Indian Wells – Men’s preview

I like this pic

Photo: Google Images

 

After a one-week break for most of top-players, the patriotic duty is over, and now everyone must fight alone for the singles title of the first Masters 1000 of the season. Hosting a top-flight ATP tournament for the 25th time, this year’s edition is much more exciting than ‘10s, in my humble opinion. Ok, what happened back then, all the upsets, Ljubicic’s effort and finally his 1st Masters title after two finals will surely safe a place for the 2010 edition in the history books. But who could call that before play started? Maybe not even Ivan himself.

Well then. My point is, at least before the first chair umpire calls “time”, this Indian Wells tournament is one of the best. Ever. Just take a look at the line-up.

About everybody is there. After having the “Rafa Slam” denied by both an injury and David Ferrer, the world no.1 Rafael Nadal will return to ATP action after making his return last week vs. Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium for the Davis Cup. And we all know Rafa’s never beaten by injuries – he always returns, always stronger – and this time, he has a positive draw – the most dangerous players he could face in early rounds are Baghdatis and Tsonga, in the 4th. With the comfortable lead in the rankings assured until, hmm *thinks* Wimbledon, he plays to join Connors, Chang and Federer as the only players to lift the trophy three times.

Nadal plays to tie, Federer plays to untie. The world no.2 seeks his 4th title at the Californian desert, which would put him above everyone else. But more than this, the man who already won a title this year and reached the final at Dubai will fight to remain as the 2nd best ranked player in the world. His opponent? The only player who beat him this year (and twice!), Novak Djokovic. The Serbian is En Fuego in 2011. In fact, since the end of 2010 – he won his last 14 matches, a personal best, capturing Davis Cup, the Australian Open and the third Dubai title on the way. You might remember who was the last guy to impose Nole a defeat. In case you don’t, was Federer himself, back in the Masters Cup (or the What The Fuck World Tour Finals, as you wish). Sharing the same half of the draw, Nole and Fed – the hottest rivalry of the moment – could play another semifinal – they already played at the US Open (EPIC), Shangai, Tour Finals and the Aussie Open.

Also sharing the same quarter of the draw, Robin Soderling – who won a tour best three titles this year and is yet to lose a non-Slam match – and Andy Murray, who failed (again) to capture his maiden Major and has left the top-4 for the first time in a year (this time for more than a week). Together, the Swede and the Briton combine for two Slam finals, seven titles (of which three are Masters) and a quarterfinal match at the very same Indian Wells in the past 52 weeks. Not overreacting when stating this is the strongest quarter of the draw. Take a look at this: After a bye, Soderling will either way play a German – Berrer or Phau. In the third round, the seed on his way is Philipp Kohlschreiber (amazing how Germans are always drawn in the same part of the draw), ever dangerous player who one day will pull a Melzer and get to a Slam SF (I truly believe this); second section of this draw, 20th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov – The Dog, an entertainer, peculiar strokes and playing style, the only man to beat Sod this year – may play in the third round Ivan Ljubicic, the defending champion, who will debut vs. either the Don Juan from Prague Stepanek or the resurgent, hard-hitting, Slam champ, Del Potro – two sleepers, even though Stepanek already sees the twilight. Lower part of this quarter. Who’s there? Fernando Verdasco, to whom I will not attribute any adjectives since he has many fans. Versus who he debuts? Richard Berankis. Yes, it’s not Raonic, but another youngster anyway. Either Berankis or a qualy – I pick Rykas anyway. Verdasco’s third round? Tobias Kamke, who had a great year at CHs in 2010, but is yet to do something productive at ATP level, Janko Tipsarevic, the Robin Hood of modern tennis or Sam Querrey, who…won four ATP 250 last year. Whoever reaches the 4th round there will be on the way of Tommy Robredo, who came back from the (tennistically) dead (retired) and is seeded again (!!!) or Andy Murray, 2009 finalist, whose titles in 2010 were only Masters. Good enough. Tough enough for you?

And then there’s Roddick. With 1600 points to defend in the next couple of weeks, I’m ready to pull back my comments (re: “Revolutionary push and volley style”) and start rooting as hard as I can for him. What can I do? Never said I was unbiased. But, really, reach the finals again looks nearly impossible, even though Andy Boy looks better since winning Memphis title. In order to win his half of the draw, Roddick will have to defeat (probably) James Blake, John Isner, Melzer/Gasquet and (*SIGH*) Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. So, yeah, I’m like, if he can do it, he can win Wimbledon and the US Open this year. But let’s keep it positive, no?

