Stan Wawrinka (left) ongratulates Roger Federer after their match Tuesday (Mark J. Terrill)
Stan Wawrinka (left) ongratulates Roger Federer after their match Tuesday (Mark J. Terrill)|Associated Press

Tennis Wednesday: Looking for a Settling Down at Indians Wells

Tuesday was full of upsets

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Boom! Did you hear that? That was the sound of all the upsets that occurred Tuesday at the Indian Wells tennis tournament. In quick succession, the tournament lost the top-seeded Men’s player, Novack Djokovic, and the top two seeds in the Women’s draw, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep.

Whooah! Was that the earth moving? Yes! That was the earthquake that followed the outster of 6th seeded Kei Nishikori and 10th seeded Marin Cilic on the Men’s side, and 7th seeded Kiki Bertens and 9th seeded Arnya Sabalenka on the Women’s side.

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal still remain in the hunt for the Men’s title as the guys play Fourth Round matches. The Men’s draw also features two teens -- Denis Shapovalov and lucky loser Miomir Kecmanovic and 40-year old Ivo Karlovic.

Karolina Pliskova (5), Elina Svitolina (6), and Angie Kerber (8) must be considered as the remaining favorites in the Women’s draw, but there are also two teens left there in the quarters, in Marketa Vondrousova and Bianca Andreescu, as well as Garbine Muguruza and the ageless wonder, resurgent 38-year-old Venus Williams.



Rafa Nadal over Filip Krajinovic
Rafa Nadal simply destroyed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1 Tuesday, and takes on 22-year-old Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic, a lopsided winner over Russian Daniil Medvedev. Nadal has looked invincible so far and I doubt he’ll have much trouble with the upstart Krajinovic.

Roger Federer over Kyle Edmund
Federer has been as dominant as Nadal, and Tuesday he crushed countryman Stan Wawrinka for the 22nd time in 25 matches. He’ll take on Kyle Edmund, the Aussie who took apart Rado Albot in two quick sets. It will be interesting to see how Federer deals with Edmund’s aggressive game, but ultimately the Fed will figure it out and triumph.

Denis Shapovalov over Hubert Hurkacz
Shapovalov showed immense maturity and polish as he dominated the former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic Tuesday, which I found surprising. Hubert Hurkacz’s three-set win over Kei Nishikori was equally surprising, but the 6-foot-5 Pole used his big serve and giant reach to take out the speedy Nishikori. If Shapovalov plays as well as he did Tuesday he’ll roll to victory. But this one is a tricky call, as Hurkacz is hot.

Gael Monfils over Philipp Kohlschreiber
Kohlschreiber played smart, effective tennis and took down the world’s top player, Novack Djokavic, in straight sets in a clinical display of textbook tennis. Kohlschreiber is usually consistently excellent, but rarely dominant. Gael Monfils holds a 13-2 career advantage over the German, and that dominance emanates from the style difference of the two. No great win Tuesday will translate to a change in styles against the athletic Frenchman. Monfils will win.

Dominic Thiem over Ivo Karlovic
Thiem, the 7th seeded Austrian, took out tough Frenchman Gilles Simon and only gave up four games. For the first time this year Thiem has looked like the player who got to the finals of last year’s French Open. He should overcome the giant-serving 6-11 Dr. Ivo, who has served his way into the Fourth Round with tiebreak wins in every match he’s played in the desert. His luck should end in this first encounter between these two players.

Milos Raonic over Jan-Lennard Struff
Struff, the strong German, looked absolutely terrific in Tuesday’s demolition of his countryman, 3rd seeded Sascha Zverev. Struff was solid from the baseline, tough on his serve, and athletic (and sometimes acrobatic) when he came to net. Still, Raonic wins when he serves well, period, as he has done here. If Raonic’s serve wavers, Struff will make him pay and could take this match, but I’d go with the Canadian right now.


Angie Kerber over Venus Williams
I’d be remiss in not mentioning how great Venus Williams has played in this tournament, and she deserves every accolade coming her way. She has found her way into the quarters in a great run that includes wins over Andrea Petkovic, Petra Kvitova, Christina Mchale, and Tuesday over Mona Bartel. She is almost 39 now, but hasn’t looked anything at all like her age in this run. Unfortunately for her, she’ll hit the wall against Angie Kerber, the 31-year-old German. Kerber came through in a match late Tuesday night against the “Warrior Princess”, Aryna Sabalenka, that had more turns than a twisting road in the wilderness. Kerber was up a set and a break, at 2-0 in the second, when she fell apart and let Sabalenka take ten out of the next thirteen games. At that point, up 4-1 in the third, Sabalenka literally disintegrated. Leading 30-15 and serving, six points from victory, the fiery Sabalenka dumped a forehand in the net, double faulted twice, and went on to lose five consecutive games before shaking hands and going off to the showers! A meltdown of epic proportions that I haven’t witnessed in quite some time, that Kerber will take advantage of here. Look to the German to end the run over the ageless Venus.

Garbine Muguruza over Bianca Andreescu
This first encounter between 25-year-old Muguruza and 18-year-old Andreescu looks to be a real battle. If Andreescu, another of a great crop of young Canadians that have emerged onto the world stage, plays as well as she has so far, she can take this match. However Muguruza, a former Wimbledon champion, has her own designs on her mini-comeback from relative mediocrity. Muguruza followed her demolition of Serena Williams with a rough three-set win over the very tough Kiki Bertens, and appears to be back on track towards excellence. This match will provide insight into whether the 6-0 Venezuela native or the upstart young Canadian makes her way to the top of the women’s game.

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