Indian Wells Daily Preview: Second Round Play Sees Top Seeds Play Their Opening Matches - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Second Round Play Sees Top Seeds Play Their Opening Matches

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Jessica Pegula practicing this week at Indian Wells (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

With the 32 seeded players in each singles draw receiving first round byes, Friday is the first day where seeds see action, as the second round begins.

No ATP player is hotter than Daniil Medvedev, who arrives on a 14-match winning streak.  He faces American Brandon Nakashima in the second round.  Medvedev’s close friend, Andrey Rublev, takes on fast-rising Czech Jiri Lehecka.  Other ATP action on Friday includes two of the top three seeds: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

On the WTA side, American No.1 Jessica Pegula caps off the night session against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.  Other matches feature newly-crowned Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, American No.2 Coco Gauff, and a red-hot Barbora Krejcikova.

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


Andrey Rublev (6) vs. Jiri Lehecka – Last on Stadium 3

Rublev was the runner-up to Medvedev just last week in Dubai, yet is a modest 9-6 to start the year.  He was a semifinalist here a year ago, losing to eventual champion Taylor Fritz.

Lehecka is a 21-year-old who started the season ranked 81st in the world, yet has already broken through to the top 50 with 14 match wins.  He was a surprise quarterfinalist at the Australian Open, where he defeated three seeded players (Coric, Norrie, Auger-Aliassime).  And he followed that up with a semifinal run in Doha, where he defeated Rublev in the quarters.

That Doha quarterfinal saw Jiri prevail 6-3 in the third.  Their only other previous encounter occurred last season on clay in Belgrade, where Andrey won 6-2 in the third.  Lehecka has a big game and serve, and in their Doha matchup, Rublev was only able to break him once.  Jiri’s results this year, and his recent victory over Andrey, will give him plenty of confidence.  I favor Lehecka to earn another victory over Rublev on Friday.


Camila Giorgi vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:00pm on Stadium 1

Pegula is 13-4 in 2023, and continues to perform extremely consistently, having reached the quarters or better at every tournament she’s entered.  However, she is a modest 4-4 at Indian Wells.

Giorgi remains quite a streaky player, but is coming off a title run just two weeks ago in Merida.  She defeated Arantxa Rus in straight sets on Wednesday, but is only 5-5 at Indian Wells.

Pegula is 6-2 against Giorgi at all levels, which includes two victories in 2022, both of which went to 7-5 in the third.  The slower-paced hard courts at Indian Wells do not favor Camila’s power game, so I like Jess to defeat the Italian again on Friday night.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Diego Schwartzman vs. Casper Ruud (3) – Ruud is just 3-4 to start the year, and 3-2 in the main draw at Indian Wells.  Schwartzman has only won two of his last 15 matches dating back to the US Open.  Diego leads their head-to-head 5-3.

Jordan Thompson vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas is 11-2 on the season, and 5-4 lifetime at Indian Wells.  Thompson defeated a returning-from-injury Gael Monfils in the opening round.  Stefanos is 2-0 against Jordan.

Evgeniya Rodina vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka lost to Krejcikova in the quarterfinals of Dubai, and is just 4-3 in the desert of California.  Rodina is a 34-year-old veteran who is 0-2 against Sabalenka. 

Barbora Krejcikova (16) vs. Dayana Yastremska (WC) – Krejcikova was the champion just two weeks ago in Dubai, where she defeated the top three players in the world.  Yastremska has been ranked as high as No.21, but has struggled to rebuild her ranking after a doping suspension in 2021.  Barbora and Dayana have split two previous meetings.

Maria Sakkari (7) vs. Shelby Rogers – Sakkari was the runner-up here a year ago, and could fall out of the top 8 in the world without another strong run this year.  Rogers was a quarterfinalist two years ago, and she is 3-0 against Sakkari.

Yibing Wu (WC) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (23) – These are two of the ATP’s speediest players.  Yibing, the Dallas champion last month, survived a third-set tiebreak on Wednesday evening.  Davidovich Fokina lost a third-set tiebreak of his own last week against Rublev in Dubai.

