Indian Wells QF Pick & Pans: Federer Flying High While Djokovic Searches For Game
by Sean Randall | March 13th, 2014, 10:48 am

Looking at the men’s quarterfinal lineup, did anyone get all eight? I know I didn’t. I had Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and that’s it. But that’s the new tour, it’s like the Wild West these days: expect the unexpected.

The biggest early round shock was Rafael Nadal’s draw-busting loss to Alexandr Dolgopolov. And that result really opens things up for Federer who now won’t even have to deal with Australian Open champ and countryman Stan Wawrinka, an upset victim Wednesday to Kevin Anderson.

Andy Murray has never played that well in Indian Wells and yesterday his poor form finally caught up to him as Milos Raonic took him out.

Wawrinka has been living the high life since his big win in Melbourne, and I think in his first tournament since he’s now feeling the weight of that win. Welcome to you new life, Stan!

And while I didn’t see Novak Djokovic’s late night win over Marin Cilic, I have to ask, under the Becker plan what has been his best, most impressive win so far? Very mediocre.

“I was composed and mentally calm, regardless of the score line,” said Djokovic. “I just accepted the fact that he came out of the blocks better than I did. He was very aggressive, not missing at all, serving incredibly fast and accurate. I couldn’t do much really. I was forced to back up.

“I believed that I could come back. The second set was a whole new story. I reset myself and told myself it was the start of the match. I forgot about the first set and the second and third went really well. It was the intensity I want to have and I hope to keep it up.”

However after all the turmoil and unrest, as we get closer to the Sunday final I think we should fall back to the norm, with the favorites getting through. So with that, here are my quarterfinal picks for today.

Alexandr Dolgoplov v Milos Raonic
Both guys are enjoying their best weeks at this event. The streaky Dolgoplov is really in the zone after his big win over Nadal and then a solid effort yesterday over Fabio Fognini. And when he’s in the “peak area”, he’s awfully tough to play and awfully tough to beat.

Raonic is also playing some good tennis. With his height and serve he’s dangerous anywhere, and I think the light air of the desert really helps that weaponry. And watching the end of his Murray win, boy did Milos look scary good.

But I have to say this match rests with Dolgoplov.

These two have never met and I think that plays a big role here. Alex has faced several of these “big bomber” types on the tour, but Milos has never played anyone like Alex – because there’s only one Alex! And I think he’ll have the crowd, the motivation from the homeland and like I said he’ll have the element of surprise.

“I think both of us is really about keeping one another out of rhythm,” Raonic said looking ahead. “For me, it’s about keeping the points shorter. For him, it’s about throwing stuff you wouldn’t expect. I think the most important thing, obviously my serve. And the beauty of that is nobody can affect me.

“Most important thing I think is going to be about controlling the center of the court, sort of stepping up, and when I do get ahead in the points, staying ahead,” he said. “But it’s all very situational stuff. I think dictating and imposing my game on him rather than him imposing on me is the most important thing.”

Dolgoplov won’t be wary of the big man across the net. The 25-year-old’s already had some wins over the bigger guys this year – he beat Ivo Karlovic in Sydney and a few weeks ago chopped down Jerzy Janowicz in Acapulco. And he’s beaten Sam Querrey, Anderson, Cilic and other big men in the past.

For me though, in this I look at how is the better player right now. And even though he just beat Murray, I can’t believe Raonic is playing at his very best since, as he says, this is his first healthy tournament of the year. While Dolgoplov beat Ferrer a few weeks ago, beat Nadal and has to be full of confidence.

So with that, I’ll go with the man from the Ukraine…
The pick: Dolgoplov in three

Roger Federer v Kevin Anderson
Obviously Federer is the favorite in this one. 2.5 months into the season you could make the case he’s playing better than anyone, something few of us would have believed six months ago when Tommy Robredo was dropping the hammer on the Swiss legend at the US Open.

But the new racquet, the healthy back and the Stefan Edberg influence are all mixing together to produce a really nice cocktail right now. How long can it last?

After wins over Dmitry Tursunov and Tommy Haas, tonight though the task toughens and Kevin Anderson. The 6-foot-8 South African is playing some of the best tennis of his career. Armed with one of the most formidable serves in the game, Anderson is coming off finals in Delray and Acapulco, and this week he’s got wins over Grand Slam champions Lleyton Hewitt and Wawrinka. But I think his runs ends today.

“I have to come out and focus on my game and just do what I have been doing,” said Anderson. “I feel like I have been playing good tennis, and I’m going to definitely continue that tomorrow.”

These two met just last fall when Federer cruised over Anderson in straight sets at the Paris Indoors. And I expect something similar tonight. Though anytime you play someone with that big of a serve in light air, there’s danger.

“I know how tough he is,” Federer said of Anderson. “He’s the best here usually in the States, outdoors on the hard courts. That’s when he’s had his biggest success. I’m aware that this is not going to be an easy match just because he’s not ranked in the Top 10.”

The only pauses I have here is if a) Anderson gets on one of those rolls; and, b) the 32-year-old Federer played four sets of tennis on Wednesday (singles and doubles), so perhaps his body isn’t fully recovered.

