Time is nottt on my side tonight and I want to watch some of the WTA first round matches so a very quick preview for the ATP draw. I finally took the plunge and bought tickets for the French Open today! I’m reallyyyy excited, but now I need to get my skates on and book transport and accommodation. A heads up for a new ATP prediction game, which you can now enter. Tennis Challenge by TigerMobiles.com requires you to put in a draw for Indian Wells. It’s free and there are great prizes up for grabs. You can check out the game HERE and join the Moo’s Tennis Blog league HERE.
Novak Djokovic heads up the draw in Indian Wells where he will open the defence of his title against either Marcos Baghdatis or Jiri Vesely. I’ve had to hear all about Vesely these past few weeks as my brother went all in on the Czech player for Racket Rally. Vesely won his first ATP title in Auckland at the start of the year, coming through qualifying and winning eight matches. However, Vesely hasn’t won a match since and is on a five match losing streak… my brother has lost patience! This is a tough draw as Baghdatis has been playing well in 2015. Julien Benneteau, John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Bernard Tomic and David Ferrer are the other seeds in this quarter. Cilic is playing his first tournament of 2015 so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. I’ve bought a load of RR shares in Thanasi Kokkinakis, who could meet Garcia-Lopez in the second round (if he overcomes Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round). This is also the section that Cilic is in so it could be a good opportunity for Thanasi to make a big breakthrough. GGL has played well this year, but he can be vulnerable early on and he lost a lot of matches last year to players ranked outside of the world’s top 100.
The second quarter features Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori. This is a much lighter section compared to the first although there are a few interesting first rounders. Mardy Fish makes his return to the tour and takes on fellow American, Ryan Harrison in the first round. It’s so great to see Mardy back on a tennis court after all the personal struggles he has been through. It really doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses as I think the fact he’s made it back to the tennis court is pretty glorious. Harrison had a great run in Acapulco, beating Grigor Dimitrov en route to the semi-finals. The winner of that match will play Nishikori in the second round. Murray’s eighth features a potential third round between Fabio Fognini and Ernests Gulbis… the likelihood of this happening is slim, but it will be a PEAK watch if it happens. Upsets wise, Gilles Muller could be one to watch. He goes up against Marinko Matosevic in the first round with the winner to play Feliciano Lopez. Muller has been a revelation this year and if he were to meet Lopez, i’d fancy him to come through.
Rafael Nadal has another pretty favourable draw and would be expected to make the quarter-finals, whatever form he is in. The French trio of Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy are all in Nadal’s section with Simon, in my opinion, the most likely to upset the apple cart. Nadal is projected to meet Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals, who heads up a very interesting eighth of the draw. Raonic could meet Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. However, Dimitrov’s form has been questionable this year and his first match of the week could be against Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie player, who has only won one ATP match away from the Grand Slams, opens against Denis Kudla. This will be Kyrgios’s first tournament since the Australian Open, but he’s always going to be one to watch.
The final quarter is headed up by Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Federer’s draw has its pitfalls early on; he will play either Jerzy Janowicz or Diego Schwartzman in the second round and could meet his AO slayer, Andreas Seppi in the third round. However, if he gets through that, his fourth round match will come from one of the weaker sections of the draw with seeds, Roberto Bautista Agut and Leonardo Mayer, the latter who was embroiled in a truly epic Davis Cup match at the weekend. Wawrinka’s eighth is more engaging and could feature a fourth round match against Tomas Berdych. I was really surprised not to see Berdych as a top eight seed and for him to potentially play Stan in the fourth round is pretty brutal. Berdych has played some good tennis this year, but just not fully delivered at the end of tournaments.
My full predictions for the tournament will be posted tomorrow morning in the usual place. The only very mild upset i’ve gone for is Nishikori over Murray in the quarters, but i’d definitely side with the top five all going deeeep.
Final prediction: Djokovic d. Federer