In the first real marquee match of the Indian Wells Tennis Masters, Roger Federer collides Tuesday night with powerful youngster Milos Raonic in an excellent third round battle.
Federer fought off a bout with the flu bug inhabiting the tournament to dismiss Denis Kudla routinely 6-4, 6-1 Sunday night, but the big-serving Raonic figures to be a handful.
“He’s obviously got a good serve, so there is not that much you can do on his serve,” Federer said. “He’s known for his big serve and his big sort of one‑two punch. Against a guy like this you’re obviously going to try to make it as athletic as possible. I’m looking forward to that match. He’s a good player. Sometimes you can help and some it cannot help to never have played a guy before.”
Assuming Federer is flu-free and healthy, the slow courts and experience should tip the scales in favor of Roger. But the Canadian, who blew the chance of facing the Swiss last year losing to Ryan Harrison, is loving the challenge of finally playing one of the all-time greats.
“I have been looking forward to it for a long time, so that opportunity is definitely a big one,” Raonic said. “It’s gonna be interesting. I think we’re both going to be trying to do the same thing to each other, which is pretty much dictate. He’s obviously probably the best guy to ever do that. It’s going to be a great match for myself and try to make the most of it. I know priority number one is going to be try to take care of my serve and build from there.”
While the slow speed should help Federer, if Roger’s off his game Raonic could seize control. If given time, Roanic could simply outslug and outhit Federer. So Roger will have to keep the kid on the move and from setting up his big groundstrokes.
Raonic will also be playing in the biggest stadium he’s ever played in. Remember things didn’t go well in his previous showcase stadium match when he lost to Lleyton Hewitt in a mild upset at the Australian Open.
Former US Open champion and 2011 IW semifinalist Juan Martin Del Potro opens up play Tuesday against the suddenly hot again Fernando Verdasco. Fernando’s quitely seeded 19th this week and on the rise after an Acapulco final last weekend.
Fernando’s countryman Rafael Nadal is on later against Marcel Granollers. A fresh, ferocious looking Rafa destroyed Leo Mayer Sunday, and I expect a similar result Tuesday.
These slow courts really set up well for Nadal and for Novak Djokovic who won today breezing by Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-3.
In the other big result, Tomas Berdych sent Andy Roddick packing 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. From the ground, Roddick made very little headway on the slow courts against the big Czech. And Roddick’s serve just doesn’t hold the weight it used to. Even good friend and Tennis Channel commentator Justin Gimelstob wondered if this was the last time Indian Wells fans would see Roddick in action.
And credit to Berdych who looked ready to gag but was able to close it out convincingly for just his fourth win in ten tries against Roddick.
To finish, Caroline Wozniacki is on against Sofia Arvidsson. Then 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison continues his climb up the ranks against Murray-slayer Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. This will be a huge test for Harrison who plays well against the better players but seems to fall flat in matches he’s favored. Against Garcia-Lopez, Harrison’s the favorite but will be he able to deliver on one of the biggest stages in tennis when he’s expected to win?
In the decimated women’s field, World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who’s already escaped both the upset and flu bugs, faces Julia Goerges. Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic are also on the schedule.
Tennis Channel again has wall-to-wall live TV coverage. Thanks Tennis Channel!
TUESDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 Start 11:00 am
 Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 1:00 PM
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Julia Goerges (GER)
Roberta Vinci (ITA) v Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 4:30 PM
 Marcel Granollers (ESP) v  Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 Milos Raonic (CAN) v  Roger Federer (SUI)
Not Before 8:30 PM
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) OR Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) v Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) OR Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
STADIUM 2 Start 11:00 am
Jamie Hampton (USA) v Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v  Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v  Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
David Nalbandian (ARG) v  Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
Marion Bartoli (FRA) v Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Andy Murray (GBR)/Jamie Murray (GBR) v  Max Mirnyi (BLR)/Daniel Nestor (CAN)
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