That said, with Nadal and Murray out and Djokovic wobbly, I think Federer recognizes that is too great an opportunity to pass up. And I’m not going against him here.
The pick: Federer in two

As for the women’s matches, I like Li Na and Sloane who seems to be coming around here – she must think this is a Slam! So I’ll side with the American in a close one.

Tomorrow’s quarters are Djokovic-Benneteau and Isner-Gulbis.

Tennis Channel has full coverage starting at 2pm ET.


STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
WTA – [1] N Li (CHN) vs [12] D Cibulkova (SVK)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – [28] A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs [10] M Raonic (CAN)

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – [20] F Pennetta (ITA) vs [17] S Stephens (USA)
ATP – [1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [17] K Anderson (RSA) vs [7] R Federer (SUI)
WTA – [8] L Hradecka (CZE) / J Zheng (CHN) vs [5] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND)

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73 Comments for Indian Wells QF Pick & Pans: Federer Flying High While Djokovic Searches For Game

RZ Says:

Too bad we don’t get to see Fed vs. Stan. That would have been interesting.

I really thought Cilic was going to pull the upset yesterday but he came down to earth.

SG1 Says:

Prime Federer ate big servers for breakfast. This will be a good test for him. I’ve felt that Federer’s return of serve has been what’s set him back over the past 4 or 5 years.

SG1 Says:

Agree with RZ. A Fed-Stan quarter would have been cool to watch.

Interesting beginning to the year. Both Rafa and Novak aren’t playing lights out so far (at least by their standards). Murray still looks tentative after his surgery. Could all these circumstances coincide to allow Federer one more great year? Only time will tell but I suspect that Federer’s renewed confidence will lead to something special this year.

I’ve been writing Federer off the last couple of years but it does appear that the new racket, coach and good health are making a huge difference.

Gordon Says:

8 guys left and only 2 single digit seeds among them? I can’t remember the last time there were so many upsets in the early rounds.

Sean – One of these days Raonic is going to deliver you a world of prediction pain.

If he beats Dogopolov, unless it’s by a blowout, I imagine you’ll pick Fed to beat him in the semis. If he beats Fed, unless it’s by a blowout, I imagine you’ll choose Djokovic to win the final.

Of course this is all avoided should you be right and the DogMan comes out on top. But one day Milos is going to be the scary guy who lives up to his promise.

Just saying…

Sean Randall Says:

Gordon, 100% agree. All things being equal I would have picked Milos here. As I wrote I just don’t think he’s “tournament tough” yet. Otherwise, yes, Milos should win and absolutely could beat Roger and even Novak.

He’s going to win Slams. It’s a question of how many.

RZ Says:

Gordon and Sean, Milos has done great this tournament, but I agree with Sean that he’s probably not “tournament tough” yet having just come back from a foot injury. Then again, if his serve is clicking, he could ace his way to the title.

Ben Pronin Says:

I do not think Raonic will win any slams.

Translated Age Says:

Another game for MILOSH!!!!!!!!

Look for a Milos three-set win with at least one tiebreak. Says:

I guess it is time to have a couple or so of new faces in the top ten. We can’t have the same people winning all the time. Yes, others are getting wiser!!

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, as I say, then who will be winning them in four years? Dimitrov? Thiem? Vesely?

I have to think Raonic shares in those spoils.

skeezer Says:

I could see Roanic winning a Wimby, but is has some weaknesses he needs to shore up.

James Says:

I think Raonic can win a grand slam title in 3-4 years when the big four or big three aren’t that strong anymore. I don’t think Dimitrov is going to dominate the tour like a Federer or Nadal or Djokovic. I don’t think we’ll have anyone dominating the tour when the big four are gone.

We’ll have guys like Dimitrov, Tomic, Raonic, Janowicz sharing the big titles. I think Nishikori will also have his chance then. I don’t see any of these players dominate the other and the field consistently.

Bad Knee Rules Says:

Ljubicic is doing good job, Raonic in three.

Gordon Says:

There’s something in the water in Canada these days.

We all have predicted great (except Ben who is hedging bets and predicting good) things for Milos, and Eugenie Bouchard looks like the real deal on the women’s side.

However, I still think – if he can go a long stretch without an injury – that Pospisil is going to come into his own. He might even eclipse Milos.

That’s what time is for – to only tell.

Bad Knee Rules Says:

Dolgoplolov in two.

tfouto Says:

Thiem, Dolgopolov, Dimitrov are one step up then Raonic.

Gulbis is a shame that is not on top. The potential is incredible.

tfouto Says:

Thiem is not there yet. But he will be, for sure.

pigoonse Says:

Bravo Dolgopolov!

Raonic not quite there yet.

steve-o Says:

Fantastic tennis from Dolgopolov. He won 5 games on the trot from 0-3 down in the second set.

Whoever said that big servers had an overwhelming edge on this court was wrong. The smart returning and variety of Dolgopolov totally threw Raonic. Apart from the third set of his loss to Federer at last year’s AO, I’ve never seen Raonic’s serve disintegrate like that.

