Tomas Berdych will look to bounce back from his disappointing early exit in Indian Wells when he plays Andrey Rublev on Saturday. Rublev is one of a number of highly touted youngsters who received a wildcard into the tournament due to being represented by IMG.
Berdych’s first few tournaments saw perfectly reasonable losses to Federer, Murray and Tsonga but he will be sorely disappointed by his Dubai and Indian Wells exit. He lost to Robin Haase in Rotterdam while the aforementioned early loss in Indian Wells came to Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese had somewhat of a breakout tournament with wins over Karlovic and Berdych but having held a set and break lead, Berdych should certainly not be dropping matches to players like Nishioka.
Meanwhile, Rublev had a great start to the tournament with a dominant win over Florian Mayer. He dropped just 2 games in victory over the German as he looked to build on his semi final run in the strong Irving Challenger tournament. He had wins over top 100 players in Jeremy Chardy and Jan Lennard Struff on his way there. Rublev’s experiences against the top players has been minimal so far with three top 10 clashes. Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka had routine victories while Marin Cilic had to come from a set down to beat him in 2015.
On paper, you’d expect Berdych to bounce back with a victory here but given his recent vulnerabilities it is hard to guarantee. Rublev eventually will have a breakout tournament and it may not be here but he is impressive enough to exploit Berdych if the Czech is off his game still.
Prediction – Tomas Berdych in three sets