ATP Indian Wells: Preview and Predictions

The first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year in Indian Wells promises to be a fantastic tournament.  This will be Stanislas Wawrinka’s first appearance on the ATP tour since winning his first Grand Slam and he is joined by familiar faces with Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer all competing in the desert.  David Ferrer has pulled out of the tournament after picking up a leg injury in Acapulco.  Note that the 32 seeds all have byes into the second round and will begin their campaigns on Saturday and Sunday.  Please do vote in the poll below for who you think will win Indian Wells!

FIRST QUARTER: R.Nadal (1) v A.Murray (5)


Rafael Nadal

The world number one, Rafael Nadal will open his tournament in Indian Wells against Radek Stepanek or Denis Istomin.  The Spaniard appears to be fully recovered from the back injury he picked up in the Australian Open final after he won the inaugural tournament in Rio two weeks ago.  It was at Indian Wells in 2013 when Nadal made a blistering and rather unlikely run to the title.  In 2014, expectations will be a great deal higher.  Nadal has a tough draw that will significantly ramp up in quality throughout the fortnight.  His first test is likely to come in the third round where is projected to meet Alexandr Dolgopolov.  Nadal beat Dolgopolov two weeks ago in the Rio final, overcoming some late resistance from the Ukranian to post a 6-3 7-6(3) victory.  It is worth noting that Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini could meet in the third round, which has the potential to be a tremendous watch for a multitude of reasons.

The return from the back surgery has not been a straightforward one for Andy Murray.  Acapulco demonstrated he’s still some way off his physical and mental peak; however playing four matches, three of which went the distance, can only help Murray’s cause to reach his best form once again.  There is a fair argument that he hasn’t been anywhere near his best since that beastly warm day in London.  Motivation-wise, it must have been a tall order to move on from Wimbledon, but with the clay court season approaching, there’s plenty up for grabs for Murray.

Murray’s draw is reasonable up to the quarters.  He will play Lukas Rosol or a qualifier in his first match before a potential rematch with Pablo Andujar in the third round, who he defeated in Acapulco in three sets last week.  The most exciting proposition from this section is a potential third round tie between Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz.  Both have been affected by injuries.  Raonic has only played three ATP matches this year all coming at the Australian Open. Janowicz looks more tuned in now after struggling in Melbourne as he reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

1st Round Predictions: Istomin to beat Stepanek in 3 sets, Smyczek to beat Sock in 3 sets, Stakhovsky to beat Kubot in 2 sets, Roger-Vasselin to beat Becker in 2 sets and Sijsling to beat Vesely in 3 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Nadal v Murray

SECOND QUARTER: S.Wawrinka (3) v R.Federer (7)


Roger Federer

Australian Open champion, Stanislas Wawrinka (this still hasn’t sunk in) has not played any competitive tennis since the Davis Cup, which was over a month ago.  It is a while since we have seen a new Grand Slam champion on the men’s side, but it has been a recognised trait that the first time winners on the women’s side in recent years have struggled in their return to the tour.  Wawrinka’s response, mentally will be fascinating and for many reasons, I have very few expectations for him in the desert.  His first match will be against Ivo Karlovic or Alex Bogomolov Jr.  Karlovic has been in very solid form through February after reaching the final of Memphis and in my opinion, will have enough game to send Stanley quickly onto Miami.  Memphis and Acapulco runner-up, Kevin Anderson is positioned in a neat section of the draw. The one player who could threaten him is Lleyton Hewitt, who often hits a hot streak of form at the big events without any due warning.

Roger Federer comes into Indian Wells in his best form for well over a year and as a legitimate title contender.  Federer came from a set down to beat both Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych en route to winning Dubai.  This time last year, he laboured to a quarter-final loss at the hands of Rafael Nadal, playing down an obvious and worrying back injury that would go on to affect him through large chunks of 2013.  Federer will open his campaign against a qualifier and the first seed he could meet is Dmitry Tursunov.  The other seeds in this section are Kei Nishikori and Tommy Haas.  Both have suffered frequent injuries, but Nishikori hasn’t played for a couple of weeks since winning Memphis and is always a reliable player when fully fit.  Haas deserves great respect for generally being a legend, but his heavy schedule over the last month has been baffling.

