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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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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