France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is back in Indian Wells, where he is one of the top seeds in the extensive draw. His opening match will be against fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau, whom he holds a 5-4 lead in the head-to-head series.
The world No. 10 has not been at his best so far in 2014. He reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, losing to Roger Federer. He followed up with a loss to Marin Cilic in the second round of the Rotterdam Open but would redeem himself and reach the finals in Marseille before losing to Latvian No. 1 Ernests Gulbis. He is now coming off a quarter-final exit to eventual runner-up Tomas Berdych in Dubai.
Tsonga’s position in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Ranking is continuously destabilizing as he continues to underachieve on the tour. He will need a strong showing this week at the BNP Paribas Open to maintain his position. He is currently defending quarter-final points at the event, having lost to Novak Djokovic at that stage last year.
Benneteau worked his way to the second round in Indian Wells with a three set victory over Munoz de la Nava. After dropping the first set 6-3, Benneteau retaliated with a 6-1 second set to level the match. The Frenchman would take an early break in the third set and while he would face several threatening points throughout the set, he eventually sealed the match with a 6-3 score.
This marks the tenth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Tsonga leading the series 5-4. Tsonga has won their two most recent meetings in Paris (2012) and Wimbledon (2010). He will likely still edge out the victory in three sets but it will not be a quick or easy contest.
Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Three Sets