ATP Indian Wells: BNP Paribas Open Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The first master’s event of the year is here with the dual men’s and women’s event in Indian Wells, California. All the top players plan to participate and the field is as strong as it can get.
ATP Indian Wells
BNP Paribas Open
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Indian Wells, California
March 7-March 17, 2013
Prize Money: $ 4,330,625
Indian Wells stayed in the news during the winter and spring because of a debate over a proposed prize money increase, which was eventually approved by the ATP for a single year.
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Roger Federer
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Rafael Nadal
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Juan Martin Del Potro
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The top 8 seeds are the ATP rankings top 8, and all of the seeds are part of the ATP rankings top 32. All 32 seeds get 1stround byes.
First round matchups to watch:
Pablo Andujar vs. (wc) Steve Johnson
Andujar is coming off playing the golden swing clay events and is an abysmal 2-7 on the year. That being said, he is ranked 80+ spots ahead of Johnson in the rankings and thus, regardless of his form, a victory here would be a success for the rising American with a career high ranking just outside the top 130. Johnson made the quarters in San Jose and qualified in Australia but has been mostly average this year and he could use a good run to jump start his year. Look for him to get the upset.
Ryan Harrison vs. Go Soeda
Speaking of slumping players, we have Ryan Harrison, still ranked in the top 100, but having lost 3 straight matches to 3 very average players. He has a similar opponent this time, the steady but bland Soeda who has also only won 1 match in his last 4 tries. These 2 met once last year and Harrison won, but Harrison will be dealing with home pressure at a big event and is playing very poorly right now. Soeda could continue Harrison’s downturn.
Viktor Troicki vs David Goffin
This match will be a rematch of their 5 set Davis Cup rubber battle last month on clay. Troicki won it, but has struggled since, while Goffin is also having an abysmal year. This match could go either way and both these guys badly need a win to get some confidence.
Jarkko Nieminen vs Igor Sijsling
The veteran Fin met the up and coming Dutchman twice last year and they split victories. They both have solid games and Sijsling seems to be at the cusp of a breakthrough and hopefully fully recovered from shoulder issues. Nieminen last played indoors in Montpellier and will be adjusting, but also will be well rested, while Sijsling had an early retirement in Delray. This match is a tossup with an edge towards sizzling Igor.
(Q) Daniel Brands vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Brands is back in the top 75 and has had a great year thus far, most recently making the quarters as a qualifier in Dubai he will try to continue his success as a qualifier against Baghdatis who has been a bit up and down and may be vulnerable to an upset.
The dominant Novak Djokovic will face Fabio Fognini or Aljaz Bedene and then could face Grigor Dimitrov in the 3rd round if Dimitrov can beat Matt Ebden or Andrey Kuznetsov. In the round of 16 he could draw a seemingly struggling Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, qualifier Ivo Karlovic, Marinko Matosevic (who opens with Tommy Robredo) or perhaps least likely of all a struggling Juan Monaco, who is still seeded 14th. Novak should cruise to the quarters.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play Robin Haase or James Blake and then could perhaps face Mardy Fish, who hasn’t played since the US Open and will finally be making his comeback to the tour at Indian Wells. Fish actually gets an opening round bye and will face Benjamin Becker or Bobby Reynolds to open. His form is precarious for sure, though. Tsonga could get Milos Raonic next if Raonic can beat Michael Llodra or Daniel Munoz De La Nava (who qualified after a strong showing in Delray), and then Marin Cilic, or the Albert Ramos/Horacio Zeballos winner.
Andy Murray, who has always struggled at Indian Wells and took extra time off to get rested for this event and Miami afterwards will play Evgeny Donskoy or Tatsuma Ito and then could face Martin Klizan or Tim Smyczek if Smyczek can beat Yen-Hsun Lu. His first real test should be against Kei Nishikori in round 4 if Kei can beat either qualifier Dmitry Tursunov or qualifier Phillip Petzschener and then either a early year rematch with Alex Dogopolov or Santiago Giraldo/Carlos Berlocq. Dolgo is struggling and may not make it that far.
Juan Martin Del Potro, the Dubai semifinalist, will play Nikolay Davydenko or Paul Henri Mathieu before getting a chance to revenge his upset loss in Australia to Jeremy Chardy (if Chardy can get past the Alejandro Falla/Bjorn Phau winner). Del Potro could meet Tommy Haas or Nicolas Almagro if Almagro can best Lukas Lacko/Daniel Gimeno Traver and Haas beats the Johnson/Andujar winner.
