From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells

It is showtime in the Californian desert and there is plenty at stake for the best players on the ATP Tour.

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Roger Federer (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

The 44th edition of the BNP Paribas Open provides an opportunity for the usual protagonists to continue their dominance on the men’s tour. With defending champion Juan Martin del Potro sidelined by injury, players will be battling it out for 1000 ranking points as well as $1,340,860 in prize money for the winner.

 

Here are five things to follow in the men’s draw this year.

Federer’s fight to stay in the top five

The day after winning his 100th title at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Roger Federer flew straight out to the Californian desert for his next challenge. The 37-year-old re-entered the top five this week, but faces a tough task in the coming weeks holding that position.

Seven out of the top 10 players on the ATP Tour are defending 45 or less points, however, for 2018 runner-up Federer he is defending 600 points. Meaning an early loss in the tournament will open the door for the likes of Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson to overtake him. To prevent this happening, the Swiss player needs to reach at least the quarter-finals this year to have a chance of staying in the top five.

This year is Federer’s 18th appearance in the Indian Wells main draw. A five-time champion, he has won 62 out of 74 matches played (84% winning rate). The last time he failed to reach the quarter-final stage was back in 2010.

How did the current top 10 fair in Indian Wells last year?

Ranking
Player
Age
2018 result
1 Novak Djokovic 31 Round two
2 Rafael Nadal 32 Withdrew
3 Alexander Zverev 21  Round two
4 Roger Federer 37 runner-up
5 Juan Martin del Potro 30 Champion
6 Kevin Anderson 32 Quarter-finals
7 Kei Nishikori 29 Withdrew
8 Dominic Thiem 25 Round Three (retired)
9 John Isner 33 Round two
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20 Round two

Can anybody defeat Djokovic?

Novak Djokovic will return to action for the first time since winning the Australian Open in January. The world No.1 is the only player in history to win every Masters 1000 tournament at least once. Since his resurgence on the tour last summer, Djokovic has won five titles (three grand slams and two Masters).

During that time Djokovic has looked unbeatable during certain tournaments, but has also suffered defeats. Losing to Karen Khachanov in Paris last year, followed by Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals. His only defeat so far in 2019 was to Roberto Bautista Agut in Qatar. Despite those losses, Djokovic remains the huge favourite heading into the event. He also has a prime opportunity to strengthen his number one ranking with only 10 points to defend from last year.

Should the Serbian prevail, he would tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 for most Masters 1000 titles won in the Open Era. Djokovic would also claim a record sixth Indian Wells title.

The Next Gen challenge

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As the first Greek player in history to break into the ATP top 10 this week, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas will be hoping for a strong run. Defending only 25 points, the Australian Open semi-finalist made his debut in Indian Wells last year. Going out in the second round to Dominic Thiem. Tsitsipas will be seeded ninth in the draw.

Alexander Zverev is the only member of the Next Gen contingent to win multiple Masters 1000 titles. Furthermore, two out of those three trophies have occurred in North America. The German recently settled for runner-up at the Mexican Open to Nick Kyrgios. Zverev’s record at Indian Wells is far from spectacular after winning just four matches between 2016-2018. It is only of one two Masters events where he is yet to reach the quarter-finals.

Other next Gen players to look out for include Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. 18-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, who is the youngest player in the top 100, has received a wildcard into the main draw.

Next gen players in the top 100 (ranked by age)

Ranking
Player
Age
58 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18
25 Denis Shapovalov 19
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20
24 Alex de Minaur 20
66 Ugo Humbert 20
94 Casper Ruud 20
3 Alexander Zverev 21
35 Frances Tiafoe 21
46 Taylor Fritz 21
59 Reilly Opelka 21
61 Jaume Munar 21

Will Nadal maintain his strong record?

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It has been six years since Rafael Nadal last triumph in Indian Wells. Overall, he has won 50 matches in the tournament to date since making his debut back in 2003. To put that into perspective, Indian Wells if his third most successful Masters event in terms of wins after Monte Carlo (68) and Rome (56).

The 11-time French Open champion is seeking to reach his second final of the tour in 2019. His current win-loss record the season stands at 7-2. He has won at least one ATP title every year since 2004.

“I know that the season is long. My first priority, more than winning titles or not, is to be happy. To be happy, I need to be healthy. I’m going to do the things that give me a better chance to be healthy more than anything. That’s the priority. If I am healthy, I am competitive, I am happy, I have the chance to win tournaments.” Nadal told reporters following the Australian Open final.

So far in his career, Nadal has achieved nine wins over top 10 players in Indian Wells.

Will Nick Kyrgios exceed or implode?

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After a stellar performance last week, some are regarding the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios as a threat to the draw. The Australian defeated three top 10 players on route to winning Acapulco. His first ATP title since January 2018.

“It’s hopefully an example for people who are struggling and getting in some places you don’t think you can get out of. If I can do it, you can do it,” Kyrgios said following his triumph. “I was really down and out and didn’t know what I was going to do, but you have a week like this and things can change.”

Consistency has been an Achilles heel for the 23-year-old in recent months. Besides being hampered by numerous injury issues, Kyrgios has been criticised throughout his career for his controversial attitude on the court. The most recent being from Nadal, who said he lacks ‘respect.’ Something that was heavily disputed by Kyrgios himself.

