As always, I would like to thanks Tennis-Buzz.
A few rounds of top tennis have gone by since my post about the early part of the tournament, and there has been a lot of drama! Wednesday saw what was the biggest day of tennis the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has ever seen, with all the top seeds in action (apart from Ferrer who was already out). Well none of the seeds were massively troubled making it through to the round of 16; the one match I would like to mention though is the Almagro-Haas encounter. I picked Haas to make a slight upset, and he didn’t disappoint, coming out on top 6-3 6-7 7-6 in an epic. Great tennis from both men, but Haas really just seems to get better and better with age, and maybe that extra bit of wiliness pulled him through.
The next round however would throw up some more noteworthy results. Unfortunately for Haas, his good run wouldn’t continue as he was demolished by Del Potro, winning just three games. Djokovic, Murray and Berdych all came through in straight sets too, against Dimitrov, Berlocq and Gasquet respectively. Incidentally Berlocq’s outrageously load grunting did get on the Scot’s nerves to the extent that he had quite a rant about it afterwards. I think you’ve got to take his side really, especially seeing as the grunting was particularly sporadic.
At the bottom of the draw, Federer had a close shave, getting past compatriot and friend Wawrinka 6-3 6-7 7-5. He really should’ve closed it out when he served for the match in the second, but you’ve got to credit Stan for upping his game, particularly with an incredible backhand pass to begin the game.
Rafa Nadal would later fix the dream quarter-final as he too had a close one, eventually beating the hard-hitting Gulbis 4-6 6-4 7-5, breaking quite a winning streak that the Latvian was on. Nadal said after that his knee wasn’t so great in the match but that he was particularly pleased with how he fought and toughed it out like the Nadal of old.
Tsonga and Anderson also both came through three setters, against Raonic and Simon. Tsonga was impressive, being hampered by injury early on but still getting the better of the Canadian powerhouse. Anderson will too have been very pleased with this win, further backing up his earlier defeat of fourth seed Ferrer. He really has upped his game this year since the Aussie Open and it’ll be interesting to see how much higher he can move in the rankings.
The Blockbuster match was of course the Nadal-Federer affair. 2004 was the last time they met this early in a tournament, so it seemed a bit strange, and the last time they had faced off was a year ago in the semis of the same tournament, the Swiss winning in 2. Nadal came into this one stressing that he really didn’t believe he had the necessary level to win; but come match day he played a superb match, winning 6-4 6-2. Admittedly Federer was having some back trouble: he was able to serve full pace but was visibly impaired in his movement. Nadal mentioned later that Federer clearly wasn’t his usual self as he didn’t appear to fight at all in the second set. However this was still a huge plus for the Nadal comeback - something from which he will surely take a lot of confidence. Federer is sitting out of Miami this year, so hopefully he’ll have ample time to rest up an recover before he returns to the European clay.
Slightly less anticipated was the Berdych-Anderson quarter-final. Berdych proved far too strong for the South African in Melbourne earlier this year and the same was true on Thursday as he came through 6-4 6-4. As I’ve said before, the problem for Anderson is that they both play very similar games, but Berdych just does everything a bit better. I think the Berdych-Nadal semi is quite intriguing. Though the Czech hasn’t beaten the Spaniard in ages, he is really on a high at the moment, playing some of his best ever tennis. He really impressed, crushing Gasquet in straights. Though Nadal is playing remarkably well considering the circumstances, I think that Berdych is the kind of player who could exploit any weaknesses which remain in his movement. This could well turn out to be a breakthrough for Berdych, who hasn’t won a masters tournament since his lone victory in 2005.
Djokovic raced through his quarter final, ousting Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-3 6-1 taking just 53 minutes. He is now on a 22 match winning streak; discounting that unofficial loss to Tomic in Hopman cup, he is undefeated this year, and will be wanting another season like his famous breakout year in 2011. He only dropped 5 points on serve throughout and credited his decision to focus solely on his own game. Tsonga was understandably disappointed at his performance; he was far too inconsistent to trouble the Serb at any stage. However the positive he can take forwards is a career first quarter final at Indian Wells. He will be hoping for a slightly quicker surface next week in Miami to better utilise his serve and forehand.
Djokovic will once again meet Del Potro in the semis, after the Argentine rallied to beat Murray 6-7 6-3 6-1 on Friday night. The first set was close, with no breaks of serve and Murray was able to come up with his better tennis when it really mattered. However he stuttered in the second, losing his serve to love in the first game as Del Potro’s level increased. The disparity between the two players just got bigger from there with Murray losing his serve three times in the final set. Del Potro seemed to manage the high temperatures better than the Scot – perhaps unsurprisingly, though Murray has just spent a month in Miami training hard. I guess his lack of match practice didn’t help – I’ll be expecting an improvement come Miami. Delpo takes a 2-8 head to head into his semi with Novak, and lost to him recently in the semis in Dubai in two sets. He will surely be hoping for an improvement this time around; personally I think he might take a set at best. Djokovic’s form at the moment is simply outstanding – I can’t see anyone beating him on hard courts any time soon.
Check back very soon – I’ll be posting about the business end of the tournament – the four players left are arguably the top four in the world right now so it should make for some great tennis!