Todd’s Tennis Takes – 2014 BNP Paribas Indian Wells PreviewTuesday, March 4, 2014 21:06
Preview of the 2014 BNP Paribas Indian Wells Men’s Tennis Tournament.
2014 BNP Paribas
There’s finally been some turnover and new blood rising at the top of the men’s game, with Aussie Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka now ranked #3 and Grigor Dimitrov rising to #16 behind a QF appearance Down Under and a title in Acapulco, the 2nd career title for the 22 yr old Bulgarian. Even Fed seems revived with a new larger racquet face, beating Murray in Australia to make the semis there and then last week beating Djokovic and Berdych back-to-back to take the title in Dubai, the 78th of his career and first since Halle last year – his only title in 2013.
But two things remain the same on the ATP Tour – poor results for Americans, and no new young names in the top 60. John Isner (13th) is the only USA man in the top 50 as Sam Querrey remains down at #57, and unless you’re a real close follower of the ATP, you’ll never guess who’s the #3 American – Bradley Klahn at #64. As for youngsters from any country, Dimitrov is the only Top 60 guy under the age of 23, while going down to #100 only yields three more players under 23. Just going by the Law of Averages, we are due for a young, prodigious talent to emerge in the next few years, as it’s been almost 10 years now since Nadal/Djokovic/Murray emerged in 2004-05.
Nadal…Federer…Djokovic…Wawrinka…Berdych – Any of these guys could take the title, as Nadal (2013), Fed (2012), and Djoker (2011) represent the last three winners at Indian Wells. Fed’s won it 4 times already (2004-06, ’12); Nadal 3 times (2007, ’09, ’13), and Djoker twice (2008, ’11). The only guy to take the title here besides those three in the last 10 years? Ivan Ljubicic in 2010…stump your friends with that one.
Djoker’s hot streak to close 2013 is a distant memory after falling to Wawrinka in 5 sets Down Under and then blowing a 1 set lead over Fed in the dubai semis, falling 6-2 in the 3rd. Boris Becker hasn’t paid much in the way of dividens so far after being added to the Serbian’s coaching entourage a couple months ago.
But the Fedberg (Fed & 6-time 80′s/90′s slam champ Stefan Edberg) combination along with a bigger racquet face (98 sq. cm from 90) has paid off nicely for Roger, and a title in the desert would only further state his case to remain a viable slam title contender at age 32 after already beating Murray, Djoker, Berd Dog, and Tsonga this year…though Nadal was rather dominant in a straight set win in the Aussie SFs.
Nadal made the finals in Australia before succumbing to a ‘tweak’ in his back and amazing play from Stan the Man in the final. But he recovered to take the title in Rio last month over Dolgopolov, and is 16-1 on the year with two titles already.
Wawrinka has only played one Davis Cup match since his maiden slam title in January, choosing not to play Buenos Aries or Acapulco, both of which he played last year. As for Berdych, he lost in the Aussie semis to Wawrinka, won Rotterdam by beating Janowicz, Gulbis, and Cilic, and then beat Tsonga and Kohlschreiber on his way to the runner-up trophy in Dubai.
Murray…Tsonga…Dimitrov…Ferrer – Any of these guys could be a semifinalist, but a title would be quite a surprise.
Murray finally made the QFs here in 2013 after going 0-2 in 2011 & ’12, but already has 4 losses this year, and hasn’t beaten anyone in the Top 20 yet, losing to Fed, Dimitrov, Cilic, and Florian Mayer this year. After missing all Fall last year with back surgery, his return to the tour has been muted, and hard to get a read on how close to 100% he may be or not be.
Dimitrov on the other hand is red hot and looking to break into the Top 10 at the pace he’s on. He’s 11-3, losing to Cilic in an Aussie tuneup, Nadal at the Aussie, and then resurgent, finally-tapping-his-potential Gulbis at Rotterdam (a loss he avenged 2 weeks later in the Acapulco semis). Nice to see the much-hyped Bulgarian threatening the big boys…let’s hope he keeps it up.
Tsonga is 10th in the ATP rankings this year but he’s beaten no one of note yet in 2014 as Gilles Simon in the 3rd round of the Aussie is his highest ranked scalp, Simon #19 at the time. Losses to Fed & Berdych are joined by losses to Gulbis in the finals of Marseille and Cilic at Rotterdam.
Ferrer remains at #4 in the rankings but he too hasn’t claimed any scalps of note yet in 2014 outside of Almagro & Fognini (in finals) on his way to his 3rd straight title at Buenos Aries last month. Berd Dog had no troubles beating him in the Aussie QFs, while a resurgent Dolgopolov took him down in the semis at Rio. Other poor losses include Doha (Brands, 2nd Round), Auckland (Lu, semis), and Acapulco (Kevin Anderson, QFs, retired w/ leg injury). He also had a disappointing Indian Wells a year ago, losing again to the tall South African Anderson in round 2.
Tricky Outs For The Big Boys
Del Potro — DP made the final last year here, losing to Rafa in 3 sets, but has been bothered by a bad wrist so far in 2014, losing in the 2nd round Down Under to Bautista Agut, then Rotterdam QFs to Gulbis, and finally retiring in the first round at Dubai with the injury. He missed the 2010 season with a bad wrist already, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him pull out of this event.
Ernests Gulbis — It’s taken a while, but professionalism and maturity have come to Gulbis, who hit a career-best #18 last week before falling to 22nd this week. He won Marseille after beating Gasquet & Tsonga in the semis and final, though he did have a poor Aussie, losing in straight sets to Querrey in the 2nd round. He gave Nadal a heck of a battle here a year ago, losing 7-5 in the 4th round, after qualifying to get in (was ranked 109th last year when they set the qualifying field).
Gasquet — Ranked #9 now, but having a very ho-hum 2014 so far, with only one win over a Top 25 opponent – beating Jerzy Janowicz in the semis of Montpellier before losing 4 and 4 to Monfils in the final. Lost in the 4th round here a year ago for the 4th time in his career…best result was 2011 when he lost to Djoker in the QFs.
Gael Monfils — The hyperathletic Frenchman was ranked 106th last year at this time, was injured, and missed the tournament. Since then, he’s made 5 finals, taking two titles, and has boosted his ranking to #25. This will be the first Indian Wells he’s played since 2010, and he has yet to make the round of 16.
Other Threats to Make Round of 16
Alexandr Dolgopolov — Was in the 50′s a few weeks ago, then made the final at Rio (l. to Nadal), SF at Acapulco (l. to K. Anderson) to boopst himself to #31. Was #13 in Jan 2012, still just 25 yrs old. One of the 3 or 4 most entertaining players on the tour – very unique, athletic game.
Marin Cilic — Was ranked #12 here a year ago…was then suspended for a few months, saw his rank fall to #47, and is now back to #26 and rising. Won Zagreb, Delray Beach this year, finalist at Rotterdam. Has never made Round of 16 here.
Kevin Anderson — At a career-best #18 right now, and a finalist this year twice on hard courts – Delray, and Acapulco.
Kei Nishikori — The speedster from Japan won Memphis over a weak field (Karlovic in final) and gave Nadal a decent match in the 4th round at the Aussie, losing 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(3). Now ranked #21.
Jerzy Janowicz — Has done practically nothing since making the Wimby semis last year, but has the size, power, athleticism, and touch to do damage anywhere. Ranked #20.
This is a repost from Speedburner on Sports – Todd’s Tennis Takes.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.