The Indian Wells Masters is halfway done with the third round of the women’s section already underway and that of the men’s tournament commencing tomorrow.
The men’s tournament has seen a couple of upsets already with top seed and favourite Andy Murray being eliminated by Vasek Pospisil in the second round soon after dark horse Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was shockingly beaten by Fabio Fognini at the same stage.
Another big name who was eliminated yesterday was Marin Cilic, who lost to 19-year-old Taylor Fritz in three sets. The third round has some very interesting matchups and some of them will be expected to be marathon encounters.
With the third round only a matter of hours away, let’s take a look at five matches that could provide fans with some serious entertainment.
#5 Grigor Dimitrov vs Jack Sock
Both Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock have been in terrific form this year as both have won two titles apiece. Dimitrov began his year by winning the Brisbane International and followed it up by reaching his second Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open where he was beaten by Rafael Nadal.
This was followed by his second ATP title of the year at the Sofia Open where he beat Belgian David Goffin in straight sets.
Sock also had a brilliant start to the year, winning the Auckland Open by defeating Joao Sousa in the final which resulted in him entering the Top 20 for the very first time in his career. This was followed by his first third-round appearance at the Australian Open where he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Sock won his second title of the year at the Delray Beach Open after Milos Raonic pulled out of the final.
Both players have reached the third round of the Indian Wells Masters, but in contrasting fashion. While Dimitrov cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 win over former Top 10 player Mikhail Youzhny, the same cannot be said for Sock as he had to battle past Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen to win in three sets, after being bageled in the second set.
The two will be playing against one another for the fourth time, with Sock leading the head-to-head 2-1, having won their previous two encounters, both in 2015. Both players have a very powerful serve and have an all-court style of play although Sock might be a tad more aggressive than Dimitrov.
Nevertheless, the match will be expected to be an exciting contest and both these players would be willing to give their all.
#4 Gael Monfils vs John Isner
Both Gael Monfils and John Isner have reached two ATP quarter-finals in this year’s World Tour so far with Monfils reaching the quarter-finals of the Open 13 and Dubai Tennis Championships and Isner reaching the quarter-finals of the Auckland Open and Memphis Open.
At the Australian Open, Monfils reached the fourth round while Isner was knocked out in the second round. Their third round match at the Indian Wells Masters will be their ninth meeting, with the winner taking the lead in their head-to-head, which is all square at 4-4.
Both players did not have a smooth outing in the second round as the 10th seeded Monfils came back from a set down to defeat Barbados qualifier, Darian King, while the 20th seeded Isner defeated Kazakh, Mikhail Kukushkin, in two tiebreak sets. Even though Monfils looks the favourite, you can never write off somebody like Isner who can pull out a trick or two and cause an upset.
#3 Rafael Nadal vs Fernando Verdasco
The last meeting between Nadal and Verdasco was at this very tournament and at this very stage with Nadal winning the match 6-0, 7-6. The two have met a total of 19 times previously with Nadal leading 16-3. However, they have had a number of close contests, the most notable of those being at the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open where Nadal won in five sets.
Nadal has redeemed himself this year by reaching the final of the Australian Open while Verdasco’s form has also been passable so far, having reached the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Both players have reached the third round after straight-sets wins in the second round and even though Nadal looks like the overwhelming favourite to win this match, it will not be an easy ride for Rafa.
#2 Alexander Zverev vs Nick Kyrgios
The battle of the rising stars, without a shadow of a doubt. Both Zverev and Kyrgios have been hailed as future Grand Slam champions and World No.1s by current and former tennis players as a result of the number of promising performances they have produced over the past two years.
Both Zverev and Kyrgios have been in decent form this year with Zverev defeating Federer at the Hopman Cup and almost defeating Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open while Kyrgios defeated Novak Djokovic at the Mexican Open quarter-finals.
The duo are close friends and will be locking horns for the first time at an individual tournament. Both players won their respective second round matches at the Indian Wells Masters in straight sets and as they are both aggressive baseliners, this match will be expected to be a humdinger.
#1 Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin Del Potro
Section-8 of the draw is very tricky with a Zverev-Kyrgios encounter on one side and the highly anticipated Djokovic-Del Potro match on the other side. The two will be locking horns for the second time within a span of nearly two weeks as they met previously at the Mexican Open where the Argentine gave Djokovic a run for his money before losing in three sets.
Both Djokovic and Del Potro have had some very close contests in the recent past with the Serb’s last straight set win over Del Potro coming way back in 2013 at the Dubai Tennis Championships. The Argentine’s, meanwhile, came seven months ago during the Rio Olympics.
Both players had straight set wins in the second round and even though there is a huge gulf in their rankings, a match between Djokovic and Del Potro is hardly expected to be one-sided.