The bottom half of the men’s draw was cut up into mulch on Sunday. Juan Martin del Potro withdrew due to the wrist injury and then Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon were all knocked out of the tournament. Berdych’s loss to Roberta Bautista-Agut was particularly surprising based on his excellent start to the year. Bautista-Agut though, has had some excellent results so far in 2014. The bottom half may have taken some blows, but still hosts the best of the men’s third round matches…
1. Ernests Gulbis v Grigor Dimitrov (ATP IW, R3)
Ernests Gulbis and Grigor Dimitrov will play each other for the third time in a month. To be honest, it is a bit of a shame because they are in terrific form and both players could have done some damage in this draw. The winner will fancy their chances of reaching the quarter-finals and deeper. Both came through their first matches in the desert without any problems. Dimitrov beat Robin Haase, 6-4 6-3 in 70 minutes, meanwhile Gulbis lost one less game in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Joao Sousa. Rather impressively, Gulbis was 100% on first serve points won and didn’t face any break points.
The pair split their two matches this year; Gulbis won in Rotterdam, 6-4 7-6(3) and then Dimitrov turned the tables in Acapulco, hanging on for a 4-6 7-6(2) 7-5. Having watched the end of their match in Acapulco, Gulbis appeared to be controlling much of the play, but tired towards the end of the match under Dimitrov’s impressive defence. After a brutal schedule having reached the semi-finals in Rotterdam and won in Marseille, Gulbis did marvellously well to prolong the match as long as he did. Dimitrov went on to win the tournament in Acapulco, which felt like a gamechanger and no doubt will have given him a great deal of confidence; however I believe a rested Gulbis will edge this one. My fingers are crossed they will avoid each other in Miami.
Classic racquet smash! (Highlights via The Fan Child)
Prediction: Gulbis d. Dimitrov in 3 sets
ATP 3rd Round Indian Wells Predictions
Richard Gasquet d. Fernando Verdasco in2 tight sets
Yen-Hsun Lu d. John Isner in 3 sets
Roberto Bautista-Agut d. Jarkko Nieminen in 2 sets
Feliciano Lopez d. Mikhail Kukushkin in 3 sets
Dominic Thiem d. Julien Benneteau in 3 sets
Marin Cilic d. Tommy Robredo in 2 sets
Novak Djokovic d. Alejandro Gonzalez in 2 sets