If you want more reasons to watch: David Ferrer and Nadal may rematch their AO match in the quarterfinals; the biggest challenge for David to get there in normal conditions is Gilles Simon, seed #28; Troicki and Llodra could rematch the 5th rubber of the Davis Cup final in the third round – The Serb must get through a qualy or Bernard Tomic (whose white glasses he wore at the AO in the match vs. Feli makes me hate him a little), and Llodra will have to win his opener vs. either Giraldo or Daniel Gimeno-Traver (really Llodra, please); Benneteau and Feliciano Lopez has drawn each other in the opener – this means one of them will finally win a match this year. Please do it, Jules; Gulbis has a bye, will play Lleyton Hewitt or Yen-Hsun Lu – really, a Gulbis-Hewitt match would be a blast (and I still can’t believe Lu is ranked higher than Hewitt); Kukushkin and Berdych can play again in the 2nd round – Kazakhstan defeated Czech Republic at the Davis Cup, but for this the Kazakh must prevail over Kubot; Raonic and Fish can rematch their Memphis SF – Anyone else excited to see Missile Milos playing for the first time as a well-known player at a big event? Nisihikori can play Federer in the second round – I like Kei, and that’s all.

 

The preview part ends here. You should proceed and keep reading only if you’re a stats freak. Consider yourself warned.

 

#1 (1) – Rafael Nadal

YTD Win/Loss: 9-2, highlighted by Doha semifinal (l. to Davydenko)

Career titles: 43

Career Win-Loss: 481-103

At Indian Wells – last year: Semifinalist – lost do Ivan Ljubicic

Indian Wells appearances and record: 6 (2004, ’06-), with 26-4 record (’07 and ’09 champion)

 

#2 (2) – Roger Federer

YTD Win/Loss: 14-2, with a title at Doha and final at Dubai

Career titles: 67

Career Win-Loss: 757-156

At Indian Wells – last year: 3rd round – lost to Marcos Baghdatis

Indian Wells appearances and record: 10 (2001-), with 29-7 record (‘04/05/06 champion)

 

#3 (3) – Novak Djokovic

YTD Win/Loss: 12-0, with titles at the Australian Open and Dubai

Career titles: 20

Career Win-Loss: 336-105

At Indian Wells – last year: 4th round – lost to Ivan Ljubicic

Indian Wells appearances and record: 5 (2006-), with a 16-4 record (’08 champion, d. Fish)

 

#4 (4) – Robin Soderling

YTD Win/Loss: 18-1, with titles at Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille

Career titles: 9

Career Win-Loss: 290-162

At Indian Wells – last year: Semifinals – lost do Andy Roddick

Indian Wells appearances and record: 6 (2004, ’06-), with a 9-6 record (Best: ’10 semifinal)

 

#5 (5) – Andy Murray

YTD Win/Loss: 6-2, Runner-Up at the Australian Open

Career titles: 16

Career Win-Loss: 273-96

At Indian Wells – last year: Quarterfinal – lost to Robin Soderling

Indian Wells appearances and record: 5 (2006-), with a 15-5 record (Best: ’09 final, lost to Nadal)

 

#8 (8) – Andy Roddick

YTD Win/Loss: 14-2, with a title at Memphis

Career titles: 30

Career Win-Loss: 569-183

At Indian Wells – last year: Runner-up – lost to Ivan Ljubicic

Indian Wells appearances and record: 8 (2003-), with a 25-8 record (Best: ’10 Final)

 

#14 (16) – Ivan Ljubicic

YTD Win/Loss: 7-5, highlighted by Rotterdam semifinal (l. to Tsonga)

Career titles: 10

Career Win-Loss: 408-276

At Indian Wells – last year: Champion – defeated Andy Roddick

Indian Wells appearances and record: 8 (2002, ’04-), with a 20-7 record (2010 champion)

 

Other top-10 seeds:

 

#6 (6) – David Ferrer

YTD Win-Loss: 14-2, with two titles, at Auckland and Acapulco

Career Win-Loss – titles: 367-214 – 11

At Indian Wells: 8 apps (2003-), with a 8-8 record (Best: ’07 Quarterfinals, l. to Djokovic)

Last year: 2nd round – lost to James Blake (out of Bye)

 

