.

Fritz could not quite capitalize on a favorable draw in 2021 (he lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semis), but he has another opportunity five months later. In a wide-open bottom half of the bracket, the unseeded Kecmanovic is next up. Kecmanovic is through to the last eight thanks to defeats of Liam Broady, Marin Cilic (saved two match points), Botic Van de Zandschulp, and Matteo Berrettini. The 61st-ranked Serb is a stellar ball-striker, but Fritz has a big edge in the serving department and home-court advantage in what is basically his backyard only helps the favorite’s chances.

Pick: Fritz in 2

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