This week, I made a few slightly risky predictions and they have not paid off at all! On Saturday, Stanislas Wawrinka made a fine start to his Indian Wells campaign with a 6-3 7-5 victory over a dangerous opponent in Ivo Karlovic. I thought he may struggle in his first action on the ATP tour since winning the Australian Open, but he looked sharp and in a good place with his tennis. It is also worth noting that Wawrinka is playing with Roger Federer in an insane doubles draw that features many of the top singles players. The pair will play Ernests Gulbis and Milos Raonic in the second round.
1. Gael Monfils v Fabio Fognini (ATP IW, R3)
Two of the most vibrant personalities on the ATP tour, Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini will go head-to-head in the 3rd round on Monday. For Monfils’s high standards of flair and pizzazz, he has been relatively low-key in 2014. The upside though is that he has been winning matches that he is expected to win and comfortably. Perhaps 2014 will be the year he finally starts to deliver his talent consistently. The same cannot be said for Fognini, who managed to create some Fabio-like drama on Sunday in a three set victory over Ryan Harrison. The guy is so hilarious to watch, but his lack of any professionalism narks me. An incident occurred where Fognini challenged a shot of his that was called out, which turned out to be in. He should have won the point, but the umpire wrongly called against him. I can understand Fognini being annoyed, but what he did next crossed a line. Watch below!
Video by The Fan Child and originally seen from an article by Tennis Now, which can be read HERE
The head-to-head between Monfils and Fognini is finely poised at 2-2. They played twice on clay last year and Fognini won both matches, the most recent in Umag in a third set tiebreak. Fognini has been playing pretty well this year with some good results on the clay in South America with a title in Chile and a run to the final in Buenos Aires. However he remains a complete headcase on the court and you never quite know what you’re going to get from him. If this match doesn’t provide at least one talking point or moment of hilarity then something is wrong with the world. Monfils for the win.
Prediction: Monfils d. Fognini in 3 sets
2. Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov (ATP IW, R3)
There were a few scares for the seeds on Saturday and the most surprising of those was Rafael Nadal. The world number one was pushed deep into a third set, eventually sealing a hard fought win over Radek Stepanek, 2-6 6-4 7-5. It was not a vintage performance from Rafa, but I always think that coming through these tough matches playing below-par is really beneficial for progress through the remainder of the tournament. For sure, Nadal will need to step up his game against Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round. Now coached by the equally funky, Fabrice Santoro, Dolgopolov has gone on a nice run of consistent form with a final appearance in Rio and a semi-final showing in Acapulco. In Rio, Dolgopolov gave Nadal a good match in the final before eventually falling in two tight sets. He’s a great player to watch and if he became relevant, it would be a real asset to the tour. Beating Nadal is a stretch, but the Ukranian has enough game in his locker to at least give the crowd a good match.
Prediction: Nadal d. Dolgopolov in 2 tight sets
ATP Indian Wells 3rd Round Predictions
Milos Raonic d. Alejandro Falla in 3 sets
Andy Murray d. Jiri Vesely in 2 sets
Stanislas Wawrinka d. Andreas Seppi in 2 sets
Kevin Anderson d. Evgeny Donskoy in 2 sets
Kei Nishikori d. Tommy Haas in 2 sets
Roger Federer d. Dmitry Tursunov in 2 sets