Indian Wells Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays the American No.1 - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays the American No.1

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Rafael Nadal after his third round win on Monday (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

Rafael Nadal is a perfect 17-0 to start 2022.  On Saturday, he narrowly survived a double-break deficit in the final set against American Sebi Korda.  In the fourth round, Rafa will face the literal tallest test American tennis has to offer: Reilly Opelka.

Iga Swiatek has long admired Nadal, and thus far this season, she’s equaled his win tally of 17.  And also like Rafa, she’s completed many comebacks this season.  In three consecutive rounds, the 2020 Roland Garros champion has come back from a set down to prevail.  In the quarterfinals, she also takes on an American: a resurgent Madison Keys.

Wednesday’s schedule is ATP-heavy, as all eight round of 16 singles matches will be contested.  The four WTA quarterfinals will be split between Wednesday and Thursday.  And there are plenty of appetizing doubles matches throughout the day, featuring top names like Coco Gauff, Leylah Fernandez, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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


Rafael Nadal (4) vs. Reilly Opelka (17) – Second on Stadium 1

This is a rematch from last May in Rome, where Nadal prevailed 6-4, 6-4.  That tournament was a significant breakthrough for Opelka: his first appearance in a Masters 1000 semifinal.  At the very next Masters event, he reached the final in Canada.  He’s currently at a career-high ranking of 17th in the world, and would debut inside the top 15 with a win on Wednesday.  In the last round, Reilly came back from a set down to upset Denis Shapovalov, a man he lost to earlier this year in Melbourne.  While he’s not undefeated this year like Nadal, Opelka is now 13-4.  He was the champion last month in Dallas, and the runner-up a week later in Delray Beach.  His booming serve will be more rewarded on this surface than when he played Rafa on clay.  And Nadal’s left foot injury remains a concern.  However, it’s hard not to favor one of the best returners of all-time, especially considering Rafa’s current win streak.


Iga Swiatek (3) vs. Madison Keys (25) – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 1

Just like Nadal and Opelka, their only previous encounter took place last year in Rome.  On that day, Swiatek was victorious in straight sets.  Keys had a pretty dismal 2021 season by her own admission, but has rediscovered the joy in her game this year.  Madison was the champion in Adelaide, then advanced to the fifth Major semifinal of her career in Melbourne.  Swiatek can ill afford to drop the first set for the fourth straight match today.  As per Tennis Abstract, when winning the first set, Keys has claimed 40 of her last 42 matches.  Iga’s streak as an escape artist may come to an end on Wednesday, as a confident Madison on an American hard court can be a tough out.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Jannik Sinner (10) vs. Nick Kyrgios (WC) – Kyrgios has been on fire this past week, losing only 16 games across six sets.  On Monday, he earned his first top 10 win in over two years.  He’s never faced Sinner, who is an excellent 13-2 in 2022.

Simona Halep (24) vs. Petra Martic – Halep has defeated two straight seeds in straight sets (Gauff, Cirstea).  Martic has beaten three consecutive seeds, including US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  They last played in the same round of this same event four years ago, with Simona prevailing 6-3 in the third.

Carlos Alcaraz (19) vs. Gael Monfils (26) – Monfils is coming off a career highlight: dethroning World No.1 Daniil Medvedev on Monday.  Alcaraz is coming off a thorough thrashing of Roberto Bautista Agut by a score of 6-2, 6-0.  This is their first career meeting.

Cam Norrie (12) vs. Jenson Brooksby – Brooksby came back from a set down on Monday to upset Stefanors Tsitsipas, the first top five win of his young career.  Meanwhile, Norrie defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili by nearly the same score as last October’s final between the two men.  This is another first career meeting.

John Isner and Jack Sock (WC) vs. Feliciano Lopez and Stefanos Tsitsipas (WC) – Isner and Sock won this event four years ago, and took out Australian Open champions Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in the last round.  Lopez and Tsitsipas were champions three weeks ago in Acapulco, and are yet to drop a set this fortnight.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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