ATP Indian Wells 2019 Draw Preview and Analysis

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Djokovic wins Indian Wells

 

Novak Djokovic will look to continue his excellent run of form and further extend his lengthy lead at the top of the ATP Tour rankings. The Serbian lost to Taro Daniel here last year, one of the worst losses he suffered in his struggles in early 2018. Juan Martin Del Potro was the defending champion but is unable to compete this year due to a knee injury.

Full draw here: Indian Wells men’s 2019 Draw

As World No.1 and a winner of three straight grand slams, Djokovic has to be the heavy favourite coming into this event. He won three straight from 2014 to 2016 before injuries and a loss of form struck the Serbian. Now back to his best, he will hope to win a sixth title at Indian Wells. It’s hard to define what would be a tough early match for Djokovic but if any lower seed is, it has to be Nick Kyrgios. The Australian had a fascinating week in Acapulco, winning the title with three top 10 wins on the way. One of those was against Rafael Nadal, who had harsh words for the Australian and his behaviour after their match. While Kyrgios has had good wins against most of the top players, he has yet to actually drop a match against Djokovic. He is 2-0, winning both of their matches in 2017. In round four, the winner could play Gael Monfils. The Frenchman is on the up after a strong February with a Rotterdam title either side of semi finals in Dubai and Sofia.

Dominic Thiem will hope to at least match his career best at Indian Wells, having made the quarter finals in 2017. The Austrian is projected to get that far and should be favoured to but may have a tough ask against Borna Coric in a potential round four match. Coric won their only match on outdoor hard courts back at Miami in 2017. Since then, Coric is much improved and comes into the tournament off a Dubai semi final. For Thiem, he moves back to hard courts after time on the clay in February. He will be disappointed to have not won a title in either Rio or Buenos Aires, having been favoured to do so on both occasions.

Alexander Zverev once again disappointed in a grand slam back in January but bounced back with a good run to the final in Acapulco. While he was a straight sets loser to Nick Kyrgios there, it was a good bounce back week for the German heading into Indian Wells. His quarter of the draw includes some of the past, present and future hopes for top stars beyond the big four. He beat Alex de Minaur in Mexico and can play him once more in the fourth round if the Australian can beat Milos Raonic. It was Raonic that crushed Zverev in Melbourne and he will fancy his chances of doing so again, even if Zverev’s best of 3 credentials are far greater than his in best of 5. It would be their fourth meeting, with the Canadian currently leading the head to head 2-1.

Kevin Anderson heads the final section of the top half of the draw, although many more eyes will be on that of Stefanos Tsitsipas. The talented Greek finally picked up a statement win in Melbourne, beating Roger Federer in an impressive run to the second week. He has added to that with a Marseille title before making it to the final in Dubai. Federer got his revenge on a smaller stage there, defeating the Greek to win his 100th singles title. Anderson may be rusty coming into this tournament having not played since the Australian Open. He lost early there, something that has to be disappointing considering his top 8 seeding. The in-form Laslo Djere will be seeded here despite needing a wildcard entry, although his success has mostly been on clay courts so far.

Roger Federer leads the third quarter as fourth seed but will need to have a good run to ensure he doesn’t fall out of the top 5 heading into Miami. He finally sealed his 100th singles title on tour after a lengthy wait, after a win over Tsitsipas in the Dubai final. A losing finalist last year, he will be pleased to be avoiding Djokovic until a potential final. Were he to win the title again, it would be his sixth in total and 15 years since the first of them – where he beat Tim Henman in the 2004 final. Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka could play in the third round if both win their second round matches. Federer is 21-3 against his fellow countryman and is a perfect 17-0 on surfaces other than clay. Kyle Edmund will hope to take his success from the Indian Wells Challenger event into the real thing. The Brit is No.22 seed but will have his work cut out against the unseeded Frances Tiafoe if the American wins his opener.

Potential quarter final opponents for Federer include Marin Cilic and Denis Shapovalov although the favourite to advance will likely beat Kei Nishikori. Cilic has only made the quarter finals at Indian Wells once and has a lopsided record against Federer while Nishikori has a slightly more admirable record at 3-7. Both men had early exits in Dubai recently but it was Nishikori’s defeat that was more surprising, losing to Hubert Hurkacz – currently ranked outside the top 100. Although Cilic won the most notable clash between he and Nishikori, the Japanese currently leads the head to head 9-6.

Three time winner Rafael Nadal seeks to get back to the final for the first time since 2003. Losses have been infrequent over the last 12 months with just five defeats in that time. One of them came at Acapulco, where he lost a final set tiebreak to Nick Kyrgios.  Despite it being a match in which he held three match points, the drama didn’t end there with a rare outburst from Nadal regarding the Australian’s behaviour afterwards. The early rounds should be fairly straight forward until a potential meeting with Daniil Medvedev in round four. The Russian has begun to make a name for himself recently and has already made two finals this year, losing in Brisbane before winning in Sofia.

John Isner seeks to make his second final at Indian Wells, having done so in 2012. The American does seem to bring out his best tennis at home, having also won Miami last year. He will fancy his chances of at least living up to his eighth seed position with a couple of clay specialists likely to be up in the first two rounds for him. Round four may be a bit tougher with Karen Khachanov or Tomas Berdych amongst potential opponents. Like Medvedev, Khachanov is on the rise. He won his first Masters event last year in Paris, being one of the few players to beat Novak Djokovic since his return to form. However, he comes into the tournament with a four match losing streak dating back to the Australian Open.

Prediction
SF – Novak Djokovic def.  Stefanos Tsitsipas
SF – Roger Federer def. Rafael Nadal
F – Novak Djokovic def Roger Federer

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