“I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things,” Kyrgios admits.

A player that likes the big stages of the sport, it remains to see how Kyrgios will fair. It was at the 2017 edition of Indian Wells where he stunned both Zverev and Djokovic on route to the quarter-finals. Kyrgios missed last year’s tournament due to injury.

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Alexander Zverev Insists Tennis Is In Good Hands After Generational Breakthrough In Shanghai

Alexander Zverev has praised his fellow next generation stars ahead of a bright future for tennis.

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Alexander Zverev (@atptour - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev has insisted that Tennis’ future looks good after a generational breakthrough in Shanghai. 

 

Last week saw a breakthrough in the next generation as all four semi-finalists in Shanghai were under the age of 24 years old.

It was the youngest semi-final line-up at a Masters 1000 for 12 years as both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic fell at the quarter-final stage.

Speaking after his loss to 23 year-old Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev thinks that Tennis’ future looks good without the ‘big three’, “The difference now this year than the last few years was I was the only young guy kind of up there,” Zverev admitted in his press conference in Shanghai.

“Now I see the other young guys. I see maybe still difference in, you know, how we act on court, how we behave on court, compared to the older guys. So before I didn’t pay attention to it because I was kind of the only one and the rest of it was fine.

“So I hope we, as young guys, we kind of understand that, we learn that, and, you know, then I think tennis will be just as interesting as it is now. And, you know, the Roger Federer fans or Rafa Nadal fans will fall in love with new players.

“I’m not saying it has to be me. I’m not saying it has to be anyone in particular. It may be a new superstar that we don’t even know about. But if we kind of learn the good things about those guys, I think this sport of tennis will be in very good hands.”

With the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime challenging Zverev at the top of the next generation pack, we are now in for an exciting next few years ahead at the top of the men’s game.

The next challenge though will be to see if they can translate this potential on the grand slam stage and beat Djokovic, Federer and Nadal when it really matters.

As for Zverev he looks to finish the season strong and book his place at the ATP World Tour Finals, where he won the title last year.

 

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beats Lorenzo Sonego to advance to the second round in Antwerp

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga broke once in each set in his 6-3 6-4 win in his 6-3 6-4 win over Lorenzo Sonego after 1 hour and 20 minutes improving his win-loss record over the Italian player to 2-0.

 

Tsonga got the first break at 15 in the fourth game and never looked back to win the opening set 6-3 after 31 minutes.

Sonego earned his only break in the fourth game of the second set, but Tsonga saved it before earning the decisive break. The Frenchman held on his service games to take the second set 6-4.

Tsonga will face either Gilles Simon or Steve Darcis in the second round.

Guido Pella fought back from one set down to beat Peter Gojowczyk 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-2) setting up a second round match against either Richard Gasquet or Soonwoon Kwon from South Korean Soonwoo Kwon.

Tipsarevic beats Moutet in Stockolm

 Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic broke serve four times in his 6-2 6-4 win over Corentin Moutet in 73 minutes. Tipsarevic, who will retire at the end of the season, will take on top seed Fabio Fognini. Tipsarevic went up a 3-0 lead with a double break. Moutet pulled back a break in the fourth game, but Tipsarevic broke for the third game to clinch the first set 6-2. Tipsarevic converted his third break point chance in the seventh game and held his final two service games to win the second set 6-4.

Great Britain’s Daniel Evans battled past Bernard Tomic 6-4 1-6 6-3 setting up a second round match against either Casper Ruud or Filip Krajinovic.

Italy’s Stefano Travaglia stunned US giant Reilly Opelka 7-5 4-6 6-4 securing his spot in the second round, where he will face either Yuichi Sugita from Japan or Elias Yimer from Sweden. Opelka had to save a break point in the first game with five aces. Both players went on serve until the 11th game when Travaglia got the break before serving out for the set at love. Travaglia saved a break point at 4-5 15-40 but Opelka converted his second chance to seal the second set 6-4. Travaglia got the decisive break in the ninth game and sealed the win on his first match point.

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Andreas Seppi fends off two match points to beat Christian Garin in Moscow

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Italian veteran Andreas Seppi came back from one set down to beat Chile’s Christian Garin 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) in 2 hours and 45 minutes at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

 

Garin broke serve twice in the second and ninth games to win the opening set 6-3.  Seppi converted his second break point chance in the first game of the second set, but he wasted two break points at 5-4 and dropped his serve. Seppi saved two match points in the 12th game at 5-6 15-40 in the second set before winning the tie-break 7-2.

Garin broke serve in the fifth game to open up a 4-2 lead. Seppi broke straight back to draw level to 4-4, but he did not convert four match points at 6-5. Seppi won five of the final six points in the tie-break of the third set to close out the match.

Czech qualifier Lukas Rosol fended off two match points to beat Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-3. Rosol came back from 4-6 in the tie-break of the second set by winning five of the next six points. The Czech player broke serve in the eighth game to win the third set 6-3.

Adrian Mannarino edged past Damir Dzumhur 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 to improve his record in their head-to-head matches to 3-1. Dzumhur got the first break of the match in the opening game. Mannarino broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Dzumhur broke serve for the second time to take a 4-3 lead. Mannarino pulled the break back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5 before winning the tie-break 7-2. The Frenchman cruised through to a 6-0 win in the third set with three consecutive breaks.

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