Indian Wells Daily Preview: Can Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez Continue Their Thrilling Runs? - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Can Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez Continue Their Thrilling Runs?

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Andy Murray on Sunday in Indian Wells (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

On Sunday, Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez energized the crowds with enthralling three-set victories.  Murray overcame Carlos Alcaraz in the afternoon, and Fernandez outlasted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the evening.  On Tuesday, Andy faces Olympic gold medalist Sascha Zverev, while Leylah takes on American Shelby Rogers, who has dropped only eight games across her last five sets.

Tuesday will be a busy day in tennis paradise.  It will see the bottom half of the men’s singles draw complete third round action, while the entire women’s draw will contest their fourth round matches.  And thankfully, the rainy and windy conditions of Monday evening will not continue, as the forecast calls for clear skies and cool temperatures.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Leylah Fernandez (23) vs. Shelby Rogers – Second on Stadium 1

Fernandez has continued to create magic just as she did in New York.  After a straight-forward victory over Alize Cornet, she came back from a set down against tenth-seeded Pavlyuchenkova to prevail 6-4 in the third.  But as aforementioned, Shelby Rogers has been dominating the competition this fortnight.  She also had a great run at the US Open, upsetting World No.1 Ash Barty in a third set tiebreak.  However, she was derailed in the next round by the event’s other breakout teenager, Emma Raducanu.  The eventual champion thumped Rogers 6-2, 6-1.  These two played last summer in Lexington as the tour restarted, when both were ranked outside the top 100.  On that day, Shelby won in straight sets.  The American crowds have fallen in love with Leylah’s infectious energy and competitive spirit, though they’ll be less likely to cheer for her so ferociously against an American.  And based on Shelby’s current form, I like her chances of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Andy Murray (WC) – Third on Stadium 1

Murray has oddly been the player asked more than anyone about the domestic abuse allegations against Zverev, and has been outspoken in recommending the sport be more proactive in addressing them.  Last year at the Western & Southern Open, Murray claimed what was likely his biggest win since 2017, when he took out Zverev 7-5 in the third.  Andy also won their other previous matchup, at the 2016 Australian Open, when Zverev was ranked only 83rd in the world.  Murray has looked more like his old self at this event than he has in some time, but he must be physically drained coming off an over three-hour encounter in the heat of the afternoon against Carlos Alcaraz.  Zverev also played a three-setter on Sunday, though he needed less than two hours to dispatch Jenson Brooksby.  Andy would love to defeat a top name and reestablish himself as a true title contender, especially after coming so close to upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.  But having won 18 of his last 19 hard court matches, Zverev is a significant favorite to reach the round of 16 at Indian Wells for only the second time in his career.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Elina Svitolina (4) vs. Jessica Pegula (19) – Svitolina narrowly escaped the last round, defeating Sorana Cirstea in a third set tiebreak.  Pegula is yet to drop a set.  These players split two meetings early this year.

Matteo Berrettini (5) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – Their only prior meeting was two years ago in the revamped Davis Cup, when Fritz won in three sets.

Iga Swiatek (2) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (24) – This match features two recent and surprising French Open champions.  Swiatek has only allowed opponents five games through two matches thus far.

Pablo Carreno Busta (12) vs. Karen Khachanov (24) – It’s a battle between the Olympic silver and bronze medalists.  In that event’s semifinals, Khachanov won in straight sets, though they are 3-3 lifetime, with their other five matchups all coming at Masters 1000 tournaments.

Barbora Krejcikova (3) vs. Paula Badosa (21) – Krejcokova’s incredible run continues, as she’s 31-3 since late-May.  Badosa eliminated Coco Gauff on Monday evening, and defeated Krejcikova back in April in Madrid.

Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2) vs. Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff – On Monday, Hsieh and Mertens avenged a painful Roland Garros loss to Mattek-Sands and Swiatek.  Gauff and Fernandez have not lost a set through two matches in their first event as a team.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) vs. Fabio Fognini (25) – Tsitsipas is 2-0 against Fognini, and neither match has been close.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Masters 1000 Event In Madrid

Novak Djokovic will miss the Masters 1000 event in Madrid and will look to build up his Roland Garros preparations in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Masters 1000 event in Madrid as he aims for quality over quantity in his bid for Roland Garros glory.

The world number one has had a rough start to the season by his standards as he is yet to win a title this season after a semi-final defeat to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was hoping a change of surface would bring a change of fortunes but the Serb was defeated in three sets in the semi-finals of Monte-Carlo.

Now it seems that result has made Djokovic rethink his schedule as the current Roland Garros champion has withdrawn from Madrid.

No official reason has been given although the news seems to be not that surprising given Djokovic’s history in the Spanish capital.

The Serb hasn’t played since 2022, where he was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, and has now won the title there for five years.

It looks like Djokovic will be putting his faith into more favourable conditions in Rome, which is the most similar to Roland Garros in terms of conditions.

Djokovic is a six-time champion in the Italian capital and will aim for a seventh title when he plays there on the 8th of May.

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Thanasi Kokkinakis Questions ‘Insane’ Drug Testing

Thanasi Kokkinakis has been tested three times within the last six days.

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Thanasi Kokkinakis has questioned persistent drug testing after he revealed he was tested three times in six days.

The Australian is in good form at the moment having won the Sarasota Challenger in Florida.

Kokkinakis claimed glory with a three set win over Zizou Bergs in the final as he continues to climb the rankings.

However that glory has been overshadowed by the fact that Kokkinakis has revealed he was drug tested three times within a six day period.

The world number 94 described it as ‘insane’ and it comes after Alexandre Muller complained of persistent drug testing after his recent defeats.

Doping has been a huge topic of conversations with Simona Halep losing two years of her career after testing positive after the US Open before the Court Of Arbitration For Sport shortened her case.

Kokkinakis will be hoping that this is the last time he has to deal with persistent drug testing as he continues his clay court season.

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