2019 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells: Ivo Karlovic vs Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Preview and Prediction
Neither of them was expected to reach this far. The Croatian was in awful form coming into this tournament, losing three straight first round matches before coming here and the Indian was playing only his first Masters level tournament.
But it has been a dream run for both of them thus far. Gunneswaran has been a revelation in this tournament. He had to play qualifying matches to reach the main round. In the first match of the main round, he met the highly talented, yet volatile Frenchman, Benoit Paire. Both players played attractive brand of attacking tennis. In the end, it was the more consistent Indian who edged the match in two tight sets.
He did even better in the second round by getting past the world number 18, Nikoloz Basilashvili. When he failed to serve for the match while being a break up in the deciding set, it seemed he had missed the boat. But he came back strongly in the tie-break and secured possibly his biggest win so far.
He has been a late bloomer. But in the last two years, he has certainly served notice to the tennis world through some terrific performances. Before these two big scalps, he had got the better of Danis Shapovalov last year.
He has certainly proved himself capable of playing well against the big guns. If he continues to play this brand of tennis more consistently, he can certainly establish himself among the top 50 of the world.
His next round match will be another test of his game and temperament. He meets the towering Croatian, Ivo Karlovic, who has suddenly found his mojo in this tournament after a horror run in his last few tournaments.
He came to the Californian desert on the back of three first round losses in his last three tournaments. But he has been a former world number fourteen, and if he serves the way he can, it is almost impossible to break him. No wonder many of his matches involve a lot of tie-breaks.
At Indian Wells, he has served extremely well, and has served 38 aces and 10 double faults thus far. He won against Matthew Ebden by winning two tie-breaks and he won another tie-breaker against his compatriot Borna Coric in the second round.
But what would give Gunneswaran belief, apart from his own talent, is that the Croatian has been broken twice in these two matches. That means, the Indian is likely to get some chances to break the Croatian, and he should convert those chances.
Ivo has never been known for his return games. So, Gunneswaran must ensure that he holds his own service games and then try to find opportunities in the Croatian’s service games to break. The Indian certainly is in with a chance to cause one more upset.
Prediction: Prajnesh Gunneswaran to win in 3 sets