Daniil Medvedev (5) vs. Brandon Nakashima – Medvedev has won three hard court titles in as many weeks.  Nakashima defeated John Isner in the first round, and won two hard court titles during the fall.

Coco Gauff (6) vs. Cristina Bucsa (Q) – Gauff is 2-2 lifetime thus far at Indian Wells, but is 11-3 to start the year, having won a title in Auckland.  Bucsa has already won three matches this week in straight sets, having come through qualifying.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Rafael Nadal Boosts Olympic Preparations With Norrie Victory, Advances To Maiden 2024 Quarter-Final

Rafael Nadal reached his first ATP quarter-final in Bastad.

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Rafael Nadal boosted his preparations for the Olympics with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Cameron Norrie in Bastad.

The win means that Nadal is into his first ATP quarter-final of the season with an impressive straight sets win.

It didn’t all go Nadal’s way as the Spaniard was tested in the opening set with Norrie producing some consistent and attacking play.

The British number two managed to create some tough moments for Nadal but ultimately Norrie lacked that killer instinct to make it count.

That was the difference between him and Nadal as the Spaniard used the forehand to move Norrie out of position, therefore finishing the points off with ease.

A break in the seventh game put Nadal in control but the former champion in Bastad had to work hard to close out the opening set with Norrie pushing for the break.

However, Nadal did secure the opening set 6-4 with some incredible hitting.

As expected though Nadal’s level dropped in the second set as he still hasn’t managed to find his consistent level.

A sensational passing shot at the net saw Norrie break before consolidating to take a 4-1 lead.

It was an incredible turnaround for the Brit but a lack of composure and concentration allowed Nadal a chance to get back in the match.

Get back in the match Nadal did as he managed to sustain a high level of play throughout the next period of the match, securing five games in a row to claim the win.

After the match Nadal spoke about how crucial it was for him to improve his rhythm, “I think I played in some moments good tennis, in some moments I need to play a little bit more aggressive, but that is part of the journey today,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“Great feelings. I’ve been a while without playing on the Tour, since Roland Garros.  To have the chance to compete well against a great player like Cameron is a great feeling.

“I haven’t been competing very often, so matches and victories like today help. To be in rhythm the whole match and hold the pressure on the opponent the whole match, that’s something that I need to improve, because I didn’t play enough.”

Nadal will now aim for a tenth win of the season when he plays fourth seed Mariano Navone on Friday.

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Billie Jean King Cup Relocates From Sevilla To Malaga, Takes Place Alongside Davis Cup Final Eight Tournament

The Billie Jean King Cup has been relocated from Sevilla to Malaga.

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The Billie Jean King Cup Finals will now take place in Malaga and will be alongside the Davis Cup final eight tournament.

The ITF announced the news today that the Billie Jean King Cup Finals will be relocated from Sevilla to Malaga.

It will take place on the 13th-20th November and will be alongside the Davis Cup final eight tournament which will start on the 19th of November and will conclude on the 24th of November.

Speaking about the change tournament director Conchita Martinez spoke about the passion Malaga will bring to the event and has revealed that they have contacted existing ticket holders about the change, “I know that Malaga, just a two-hour drive from Sevilla, will deliver the exceptional atmosphere and passion that fans of the Billie Jean King Cup have come to know and love,” Martinez stated.

“We have informed all existing ticket holders of the changes and will be reissuing tickets for the new location, with the option of refunds for those who require them. We are set for a blockbuster fortnight of tennis this November and I can’t wait to welcome the tennis world to Malaga this November.”

The news will be disappointment to some ticket holders about the late change as the ITF continue to be unorganised when it comes to logistical events around the team competitions.

However, Malaga will aim to bring a unique atmosphere as the event will aim to boost the attendances of both team competitions.

The event will see four first round matches, four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final.

Here is the draw below with Canada looking to defend their title from last year.

