ATP Indian Wells 2014 – Draw Analysis and Predictions – – Our News, Your Views

ATP Indian Wells 2014 – Draw Analysis and Predictions

The BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells Masters) is the first of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. It is considered to be one of the biggest tennis tournaments, apart from the four major Grand Slams, where main draw play extends beyond eight days. Along with the Sony Open (Miami Masters), these two events headline the first of two North American hard court swings (the second of which, of course, is the US Open Series). 

The 2014 ATP Tour couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Only for the third time since 2005 did a player not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray go on to hoist Major silverware – when Stanislas Wawrinka defied the odds to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. In so doing, the Swiss became the first player to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to a Major triumph.

Wawrinka aside, other players who have had scribes excited are;

  • Gael Monfils and Ernests Gulbis – two of the Tour’s most entertaining athletes – have enjoyed quite a start to the season. The Frenchman took home the title in Montpellier, while the Latvian triumphed in Marseille. The pair will be looking to make more noise before the hard court season gives way to the terre battue.
  • Tomas Berdych, the Czech powerhouse went on a career-best 11-match unbeaten run, including Davis Cup wins, the Rotterdam title before narrowly losing out in the Dubai finale (l. Roger Federer)
  • Grigor Dimitrov, the talented Bulgarian seems to be going from strength to strength under the tutelage of Roger Rasheed – after a gut wrenching Quarterfinal loss Down Under (l. Rafael Nadal), “Grisha” went on to win his first ATP 500 title at Acapulco (d. Kevin Anderson). That he has shored up his physical and mental reserves were clearly on display as he won three successive 3-set matches in the lead-up to the championship (including five straight tiebreakers).
  • Quite surprisingly, Roger Federer himself makes this list! The Swiss Maestro had to endure an annus horribilis in 2013 when he won all of one title and failed to make the final of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2002. Having dropped to an unflattering #8 in the world rankings, Roger – quite literally – stopped the press and rolled back the years as he came from behind to beat Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych en route his 78th career title. Victory in Dubai also elevated him to #3 in the list of Open Era titlists, behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

In the build-up to the year’s first Masters 1000 event, here are some other talking points;

  • Rafael Nadal, who won a 62nd career title in Rio (d. Aleksandr Dolgopolov), will be hoping his back issues do not flare up again.
  • Novak Djokovic enters Indian Wells without a title (or even a tournament finale) to his name for the first time since 2006. Also – head coach Boris Becker will take rest, while Marian Vajda returns to Team Djokovic.
  • Andy Murray‘s promising return from back surgery continued. The Scot is yet to win a title since last year’s landmark Wimbledon triumph, but his two recent losses have been to spirited opponents, including a semifinal loss to eventual champion Dimitrov in Acapulco.
  • Juan Martín del Potro‘s wrist injury made an unwanted re-appearance; the affable Argentine was nearly in tears when he retired from his opening match in Dubai. He is, though, going ahead and taking part in both the singles and doubles events at Indian Wells.
  • David Ferrer has been forced to pull out of the BNP Paribas Open with an injury. The 31-year old has made a name for himself over the past couple of years as the Tour’s “Iron Man” and will look to return at the earliest.

The BNP Paribas Open draw threw up some interesting routes for some of the household names. Rafael Nadal drew Andy Murray in his quarter and Stanislas Wawrinka is his half. If it isn’t one Swiss, it could be the other! Roger Federer was drawn in his compatriot’s quarter. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, has Juan Martín del Potro in his quarter and Tomas Berdych in his half. Richard Gasquet was drawn in the Czech’s quarter.

Without further ado, we analyse the men’s singles draw and offer what could be the projected path of some of the big names;

Projected paths[Prefix] denotes seeding

Top half – 

[1] Rafael Nadal: BYE > Radek Stepanek > Alexandr Dolgopolov > Fabio Fognini/Gael Monfils > Andy Murray > Stanislas Wawrinka/Roger Federer > Novak Djokovic

[5] Andy Murray: BYE > Lukas Rosol > Pablo Andujar > Milos Raonic/Jerzy Janowicz > Rafael Nadal > Stanislas Wawrinka/Roger Federer > Novak Djokovic

[3] Stanislas Wawrinka: BYE > Ivo Karlovic > Andreas Seppi > Kevin Anderson > Roger Federer/Kei Nishikori > Rafael Nadal > Novak Djokovic

[7] Roger Federer: BYE > Paul-Henri Mathieu > Dmitry Tursunov > Kei Nishikori/Tommy Haas > Stanislas Wawrinka > Rafael Nadal > Novak Djokovic

Bottom half –

[8] Richard Gasquet: BYE > Nicolas Mahut > Fernando Verdasco > John Isner/Philipp Kohlschreiber > Tomas Berdych/Grigor Dimitrov > Novak Djokovic > Rafael Nadal

[4] Tomas Berdych: BYE > Roberto Bautista-Agut > Florian Mayer > Grigor Dimitrov/Ernests Gulbis > Novak Djokovic > Rafael Nadal

[6] Juan Martín del Potro: BYE > Feliciano Lopez > Vasek Pospisil > Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/Gilles Simon > Novak Djokovic > Tomas Berdych > Rafael Nadal

[2] Novak Djokovic: BYE > Victor Hanescu > Ivan Dodig > Marin Cilic > Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/Vasek Pospisil > Tomas Berdych/Grigor Dimitrov > Rafael Nadal

Prediction for Semifinal #1: [1] Rafael Nadal to beat [7] Roger Federer

The Federer of 2014 has already put his 2013 self in the shade; the question remains – can he beat his biggest nemesis on a court that will favour the southpaw? He has done so before (most recently, on these very courts, in 2012). But may be not this time.

Prediction for Semifinal #2: [2] Novak Djokovic to beat [4] Tomas Berdych

The Czech could well be a force to reckon with this season, but Nole may just have an x-factor that will see him through to the final.

Prediction for the Final: [2] Novak Djokovic to beat [1] Rafael Nadal in three sets and win a 17th Masters 1000 title

Camp Nadal know what it takes to post a comeback win, they did it here last year. Given the Serb’s confidence levels will not be at an all-time high, the Mallorcan would fancy notching up another win in the pair’s storied rivalry. But… Djokovic may just pocket this one.

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