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Ricky’s picks for Day 6 in Indian Wells, including Humbert vs. Paul

Something’s gotta give on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open, because both Ugo Humbert and Tommy Paul are in awesome form and they have to face each other in the third round. Casper Ruud and Arthur Fils are also part of a loaded schedule.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(17) Tommy Paul vs. (14) Ugo Humbert

This is a third-round battle that many would say is worthy of a Masters 1000 quarterfinal. Alas, either Paul or Humbert will be ousted prior to the last 16. Monday marks their third meeting (second on the main tour), with both of their previous encounters going to Paul; he prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 at the 2018 Champaign Challenger and 6-1, 7-6(4) at the 2023 Cincinnati Masters.

Paul will again enjoy home-court advantage in the USA, where he continues to play some of his best tennis. The 17th-ranked American captured the Dallas title in February and one week later finished runner-up in Delray Beach (lost to Taylor Fritz). Paul kicked off his fortnight in Tennis Paradise by defeating countryman Alex Michelsen in easy straight sets. Also red hot, Humbert improved to 14-3 this year with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over wild card Patrick Kypson. The Frenchman is playing great and up to No. 14 in the world, but he would rather play this particular opponent on an indoor hard court or grass. Conditions in the desert slightly favor Paul, plus he will take confidence from his two previous defeats of Humbert.

Pick: Paul in 3

(9) Casper Ruud vs. Arthur Fils

Ruud has reached the final of two straight events–and given that the IW conditions are favorable for him, a third consecutive title match is a possibility. The world No. 9 finished runner-up in both Los Cabos and Acapulco and his 14th win of the year on hard courts–which came at the expense of Lukas Klein via a 6-4, 7-6(4) decision on Saturday–already matched his entire total from last season.

Fils, who took their only previous meeting 6-0, 6-4 last summer on clay in Hamburg, is next up for the Norwegian. However, the current Ruud looks like the Ruud of 2022–not the Ruud of 2023–and Fils has not yet made significant strides since last summer. The 19-year-old Frenchman did well to beat Nuno Borges and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina earlier this fortnight, but Ruud is a step up in competition.

Pick: Ruud in 2

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