ATP Indian Wells, Quarter-Finals Preview: Gulbis-Isner, Djokovic-Benneteau

For British tennis fans, it is worth noting you can buy pre-sale tickets for the World Tour Finals at the O2.  Also, tickets for the AEGON International at Eastbourne go on sale on Friday the 14th of March from 9am.  If you’re a tennis buff and have never been to Eastbourne, I would highly recommend it! I’m planning to go again for a couple of days this year.  Anyway back to this funky men’s draw in Indian Wells where we look to be heading to a Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic final; however the way this tournament has gone, expect the unexpected…

1. Ernests Gulbis v John Isner (ATP IW, QF)

Sailing silently through the draw, the lone hope for the home crowds is John Isner.  It has been a very solid week for the American with victories over Yen-Hsun Lu and Fernando Verdasco.  Isner has been struggling with injuries this year, but reaching the last eight doesn’t come as a major surprise considering he reached the final of Indian Wells in 2012.  His quarter-final opponent, Ernests Gulbis has been firmly in the spotlight with a series of lively performances.  He edged past Grigor Dimitrov, 2-6 6-1 7-5 in the best of the third round match-ups.  It was another great match between the pair that featured a few hot shots and another racquet smash from Ernie.  In the 4th round, Gulbis had his issues with Roberto Bautista-Agut, but overcame cramp (and another racquet smash) to prevail in three sets.  Gulbis leads the head-to-head by two wins to one, but Isner won their last match in Valencia at the end of 2013 in two tiebreak sets.  Gulbis has been serving huge this week and although he may be a bit tired, he’s my tip in this one.

Dimitrov lost to Gulbis in the third round, but this was special

Prediction: Gulbis d. Isner in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Julien Benneteau (ATP IW, QF)

An in-form, Marin Cilic looked to be a dangerous opponent for Novak Djokovic.  That was certainly the case at the start of their fourth round match as Cilic absolutely powered his way through the first set, 6-1.  However, Djokovic settled and came through the second and third sets comfortably to progress with a 1-6 6-2 6-3 win.  Djokovic, who has Marian Vajda back in his camp this week, now takes on Julien Benneteau, the lowest ranked quarter-finalist.  This has been a surprising result for Benneteau considering he had won just 3 matches on the ATP tour this year.  He beat fellow French slumper, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.  Benneteau is a good player although his best results are normally on a faster court.  Djokovic has looked vulnerable this week, dropping sets in his last two matches.  Djokovic is still the heavy favourite and should come through with relative ease.

Prediction: Djokovic d. Benneteau in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

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