In spirit of March Madness, we had some good old fashioned bracket bustin’ going on yesterday at Indian Wells with James Blake, Mardy Fish and Tommy Haas scoring upsets. Then again maybe I’m just really bad at picking matches – for the record I have UCLA beating Georgetown in my just-completed basketball bracket!
But really revenge was the theme of the day Wednesday, and maybe it will become the ultimate storyline of the tournament (Federer v. Djoko final?).
We know of Rafael Nadal’s revenge win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nadal, in my opinion, had no business winning that match even though JW was a shell of his playing level from Australia. Then again, we often do see players have difficulty following through shortly after reaching a first Slam final.
David Nalbandian got off the snide ending a four-match losing skid to Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had beaten the Argy easily in Melbourne. Nalbandian even won in straight sets.
Blake had never beaten Richard Gasquet in two prior tries until demolishing the Frenchman yesterday.
Tommy Haas lost a third set breaker to Andy Murray in last year at Indian Wells. This time it was Haas coming from a set down to win.
And Mardy Fish had lost his only career matchup with Lleyton Hewitt but now that series stands level after pulling out a third set breaker.
In all, five of the eight players who won yesterday had lost to their opponents in their previous meeting. Rather unusual if nothing else.
What it leaves us with is Roger Federer v. Tommy Haas, David Nalbandian v. Mardy Fish, Novak Djokovic v. Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal v. James Blake.
Today, revenge remains on the mind for defending champ Rafa against James Blake, who has never lost to the Spaniard in three meetings winning seven of eight sets. Blake’s had his way with Rafa, a testament to the American’s improved backhand, which years ago would have crumbled against Nadal’s heavy topspin. Rafa really hasn’t played that well this week and with the match under the lights I think Blake gets the edge here.
Djokovic’s nice-and-easy road continues this afternoon against Wawrinka. The Swiss has a good game with a really terrific one-hander, but just not enough firepower to get by Djoko.
Tomorrow we get Federer against Haas, who has the talent and the game to hang with the World No. 1, but can he keep his head in check and end a 7-match losing streak to the Swiss? Not likely. Fed’s been rolling thus far in part to a relatively easy draw.
Nalbandian and Fish is a bit of a crapshoot the way things are unfolding. Nalbandian should win it on paper but nothing is ever certain with Dave. Both have strong two-handed backhands and both are lucky to get this far. But Nalbandian’s now won 15 straight Tennis Masters Series matches, and I think he gets 16 in three sets.
That all said we’re probably headed for a Fish-Wawrinka final. That even looks bizarre on a computer screen. More bracket busters please.
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