On a day when three Argentine’s knocked out seeded players in 2016, their biggest hope Juan Martin Del Potro playing his first top 10 opponent since returning to the tour in Delray Beach last month was halted by the seventh ranked Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-2 in second round action at the first Masters series 1000 event of the year in Indian Wells, California.
The 27 year old Del Potro who went into the match with a 4-2 head to head record against the sixth seeded Berdych wasted 5 break point opportunities in the first set and after squandering a set point on Del Potro’s serve in the 12th game, the Czech raised his game to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Del Potro offered little resistance in the second set losing 6-2.
Frederico Delbonis beat the 32nd seeded Joao Sousa 7-6(6),6-4; Guido Pella beat the 22nd seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay (winner in Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 and Leonardo Mayer beat the 20th seeded Victor Troicki ( winner in Sydney) of Serbia 7-5,6-3 on Saturday.
Meanwhile second seeded Andy Murray saw off the Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-4,7-6(3) and next faces Delbonis in the round of 32. Stanislas Wawrinka, the highest ranked Swiss in the draw in the absence of three time champion Roger Federer routed Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko 6-3,6-2. Eighth seeded Richard Gasquet beat fellow countryman Nicolas Mahut 6-4,6-1.
The Croat Marin Cilic accounted for the American Ryan Harrison 6-4,6-3 and Milos Raonic playing in his first match since losing in the Australian Open semi-final was too strong for the Spaniard Inigo Cervantes 6-1,6-3. Other seeded players to advance were the Frenchman Gael Monfils, David Goffin of Belgium, the Australian Bernard Tomic and the Ukrainian Alexander Dolgopolov.
It was not a good day for the lower seeds as the Croat Borna Coric beat the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci (seeded 29th) 6-2,6-2, Andrey Kuznetsov upset the Frenchman Jeremy Chardy (seeded 28th) and the Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas upset the Australian 24th seed Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4),7-5.
The line up for Sunday in the top half of the draw with my pick mentioned first is as under:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Bjorn Fratangelo
Phillipe Kohlschreiber (27) v. Dennis Kudla
Feliciano Lopez (18) v. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Roberto Bautista Agut (14) v. Mikhail Youzhny
Dominic Thiem (11) v. Jozef Kovalik
Jack Sock (21) v. Michael Berrer
Sam Querrey (31) v. Thiemo De Bakker
Jo Wilfred Tsonga (7) v. Vincent Millot
Rafael Nadal (4) v. Giles Muller
Martin Klizan (25) v. Fernando Verdasco
Grigor Dmitrov (23) v. Alexander Zverev
Giles Simon (16) v. Vasek Pospisil
John Isner (9) v. Andreas Seppi
Benoit Paire (19) v. Adrian Mannarino
Steve Johnson (30) v. John Millman
Kei Nishikori (5) v. Mikhail Kukushkin
Nishikori will have to be at his best against Kukushkin who almost beat Novak Djokovic in the Davis Cup first round action last Sunday; while the match of the day could well be between the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov and the German teenager Alexander Zverev. All eyes would probably be on the six Americans in action on Day 4 of which the four seeds should advance, namely Isner, Sock, Querrey and Johnson.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]