Defending champion Roger Federer and red hot Juan Martin Del Potro are the only big names that remain in an already depleted upset ravaged first Master’s series event of the year at the BNP Paribas Open as Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem crashed out of the tournament in the third round matches.
Top seeded Swiss dropped only three games in his 6-2,6-1 demolition of Filip Krajinovic of Serbia and is now only two wins of ensuring he retains number one ranking at the end of the tournament ahead of the absent Rafael Nadal of Spain. He goes on to play the Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the fourth round on Wednesday. The stylish Frenchman beat compatriot Adrian Mannarino, seeded 20th, 7-5,4-6,6-1.
Federer takes a 3-1 record against Chardy who saved a match point in Rome Masters 2014 on clay, the only time he beat the five time champion. Del Potro, the sixth seeded Argentine who recently won the ATP 500 event in Acapulco, Mexico was a 6-4,7-6(3) winner over the veteran Spaniard David Ferrer, seeded 28th. Del Potro now has a 7-6 head to head record against the former world number three ranked Ferrer, he next plays another Argentine Leonardo Mayer, who ended the run of Taro Daniel 6-4,6-1. The 109th ranked Daniel had upset the five time champion Novak Djokovic who was playing in only his fifth match of the year after missing in action since Wimbledon last year.
In an already depleted field where three time champion Rafael Nadal, last year’s beaten finalist Stanislas Wawrinka and the former world number one Andy Murray be are absent still nursing injuries, the second seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia lost tamely to the veteran German Phillipp Kohlschreiber 4-6,4-6. The 31st seeded German plays the Frenchman Pierre Hugues-Herbert who advanced when countryman Gael Monfils retired with the score at 6-2,3-1 in Herbert’s favour. The 2016 finalist Milos Raonic of Canada who too is on a comeback trail beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-5,4-6,6-2 to set up a clash against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. The 32 year old Baghdatis was a 7-6(5),6-4 winner over Dudi Sela of Israel.
There were mixed results for Americans as the 18th seeded Sam Querrey came from a set down to beat India’s Yuki Bhambri 6-7(4),6-4,6-4. His next opponent Feliciano Lopez of Spain took out the 8th seeded Jack Sock, the highest ranked American with 7-6(6),4-6,6-4 win. Seventh seeded South African Kevin Anderson needed two tie-breaks to beat the Argentine Nicolas Kicker, he faces the 11th seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta who took out the GenNext star Daniil Medvedev 6-1,7-5.
In yet another surprise, the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, winner of the ATP 500 event in Dubai was drubbed 1-6,3-6 by the Croat Borna Coric. He next faces another American Taylor Fritz who had a hard fought 4-6,6-2,7-6(1) win over the left handed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
The unseeded Spaniard, once ranked in the top ten, had upset the fourth ranked Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the previous round. In other results, the Argentina born Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, seeded 30th, advanced when the fifth seeded Dominic Thiem retired with Cuevas leading 3-6,6-4,4-2. Another surprising result saw the veteran Tomas Berdych, seeded 12th, losing to the Korean Hyeon Chung, seeded 23rd 4-6,4-6.
The following is the fourth round line up with my pick mentioned first:-
Roger Federer (1) v. Jeremy Chardy (-)
Hyeon Chung (23) v. Pablo Cuevas (30)
Borna Coric (-) v. Taylor Fritz (-)
Kevin Anderson (7) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (11)
Sam Querrey (18) v. Feliciano Lopez (28)
Milos Raonic (32) v. Marcos Baghdatis (-)
Juan Martin Del Potro (6) v. Leonardo Mayer (-)
Phillip Kohlschreiber (32) v. Pierre Hugues-Herbert (-)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]