1st Round Predictions: Karlovic to beat Bogomolov Jr. in 2 tight sets, Hewitt to beat Ebden in 2 sets, Russell to beat Young in 3 sets and Chardy to beat Williams in 2 tight sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Anderson v Federer

THIRD QUARTER: R.Gasquet (8) v T.Berdych (4)


Richard Gasquet

David Ferrer‘s withdrawal from Indian Wells has allowed Richard Gasquet to creep into a top eight slot.  Gasquet broke significant mental barriers at last year’s US Open in making the semi-finals, but has made a rather uninspiring start to the year.  Gasquet’s section is winnable, but the likes of Fernando Verdasco, John Isner and Philipp Kohlschreiber can all be potent threats on their day.  Kohlschreiber has a game that everyone enjoys watching, but he lacks the mentality to fully realise his immense talent.  He is set to meet Isner in the third round, which would be an interesting match based on their head-to-head record, which has seen all six of their previous encounters go the distance.  Isner won their most recent match-up in Auckland, but Kohlschreiber should have the greater chances to make significant inroads in this tournament.

The first two months of the season have been positive for Tomas Berdych.  After completing a sweep of Grand Slam semi-finals at the Australian Open, Berdych finally won his first title since 2012 in Rotterdam.  It has been a consistent start to the year, but if he is to be held within the same regard as the likes of Nadal and Djokovic, he needs big performances at these types of tournaments.  Berdych’s section is dominated by the possibility of another match-up between two of the ATP’s most in-form players, Ernests Gulbis and Grigor Dimitrov.  The pair, who have both cracked the top 20 in the last month, have split recent matches in Rotterdam (Gulbis 6-4 7-6) and Acapulco (Dimitrov 4-6 7-6 7-5).  After watching the conclusion of their most recent match in Acapulco, a more rested Gulbis would be the favourite if they played again.  Gulbis and Dimitrov are both playing great right now, but Berdych has been rock solid this year and will be a heavy favourite to make the quarter-finals.

1st Round Predictions: Mahut to beat Gabashvili in 3 sets, Lu to beat Kamke in 2 tight sets, Davydenko to beat Przysiezny in 2 sets, Brands to beat Nieminen in 3 sets and Johnson to beat Bautista-Agut in 3 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Kohlschreiber v Berdych

FOURTH QUARTER: J.M.del Potro (6) v N.Djokovic (2)

Just two tournaments into his 2014 season, Novak Djokovic has suffered two surprising losses in 2014 at the hands of Stanislas Wawrinka (Australian Open, QF) and Roger Federer (Dubai, SF).  It is far too early to speculate about Djokovic’s form although his start has been surprising because he finished 2013 in such sensational form.  Djokovic will play Victor Hanescu or a qualifier in his first match and the first seed he could play is Ivan Dodig.  Djokovic’s biggest test before the quarter-finals could come in the form of Marin Cilic in the 4th round.  The Croatian world number 26 has rediscovered his pre-drugs ban form, winning two titles in Zagreb and Memphis through February.  He looks stronger than ever and ready to continue his assault on cracking the world’s top ten.

Discovering that Juan Martin del Potro had pulled out of his match with the dodgy wrist in Dubai last week was gutting to say the least.  It is rather baffling to see him still in the Indian Wells draw after all his injury woes so far this year.  There have been reports that he is still weighing up his participation in this tournament.  If he takes to the court, his first match will be against either Feliciano Lopez or Dudi Sela.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is projected to meet DelPo in the 4th round, has laboured in the big matches this year.  In this section of the draw, Tsonga has good chances to reach the quarter-finals.  He could face off with Gilles Simon again in the third round, having beaten his fellow countryman in straight sets at the Australian Open.

1st Round Predictions: Lopez to beat Sela in 2 tight sets, Matosevic to beat Klahn in 2 sets and Mannarino to beat Gonzalez in 3 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Tsonga v Djokovic

Who will win? Moo’s Analysis

I really hope we get to see a Nadal-Murray quarter-final.  The one wish I have from this draw is Nadal v Murray! Federer’s form and being paired with Wawrinka in the quarters is a pretty good draw, but the Australian Open showed that he will always struggle against a solid Rafa, who he would meet in the semi-finals.  In the bottom half, Djokovic remains a question mark and particularly, his inability this year to raise his level in the two big matches he has played.  He’s in the easier half, but this could be a great chance for Berdych to prove himself.  Ultimately, I think Nadal is back to full fitness and despite a testing draw, it’s one that should give him a chance to build his form over the week.  I am not convinced that Djokovic is slumping and believe he will make the final two, where Rafa will cement his status at the world’s best.

Moo’s Final Prediction: Nadal d. Djokovic

2 thoughts on “ATP Indian Wells: Preview and Predictions

  1. Pingback: Apuesta Tenis – Indian Wells-> Stepanek vs Istomin | Blog de Apuestas - Apuestas deportivas

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