If you are a tennis junkie or just a casual tennis observer, either way you have to be pretty impressed by the product Indian Wells is putting out there today.
That said, if you don’t have a ticket or access or decent TV coverage – no, FSN and Justin Gimestob doesn’t count – or some sort of online live streaming connection or you are stuck at work, you are probably screwed.
Anyway, what we have are the Top 3 men’s players all on center court today – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic along with the rest of the Sweet 16.
All eyes will be on defending champ Nadal who gets a crack at Ali Jr, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It was Tsonga of course who destroyed Nadal losing just seven games to the Spaniard in an Australian Open semifinals stunner. Tsonga was somewhat an unknown commodity in that match, today he isn’t. He’s a marked man and Nadal will want revenge and I think on a slower court and with a better understanding of what Tsonga brings to the table, Nadal gets it, or at the very least win more than seven games.
Says Nadal on the matchup, “I think I’m going to be fine tomorrow, no? After tomorrow for I go on court and for try to beat him, no? Well, going to be important to serve well, because he’s strong in his serve, and from baseline, try to play a little bit more aggressive than in Australia, no?”
Well, yes, Rafa, you’re going to have to serve well if Tsonga is on his game.
Top seed Federer has looked sharp through two rounds but he’s stepping up in class today against Ivan Ljubicic who is capable of serving his way to a couple of breakers and testing the Fed’s mental toughness. Then again the once-second ranked Croat can just as easily lay an egg. It’s his 29th birthday so let’s hope he puts up a good showing.
Djokovic will also be tested by the human backboard, Guillermo Canas, who remember made news a year ago upsetting Federer at Indian Wells and again Miami. Can he again pull off a similar feat by dumping Djoko? Possible, but I don’t think Canas is playing at the level he was a year ago at this time.
Also today, Richard Gasquet will try to remain perfect against James Blake in the evening, and on the outer courts, escape artist David Nalbandian, who twice was on the verge of being served off the court already in this event, faces former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. Ernests Gulbis and Radek Stepanek each served for the match against doughnut Dave but failed. It’s actually a good sign for Nalbandian supporters, that’s just how the guy wins. Never easy and I think he comes through again today.
Andy Murray and Tommy Haas should offer good viewing value. I think the match is in Haas’s hands so I’ll go with Murray. And Lleyton Hewitt, who’s quietly playing some good ball, is my new pick to get to the semifinals. Stan Wawrinka and Hyung Taik Lee are also on the schedule.
Let’s give some love to ladies, today we also have Maria Sharapova against defending champion Daniela Hantuchova. I think Sharapova will win – actually they should just hand her the trophy now! – but I think it should be a good match.
So it figures to be a good day in all. Let’s hope it lives up to the billing and we get some more March Madness.
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