Friends and countrymen Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have quite the afternoon ahead. Today at the Tennis Masters Indian Wells the two Swiss first play a men’s quarterfinal then follow with a doubles semifinal match against none other than Rafael Nadal and his partner Marc Lopez.
Starting the day off is the red-hot Novak Djokovic. Against formidable foes, the Serb has lost just six games in three matches and he’s now won 17 straight matches (15-0 in 2011). Today, he’ll run into the uber-talented Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman had the backhand zinging in a straight set win over Andy Roddick, and through four matches he hasn’t lost a set. But that’s going to change today.
Gasquet has a backhand that can give anyone, including Djokovic, trouble, but Novak’s playing to well to let down today. I think Gasquet will avoid a bagel and win more than four games, but this is Djokovic’s match.
Novak’s 3-1 career vs. Gasquet including a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing last fall in Shanghai.
As for the Federer, Wawrinka, common conjecture is that Stan will lay down to his superior. The head-to-head is 7-1 in Federer’s favor. But Wawrinka is quietly putting together his best season (17-3 in 2011) and I think he’ll give Federer fits today. Plus, I think Stan will try to amend for his poor effort against Roger at the Australian. And even though Federer hasn’t dropped a set he just wasn’t as sharp as he could have been in wins over Ryan Harrison and Igor Andreev. Still, I do think Federer gets through, maybe even in three sets.
“We have played against each other on a few occasions now,” Federer said. “Every time it’s been pretty tough, even though in Australia was straight sets and I was able to come out and really take it to Stan, not expect something completely different.
“I think we’re both excited for each other that it’s going well in the singles. He asked me if I wanted to play doubles here and I wasn’t really sure if I should do it. And now we’re doing so well, and he’s ecstatic that I said yes and that it’s going well. So it’s good times this week. I’m really happy for him and I’m looking forward to the match.”
Looking back at yesterday, what an effort by Dr. Ivo, Ivo Karlovic. Ivo played about as well as could from the baseline and really took it to Rafa before losing 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(7).
“You lose a set against Karlovic, and you are under pressure the rest of the games of the match,” said Nadal who improves to 16-0 in odds years at Indian Wells. “I think I played a fantastic second set returning better than ever. In the third, I didn’t have chances. His serve was unstoppable. In the tie-break I was really nervous. I think I returned fantastic in the tie-break, but I didn’t put one first serve on court, so I was really nervous.”
Said Karlovic who spent much of last year on the sidelines with a bad achilles, “Right now I’m a little bit disappointed because it was close; it was only about two points. It could have also went the other way, my way, but it didn’t. But all in all, it was good week for me, so I am happy.”
Like Karlovic, Juan Martin Del Potro also missed a good portion of 2010. Yesterday, the Argentine got a pass into the semifinals thanks to a Tommy Robredo left groin injury.
That means Saturday it’s Del Potro v. Nadal!
“He’s one of the best of the world, for sure,” Nadal said of Delpo. “He’s coming back after one year outside of competition almost. When you are in a difficult situation like he was last year and you come back and you start to win, you are stronger than before because you’re motivated and you want to recover the time that you lost for one year.”
And after the men’s singles today, as mentioned Federer and Nadal will continue their rivalry on the doubles court. Nadal not only leads the series in singles but also is a perfect 2-0 against Federer in doubles play.
In the women’s event, after a tepid tournament the WTA finally get a star-studded primetime match tonight when blonde babes Maria Sharapova faces No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Earlier in the other semii Marion Bartoli battles Yanina Wickmayer.
Tennis Channel will have the men’s quarterfinals plus the Federer-Nadal doubles (I think). ESPN2 is on tonight with the Sharapova-Wozniacki match.
FRIDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 R Gasquet (FRA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
 Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs  M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 6:00 PM
M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 8:00 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
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