The string of major upsets in the year 2017 have continued with the shocking loss of top ranked Andy Murray at the hands of Canada’s Vasek Pospisil as the qualifier ranked 129th in the world used a strong serve and volley game to beat the Scott 6-4, 7-6(5) on Saturday at the first masters series event of the year in Indian Wells, California. The world number One whose best result was a runner up finish against Rafael Nadal of Spain in 2009 struggled with his own serve throughout the match and suffered his first loss in five meetings, at the hands of Pospisil. In what was a rematch of the 2015 quarter final at Wimbledon, Pospisil notched the biggest win of his career and showed why he was ranked 25th in the world in 2015.
In another major upset in the top half of the draw, Jo Wilfred Tsonga (won in Rotterdam and Marseille in February), one of only two men to claim two titles in 2017 thus far (Dimitrov is the other), was dumped 6-7(4), 6-3, 4-6 by the Italian Fabio Fognini in two hours and 30 minutes. The 43rd ranked Italian who reached a career high ranking of 13 three years ago beat the eight ranked Frenchman seeded seventh. Tsonga leads the tour with maximum number of match wins having won 17 matches in 2017.
The other title contenders in the top of the draw advanced, led by the reigning U.S. Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, seeded third, eighth seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria, tenth seeded Gael Monfils of France, 11th seeded David Goffin of Belgium, 13th seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and the sixteenth seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Two other lower seeds also were upset, the 19th seeded Ivo Karlovic was beaten by the lucky loser from Japan, Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 3-6. The Croat who turned 38 on February 28th slipped to 4-6 for the year as he lost in eighty minutes. Croatia’s Dusan Lajovic also beat another veteran, 35 year old Feliciano Lopez of Spain. The 30th seeded Lopez who is ranked 34th, lost 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(2) in one hour and fifty six minutes. Lajovic will now play Pospisil in the round of 32 on Monday.
Other players to advance were the American John Isner, Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas who won the Sao Paulo Open in Brazil, and the Germans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mischa Zverev. The third seeded Wawrinka who is still searching for his maiden title in 2017, beat the 35 year old Lorenzi, ranked 38 in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. The 23 year old Thiem who won the title in Rio De Janeiro also won in straight sets against Jeremy Chardy of France 6-2, 6-4 in 74 minutes.
Following is the list of matches in the round of 64 to be played on Sunday in the bottom half of the draw with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (2) v. Kyle Edmund
Juan Martin Del Potro (31) v. Frederico Delbonis
Alexander Zverev (18) v. Facundo Bagnis
Nick Kyrgios (15) v. Horacio Zeballos
Roger Federer (9) v. Stephane Robert
Steve Johnson (24) v. Kevin Anderson
Fernando Verdasco (26) v. Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Rafael Nadal (5) v. Guido Pella
Kei Nishikori (4) v. Daniel Evans
Jiri Vesley (-) v. Gilles Muller (25)
Sam Querrey (23) v. Donald Young
Lucas Pouille (14) v. Jan-Lennard Struff
Grigor Dmitrov (12) v. Mikhail Youzhny
Jack Sock (17) v. Henri Laaksonen
Malek Jaziri (-) v. Marcel Granollers (32)
Marin Cilic (6) v. Taylor Fritz
Novak Djokovic who has won the title five times at Indian Wells, including an unprecedented four time double of winning the Miami Masters in the same year, having won in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016 apart from winning the title in 2008, will have to be watchful against the British Davis cup player Kyle Edmund as he looks to recover top form. Another Briton Daniel Evans will fancy his chances against the injury prone Kei Nishikori of Japan, seeded fourth.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]