Indian Wells Daily Preview: Nadal, Osaka, Medvedev, Fernandez Headline Saturday’s Play - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Nadal, Osaka, Medvedev, Fernandez Headline Saturday’s Play

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Rafael Nadal practicing on the grounds last Sunday (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

2022 could not have started better for Rafael Nadal.  After five months of inactivity due to foot surgery, Nadal is an undefeated 15-0.  And of course, he made tennis history in Melbourne by becoming the first man to win 21 Major singles titles, surpassing his rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.  He’s now going for his first Indian Wells title since 2013, and starts against a promising young American, Sebastian Korda.

Also in action will be the new World No.1 Daniil Medvedev, as well as 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.  And six months following her thrilling run to the US Open finals, and just a week after a title run in Monterrey, Leylah Fernandez faces another promising young American, Amanda Anisimova.

Other names on Saturday’s compelling schedule include Aryna Sabalenka, Carlos Alcaraz, Denis Shapovalov, and Victoria Azarenka, as well as both defending singles champions: Paula Badosa and Cam Norrie.

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


Rafael Nadal (4) vs. Sebastian Korda – Second on Stadium 1

Two years ago at Roland Garros, Korda made his Major breakthrough, advancing to the fourth round.  That’s where he ran into his idol, as Rafa taught Sebi a harsh lesson in the form of a score line of 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.  And judging by the way Nadal has started this season, he’ll be a considerable favorite again on this day.  However, 18 months after their first meeting, I expect Korda to put up a much bigger fight, and not be as overwhelmed by the occasion.  And playing best-of-three on a hard court, rather than best-of-five on clay, vastly increases his chances against the King of Clay.  The 21-year-old scored a solid straight-set win on Thursday over Thanasi Kokkikakis, his second victory over the Australian in as many months.  But a confident, in-form Nadal should still advance rather comfortably.


Leylah Fernandez vs. Amanda Anisimova – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 2

Last October at this event, Fernandez lost a heartbreaker to Shelby Rogers in a third-set tiebreak.  That was her first three-set loss since prior to her amazing fortnight in New York, where she claimed four consecutive three-setters against stiff competition (Osaka, Kerber, Svitolina, Sabalenka).  Anisimova had a tremendous start to the year, winning a tune-up title in Melbourne, and upsetting both Belinda Bencic and Naomi Osaka at the Australian.  Amanda was playing excellently since she began working with Darren Cahill.  However, he abruptly left her camp just days ago.  As reported by Ben Rothenberg, Cahill informed Anisimova he was burnt out after enduring some long quarantines last year while traveling to Australia, and needs a break from the tour.  A sudden change to a budding yet successful partnership can be rattling.  And considering Fernandez is on a five-match winning streak, I like her chances to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Tomas Machac (Q) – Medvedev has won 11 of his last 13 matches, with his two losses coming at the hands of Nadal.  Machac is a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic who won a Challenger title to start the year.

Carlos Alcaraz (19) vs. Mackie McDonald – Since leaving Indian Wells last October, Alcaraz has gone 18-3, with two titles.  McDonald is a native Californian who recently debuted inside the top 50, and was the champion in Washington last August.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Jack Sock (WC) – Tsitsipas has not won a title since last May, though his 14-5 record this year is pretty solid considering the elbow injury he’s battled of late.  Sock is a former top 10 player who was recently ranked as low as 345th in the world.  Jack reached the semifinals here five years ago.

Veronika Kudermetova (21) vs. Naomi Osaka (WC) – Osaka overcame Sloane Stephens in the opening round.  Kudermetova has already reached two finals this season, receiving walkovers during both of those runs, the first of which was an Osaka withdrawal in a Melbourne tune-up event.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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