Djokovic, Federer, Nadal all in action
Men’s Third Round
As we enter the second week of the Indian Wells tournament, most of the Men’s matches are between players who have been playing on the Tour for some time and who have accumulated history with their opponents. Since individual matchups mean so much in tennis, it is instructive to see how each player responds to particular pairings, and that’s what I’m going to do today in order to preview these important matches.
Third round losers receive $48,775, but just making the Round of 16 ensures each player a payday of at least $91,205. Round of 16 winners are guaranteed $182,000, so these matches are especially important to younger players trying to make a name for themselves and to pad their bank accounts. In addition, a win in the third round ensures an ATP Tour player 90 ranking points, which can enable players to jump as many as 20 spots in the rankings, which means so much in terms of assuring direct entry into other big tournaments.
Novak Djokovic over Philipp Kohlschreiber
Kohlschreiber took out the enigmatic Nick Kyrgios in the second round with ease, as Kyrgios choose that match to take a bit of a siesta, as he does seemingly every other week. But Djokovic holds an 8-1 career record over the tough German, and this is not a good matchup for him. Expect Djokovic to move on.
Gael Monfils over Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Monfils is happy and it shows on the court. The 32-year-old Frenchman is like a kid again and competing with vigor. He holds a career 2-0 record over Ramos-Vinolas, and I doubt the Spaniard will be able to overcome the athletic Monfils.
Dominic Thiem over Gilles Simon
The 25-year old Thiem overcame the tough Aussie Jordan Thompson in straight sets in Round 2, and considering that Thompson makes few mistakes, it was a good win. The 7th seed holds an 8-2 record against the aging Frenchman, and it’s unlikely that Simon will change the momentum already established between the two. I’m going with Thiem here.
Sascha Zverev over Jan-Lennard Struff
Struff destroyed the very tough John Millman 1 and 3 before taking out Ricardas Berankis to set up this third round showdown with the 3rd seed. Sascha has barely had to work, having received a bye and then only having to win a set against Martin Klizan before the Slovakian retired. Neither situation matters, as Zverev is 4-0 against Struff, and that’s all that matters.
Milos Raonic over Marcos Giron
Since Giron may still be considered a rookie on the upper levels of the Tour, these two have never met before. Giron, a former NCAA champion out of UCLA has surprised here by taking out first Jeremy Chardy 7-6, 7-6, and then surviving a rough match with the very tough Alex de Minaur 6-2 in the third. But playing Raonic presents an entirely different dynamic, as the Canadian serves bomb after bomb, and hits big forehands. Raonic is too polished and powerful for Giron at this point, and the 13th seed will move on.
Marin Cilic over Denis Shapovalov
Shapovalov, the 19-year-old Canadian, is an exciting shotmaker and is growing into a fan favorite all over the globe. He has only played Cilic once, and he went down to the former U.S. Open champion last year in Basel in straight sets. Although the teenager is making great progress, I don’t think he is experienced enough to take out the 6’6” Cilic . . . yet.
Rado Albot over Kyle Edmund
Edmund, the 24-year-old South African, is a very dangerous opponent because he attacks and puts balls away. He has beaten Albot the three times they’ve played, and I would normally pick Edmund here, based on their head-to-head records. But Albot, at 29, is playing the best tennis of his life, and just a couple of weeks ago won the event in Delray Beach. I’m going against the grain and picking the first player from Moldova, a country with only 3 million residents, to ever have won an ATP tournament to win this match.
Roger Federer over Stan Wawrinka
These two Swiss Grand Slam champions have played 24 times with Federer coming away with 21 victories. All three times Wawrinka won the match was played on clay. Here, although the courts are gritty, they are concrete. Enough said. Federer will take win 22.
Rafa Nadal over Diego Schwartzman
Rafa beats everyone, and Schwartzman is no different. Rafa has won all six of their previous matches, three of them in straight sets and three of them in three. Interestingly, the two times they’ve played on hard courts Schwartzman has been able to compete and has taken both of those matches to the third set. That may happen here, but either way, the No. 2 ranked Spaniard will roll.