#7 (7) – Tomas Berdych

YTD Win-Loss: 14-5, highlighted by SF at Chennai

Career Win-Loss – titles: 276-173 – 5

At Indian Wells: 6 apps (2005-), with a 7-6 record (Best: ’10 Quarterfinals, lost to Nadal)

 

#9 (9) – Fernando Verdasco

YTD Win-Loss: 8-5, Runner-Up at San Jose

Career Win-Loss – titles: 290-200 – 5

At Indian Wells: 7 apps (2004-), with a 8-7 record. (Best: ’09 Quarterfinals, lost to Federer)

Last year: 3rd round – lost to Tomas Berdych

 

#10 (10) – Jurgen Melzer

YTD Win-Loss: 6-4, highlighted by Australian Open 3rd round

Career Win-Loss – titles: 258-226 – 3

At Indian Wells: 7 apps (2004-), with a 5-7 record (Best: ’10 R16, lost to Roddick)

 

Other seeds:

#11 (12) – Nicolas Almagro

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 204-147 (18-3) – 9 (2)

Indian Wells: 3-3 record (Best: ’10 R16)

 

#12 (14) – Stanislas Wawrinka

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 191-138 (14-3) – 3 (1)

Indian Wells: 7-3 record (Best: ’08 Quarterfinals). DNP in ‘10

 

#13 (15) – Mardy Fish

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 240-178 (8-4) – 5

Indian Wells: 13-9 record (’08 Runner-Up). ’10: 2nd Round

 

#15 (17) – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 144-67 (10-4) – 5

Indian Wells: 5-3 record (Best: R16 in ’08 and ’10)

 

#16 (18) – Viktor Troicki

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 108-92 (12-5) – 1

Indian Wells: 6-3 record (Best: R16 in ’10)

 

#17 (20) – Marin Cilic

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 156-98 (12-5) – 5

Indian Wells: 2-3 record (Best: ’09 R32). ’10: 2nd round (out of bye)

 

#18 (21) – Richard Gasquet

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 230-148 (8-5) – 6

Indian Wells: 7-5 record (Best: ‘06/07/08 R16). ’10: R128

 

#19 (22) – Marcos Baghdatis

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 184-115 (6-4) – 4

Indian Wells: 7-4 record (Best: ’06 Quarterfinals). ’10: R16

 

#20 (23) – Alexandr Dolgopolov

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 35-34 (13-6) – 0

Indian Wells: Debuting

 

#21 (24) – Sam Querrey

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 136-11 (3-5) – 6

Indian Wells: 6-5 record (Best: ’09 R32). ’10: R32

 

#22 (25) – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 139-154 (7-6) – 2

Indian Wells: 6-4 record (Best: ’10 R16)

 

#23 (26) – Albert Montañes

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 184-199 (4-5) – 5

Indian Wells: 2-3 record (Best: ’10 R32)

 

#24 (27) – Michael Llodra

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 145-170 (4-4) – 5

Indian Wells: 6-5 record (Best: ’05 R32). ’10: R128

 

#25 (28) – Tommy Robredo

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 410-255 (13-4) – 10 (1)

Indian Wells: 11-9 record (Best: ’10 Quarterfinals)

 

#26 (29) – Thomaz Bellucci

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 68-64 (9-5) – 2

Indian Wells: 2-2 record (Best: ’10 R32)

 

#27 (30) – Juan Monaco

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 192-152 (6-6) – 3

Indian Wells: 3-4 record (Best: ’10 Quarterfinals)

 

#28 (31) – Gilles Simon

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 194-137 (10-6) – 8 (1)

Indian Wells: 4-4 record (Best: ’07 and ’09 R32). ’10: 2nd round (out of bye)

 

#29 (32) – Juan Ignacio Chela

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 301-247 (10-6) – 6

Indian Wells: 11-10 record (Best: ’04 and ’07 Quarterfinals). ’10: R128

 

#30 (33) – John Isner

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 88-71 (4-5) – 1

Indian Wells: 6-3 record (Best: ’09 and ’10 R16).

 

#31 (34) – Ernests Gulbis

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 94-91 (5-5) – 1

Indian Wells: 3-3 record (Best: 08/09/10 R64)

 

#32 (35) – Philipp Kohlschreiber

Career Win-Loss (YTD) – Titles (YTD): 192-164 (7-6) – 2

Indian Wells: 8-5 record (Best: ’09 R16). ’10: R32

 

That’s it!

 

Peter S.

 

About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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