An off form Roger Federer could run into early trouble in the 3rd round, where after beating a dangerous-in-his-own-right Denis Istomin or qualifier Vasek Pospisil he could meet Julian Benneteau (who just beat him in Rotterdam). Benneteau will need to beat Ivan Dodig or Guido Pella to advance that far, though.
Assuming Fed gets through that, he could get another chance to whip up on his countryman Stan Wawrinka if Wawrinka bests Roberto Bautista-Agut/Wayne Odesnik then likely a slumping John Isner. Isner can’t seem to beat anyone of quality these days. Big John will face the Lukas Rosol/Lleyton Hewitt winner in round 2.
An ice cold Janko Tipsarevic will play Delray finalist and qualifier Ernests Gulbis or Memphis finalist Feliciano Lopez. The winner would face the Brands/Baghdatis winner or Andreas Seppi. This is all setting up of course for Rafael Nadal, in his first hard court tournament back (excluding the exhibition he played in New York). Nadal will play the Soeda/Harrison winner and then Leo Mayer/Xaiver Malisse or Mikhail Youzhny in what is actually a smooth start for the Spaniard.
David Ferrer will face Kevin Anderson or Victor Hanescu. Anderson could possibly upset him but it isn’t likely. The winner will face the Sijsling/Nieminen winner or Fernando Verdasco, who has been in iffy form himself. Gilles Simon will play Gilles Muller or Paolo Lorenzi and then Lukasz Kubot/Benoit Paire or Phillip Kohlschreiber, who has not played a match since the Davis Cup ties.
Richard Gasquet gets Thomaz Bellucci or Bernard Tomic, both in up and down form, but could still be a serious test for Gasquet. The winner likely faces Jerzy Janowicz, if Jano can beat Marcel Granollers/David Nalbandian.
Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych will face qualifier Mischa Zverev or a struggling Jurgen Melzer before getting an even easier draw with his 3rdround opponent, being one the slumping trio of Troicki/Goffin or Florian Mayer.
Dark Horses: Marinko Matosevic, Gilles Simon, Daniel Brands
Matosevic is a hot and cold player who can have spots of good tennis and then fall off the radar. He will be hoping to hit a hot spot in Indian Wells and he has the draw to do it with clay courters Robredo and Monaco, neither of whom are playing very well, and a struggling Querrey who he just beat in Memphis or the still inexperienced Sock. R16 is reasonable for him.
Simon is 11-5 on the year and has actually been playing well. He should benefit from the slow courts at Indian Wells given his style as a pusher and if he can beat Muller, Paire/Kohlschreiber/Kubot and then a possibly miffed Ferrer or even Nieminen/Sijsling he would be well on his way, again benefiting from facing struggling or surface adjusting players. I could see him in the quarters.
Brands plays well on hard courts and is bombing the ball right now. Baghdatis is an inconsistent player and Seppi is just so-so on hard courts. Tipsarevic can’t seem to win a match right now. He may not even survive Gulbis if Gulbis isn’t too tired from his whirlwind match play. Still, a tired Gulbis sets up well for Brands, and Lopez can be inconsistent too. I could see Brandswagon running into Nadal.
Djokovic d. Matosevic
Tsonga d. Raonic
Murray d. Nishikori
Del Potro d. Haas
Berdych d. Gasquet
Simon d. Ferrer
Nadal d. Brands
Federer d. Wawrinka
Djokovic should roll, Tsonga will have a miniscule edge over Raonic, Murray should be tested by Nishikori and that match may go the distance. Del Potro has too much for Haas, Berdy vs Reeshy should be close, Simon should upset Ferrer, Nadal should survive Brands and Federer should assail Stan again.
Djokovic d. Tsonga
Murray d. Del Potro
Berdych d. Simon
Federer d. Nadal
Djoker is unstoppable right now. Del Potro could again challenge Murray, but I’ll give the edge to AM. Berdy should beat Simon again and Federer should win over a still adjusting Nadal in their first meeting before the semifinals of a tournament since 2004.
Djokovic d. Murray
Berdych d. Federer
Djokovic is yet again unstoppable, as Murray couldn’t beat him in Melbourne, either. Berdych just beat Federer in Dubai and has every reason to do so again. He showed some fortitude in that match and I trust him enough to beat a lacking Federer.
Djokovic d. Berdych
A Dubai rematch. The result should be the same. Novak is dominating the game right now.