You know you’re in a granite quarter when Verdasco and Johnson look like a pair of ten-a-penny bums. With 3 previous champions who have won 12 of the last 13 titles all lumped together no-one bar Murray is going to progress quietly. The preceding week’s action has also been anything but run-of-the-mill. We saw Kyrgios serve up 25 aces in ousting Djokovic in Acapulco. Novak did match his number of 25, not with serves but seconds spent in the post match press conference. The stark contrast in discipline between the two means the Serb probably has very little time for the Aussie Master Of The Moodswing.
Kyrgios repeatedly spoke of his pride in his attitude on court in recent interviews before somewhat ballooning out of the tournament at the end of his semi-final vs Querrey. Big Sam went on to be the first American to win the ATP 500 title (beating Rafa in the final). A lot of eyes will still be on the Australian in Indian Wells, whereas Querrey will very likely slip back into the yo-yo apathy in attitude that seems to have blotted his career.
Much has been commented about Andy’s terrible form at IW and perhaps the organisers heeded the Scot’s Californian woes with such a cushy route to the final.
This sees Andy entering the tournament as favourite despite only ever reaching the final once in 2009. With such a strong record in the following Miami Masters and little pressure on the no.1 spot (even if Novak won both upcoming Masters tournaments Andy’s primo status would be safe) we wouldn’t bank on his motivation being strong enough to justify the relatively short odds. On that basis we would look to Djokovic to make it 4 years in a row, this time as 2nd favourite for a change. His loss to Kyrgios should spur him on and the fact is if Nick turns it on for 2 sets he would probably beat anyone.
Also in Andy’s side of the draw is Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who won Rotterdam and backed it up with The Marseille Open before taking the week off. He is playing some solid tennis having only dropped one set in both tournaments and a current best price of 33/1 looks tempting on the each way.
On the WTA side, everyone had been waiting in unison for Svitolina to get it done on the big stage, and having walked the Dubai Premier event she then withdrew the week after – presumably in preparation to continue cementing her place in the upper echelons at Indian Wells. That being said, she’ll need to by-pass Muguruza and Pliskova en route to any limelight, but we still fancy her chances as 3rd favourite.
Of the 1st round matches, CiCi Bellis vs Flipkens could provide some value. Flipper will very likely put the 18 year-old American to the test before a partisan crowd in her home state. While Bellis looks to have a good head on her young shoulders, the pressure could yet prove overwhelming against a wily customer, making a 1.4 lay worth a Flipken-esque spin.
Neither Rajeev Ram or Vasek Pospisil have much form coming into this event and with Vasek’s perpetual flakiness it could be worth a 1.6 lay to cheer on Rampras on home soil. And for sheer entertainment value? Two bouts seem to appeal; a generation battle of talented Russians in Medvedev vs Youhzny and flair against guile in Dustin Brown vs Dan Evans. Hope you’re looking forward to it all as much as we are.