TENNIS ATP INDIAN WELLS – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray, experienced David Ferrer and an array of younger stars Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov will assemble in the Californian desert for the first of the nine Master 1000 Tournaments at Indian Wells. Last year’s US Open champion. Diego Sampaolo
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have won the Indian Wells Master 1000 Tournament a combined 10 times in the past 11 editions of the Californian Tournament. They are the top-4 seeds at Indian Wells for the first time since 2012. However, the Indian Wells will not be a three-men show, as there will be plenty of interesting stories like the come-back from injury of 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic and a lot of intriguing match-ups in the early rounds.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic will be bidding to defend his title won last year when he beat Roger Federer in an exciting three-set final. Djokovic won the Indian Wells tournament three times in 2008, 2011 and 2014. He started his season with his fifth Australian Open title but lost the Dubai final against Federer. Djokovic will be looking to win his 50th career title.
Djokovic will face a tough first round clash against either Marcos Baghdatis or Jiri Vesely before a possible second-round match-up against Julien Benneteau The Serbian super-star was drawn in the top-half and is in collision course with in-form David Ferrer for a potential quarter final. Ferrer made a good start to his season winning three titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro and Acapulco but lost his last seven head-to-head matches against Nole. The World Number 1 player will first have to beat John Isner in the third round in a re-match of last year’s Indian Wells semifinal. Isner may first clash against Kevin Anderson in the third round.
Ferrer could clash against Australian Bernard Tomic in a potential third-round match. The winner of this match could take on Marin Cilic who will start his season after being forced to withdraw from the Australian Open and the first two months of the year because of a shoulder injury. Cilic has never advanced the fourth round stage at Indian Wells. After his first triumph at the US Open Cilic won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow but he was knocked out in the first round in Shanghai and lost all his three matches at last year’s ATP World Tour Finals.
Djokovic could clash against Andy Murray in the semifinals, if the Scotsman overcomes a very tough quarter final against Kei Nishikori, who recently finished runner-up in Acapulco. Nishikori could face off either Acapulco semifinalist Ryan Harrison or Mardy Fish, who makes his comeback to the ATP Tour for his first tournament since Winston Salem in 2013 after a long absence to heart issues.
Murray reached the final at the Australian Open but he lost in the quarter final in Rotterdam and Dubai (where he lost to Croatian rising star Borna Coric). Last weekend The Dunblane two-time Grand Slam champion led Great Britain to a Davis Cup 3-2 win over the USA in Glasgow thanks to his two singles match wins against John Isner and Donald Young. Murray could meet either Rio de Janeiro’s finalist Fabio Fognini or Ernests Gulbis.
Murray finished runner-up at Indian Wells in 2009 but has never won this tournament.
One of the most intriguing early-round match-up could be played between last year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov and 2015 quarter finalist Nick Kyrgios in the second round. The winner of this match could square off against Milos Raonic in the fourth round. These players are on collision course with 2013 Indian Wells champion Rafa Nadal who lost in the third round last year in this tournament.
Rafa will start against either Sijsling or a qualifier in the second round before possibly facing Pablo Carreno Busta, Donald Young or Jeremy Chardy. Nadal, who won his first tournament of the year in Buenos Aires on his favourite clay surface, could meet Frenchman Gilles Simon in the fourth round.
Raonic could clash against Simone Bolelli for the third time this year. The Italian won their last match in Marseille last month.
Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal are on collision course for a blockbuster semifinal in the bottom half of the draw. It could be the 34th match-up between the two popular stars of the circuit. Federer could clash against 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in a projected all-Swiss quarter final. First Wawrinka will have to overcome a possible fourth-round clash against Tomas Berdych in a re-match of this year’s Rotterdam final.
Federer will not face a easy task in the early rounds as he is projected to meet Jerzy Janowicz in the second round and Andreas Seppi in the third round in a re-match of this year’s Australian Open third round won by the Italian player. Before the possible Swiss derby Federer could play against Roberto Bautista Agut.
In the build-up to Indian Wells Grigor Dimitrov beat Roger Federer 6-2 1-6 7-5 in an exhibition match at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Both players offered a great show especially in the third set when they entertained the crowd with a series of spectacular rallies. Dimitrov fought back from a set down in the third set. Federer held serve to draw level to 5-all in the third set but Dimitrov, who had not won a single set in his career against the Swiss legend, got the decisive break to clinch the win.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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