Canada v BYE

Germany v Great Britain

Australia v BYE

Slovakia v USA

Spain v Poland

Czech Republic v BYE

Japan v Romania

Italy v BYE

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Carlos Alcaraz for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship

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Carlos Alcaraz after winning his semifinal on Friday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 14 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in gentlemen’s singles and mixed doubles.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic was on a 34 match Wimbledon win streak, playing for his fifth consecutive title, and had not lost a match on Centre Court in a full decade.  But in a spectacular five-hour five-setter, Carlos Alcaraz upset the all-time great to win his first Wimbledon title.  On Sunday, we get the rematch, as Djokovic looks to avenge that painful loss, and Alcaraz looks to defend a Major title, and win back-to-back Majors, for the first time.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

They followed up last year’s championship match here with another fantastic final just a month later in Cincinnati, where Djokovic saved championship point to eventually win in a third-set tiebreak, and after nearly four hours of play.  Novak would go on three weeks later to win the US Open, while Carlitos was not the same player for some time.  Alcaraz would not reach another final at any event for over six months, until this past March in Indian Wells. 

Despite a few surprising losses, and an injury that disrupted his season, Alcaraz is now a strong 32-6 on the year, and a superb 17-1 at Majors.  Carlitos has been able to quickly rebound from upsets at smaller events, like his loss to Jack Draper a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club, and up his level for the big events.  He’s dropped five sets through six matches, most of which have contained some sloppy play at times, yet Carlitos has played his best when it mattered most to reach his fourth Major final.  And he’s 3-0 thus far in Major finals.

2024 has been a surprisingly subpar season in the illustrious career of Djokovic.  Not only has he not won a title to date, he hadn’t advanced to a final until now.  Playing a more limited schedule, he’s just 23-6 this season.  And it was just a month ago that he was forced to withdraw from the Roland Garros quarterfinals after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and put his Wimbledon status in doubt.  Yet Novak has recovered almost miraculously, dropping only two sets to this stage, though he did receive a quarterfinal walkover of his own from an injured Alex de Minaur.

Overall Djokovic is 3-2 against Alcaraz, and they’ve split two meetings at Majors, both of which took place a year ago.  In the 2023 Roland Garros semifinals, Carlitos started cramping after just two sets of play, and provided little resistance in sets three and four.  That made his five-set victory in this final a month later all the more surprising.

Novak has not appeared to be significantly hampered by his surgically-repaired knee, though there’s no way it can be 100%.  So if another five-setter takes place on Sunday, that has to favor Carlitos, especially since he is an amazing 12-1 when pushed to five sets in his young career.

But the Djokovic CV at this tournament, and at this stage of Majors, is beyond formidable.  Since the start of The Championships in 2014, he is 59-3 at SW19.  And during the same span at all Majors, he is 42-8 in semifinals and finals.  Novak just very rarely loses matches like this, especially on Centre Court.

On a that surface usually favors the aggressor, Djokovic has been able to change that narrative with his stifling defense and court coverage.  However, Alcaraz is one of the only players Djokovic has ever faced who can match him defensively, and at times dictate play against him with his risk-taking style.  We saw here a year ago just how frustrated Novak became by Carlitos’ game, damaging the net post by breaking his racket against it after getting broken in the fifth set.

Yet as many have mentioned these last two weeks, Djokovic “has that look about him,” meaning the steely determination and confidence that he was lacking during the first six months of this year appear to be back.  He is extremely motivated to reassert himself atop the game, in a season where the new generation of Alcaraz and Sinner won the first two Majors. 

If Carlitos gets off to another slow start on Sunday (he’s lost the first set in three of his six matches thus far), or suffer lapses in his level again, Novak will take advantage of that better than any of the defending champion’s previous opponents.  And while he’ll surely do so at some point in his career, until Alcaraz defends a Major title, or wins back-to-back Majors, it’s hard to favor him to do so.  I’m backing Djokovic to win his eighth Wimbledon title, and his historical 25th Major singles title, the most of all-time.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Santiago Gonzalez and Giuliana Olmos vs. Jan Zielinski Su-wei Hsieh (7) – The Mexican team of Gonzalez and Olmos are playing for their first Major title, as Olmos is 0-1 in Major finals, while 41-year-old Gonzalez is 0-4.  Zielinski and Su-wei won this year’s Australian Open as a team, the first Major title of Zielinski’s career, while Su-wei has now won eight between women’s doubles and mixed, and is 8-1 in Major finals.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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