If Federer makes it through Anderson (not a foregone conclusion by any means), he’ll have his hands full with Dolgopolov.

Sean Randall Says:

I actually rate Thiem higher than any of them.

tfouto Says:

Sean, I agree with you. Thiem will probably be better then any of them. Altough is too young yet and it’s not on the same level then Dolgopolov or Dimitrov.

Again Gulbis is one of the most underrated players. I guess first underrated by himself…

pigoonse Says:

Fantastic Return Game. Picked off the serves with such skill. Stands inside the baseline on the Raonic serve. What a brilliant performance from the underrated underdog. OMG what freaky talent.

Congratulations Alexandr Dolgopolov!

pigoonse Says:

And Congratulations to Li Na who also won today in the WTA IW Semi-final.

Beat Dominika Cibulkova again but Domini is getting closer.

Sloane Stephens/Flavia Pennetta semi-final match on now – in case anyone here was wondering.

pigoonse Says:

Looks like no one here was wondering about IW WTA results, otherwise someone would have told me I was ahead of myself.

Correction to post @ 7:10 pm

It is still Quarter-finals today. Sorry

Did not mean to forget Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep still need to play!

Semi-finals must be tomorrow, but the schedule isn’t out yet.

I pick Li Na and red hot Simona Halep for the final. But I would love Radwanska to have a chance at the Final here.

Peep Says:

Who wins? Djokovic or benneteau? Does julien have a shot?

metan Says:

Wow, the ancient guy Dolgo is in the semifinal. Congrats Dolgo..OK may be this time the trophy is in your hand. Imagine. Beating Rafa, Roger if he is in the semi and Nole at final. The weeks has changed so fast.

SG1 Says:

Agree with Ben (and I’m Canadian). Don’t Raonic winning slams. He just seems a little awkward on the court. Richard Krajicek was a big guy but he looked smooth and coordinated. Raonic has big weapons but I think he lacks the fluidity to win a major. Hope he proves me wrong though. Says:

I’m on Sean’s side in this great X Schism. Someone will be winning Slams in 3-4 years. Raonic, despite his major weaknesses, has a very good chance to be one of them.
We are looking at a REAL weak era in 3 years, unless someone totally new pops up.

the DA Says:

Agree about Raonic and slam. I don’t think Wimbledon either. He has the weapons but his movement can still be exploited. He looks like he allows himself to get more frazzled and mutters quite a bit lately – he used to remain so cool.

In other news, it looks like a sirocco has just arrived at IW. Reminds me of USO 2012. Balls and bags are blowing around. That makes the next match very interesting. Who will cope with wind better? I was going to skip the match but I’m intrigued now.

pigoonse Says:


Good questions. Have been thinking about the Djokovic/Benneteau match tomorrow. Benneteau knocked out a young Nole back in 2006 in Indian Wells. It’s nervous times for a Djokovic fan and tomorrow will be more of the same until Nole shows me different. Hope I am wrong. Still, it he should come through. Julien Benneteau won’t make it easy.

Novak in 3 sets.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

Looks like Roger is a bit tired. Not moving as well he did in other matches. Let’s see if he can pick up his level as the match moves on.

Humble Rafa Says:

Looks like the Swiss Number 1 is throwing the lower ranked fellow a bone by playing doubles with him.

Polo Says:

The next generation of players after the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic period looks very weak indeed. That means Nadal, Djokovic, (maybe Murray) will continue to keep winning majors for the next five years.

Kimmi Says:

anderson has a very big serve. he will be tough to break

Kimmi Says:


Vinod Says:

Hi any live stream link available ?

Kimmi Says:

Break, another break and another. no contest now!

Polo Says:

I did not think it would be this way. Very happy watching Federer play lately. Says:

@Vinod, usually ESPN3.COM streams it live. Chk this:

Seriously, I thought Anderson was going to give Fed a tough time but obviously not. Great job, friend

kjb Says:

Clinical by Fed tonight. That new racquet is paying dividends. Dolgopolov is playing lights out right now, should be an awesome match. His return of serves against Milos were absolutely ridiculous.

Allez Fed!!

Mr. Larvey Says:

Wow, that was an old school performance from Federer. Haven’t seen him play like that for a while. Great stuff!

Michael Says:

Both the matches have turned out to be tame affairs with Roger making light work of Anderson and Dolgopolov of Raonic which was surprising in a sense as many were expecting a tough match. But it just goes to show the confidence these players enjoy in the last stages of this tournament. Roger Vs Dologopolov should be very interesting to watch considering the later is on a roll and raring to go. Still I will put my money on Roger to get to the finals due to the experience that he is carrying with him which should keep him in good stead. Of all his exploits, Dologopolov is relatively inexperienced and that may prove to be his undoing.

steve-o Says:

Federer masterclass! Totally neutralized the serve and power of Anderson with his variety. Anderson has been playing very well of late, so not an easy opponent, especially after getting confidence from beating the AO champ.

The Federer-Dolgopolov battle should be really fun. Not sure how Federer will approach the match since Dolgopolov is very unpredictable and throws in a bit of everything. Says:

Fed probably needs to drop the doubles at this point. He might need the rest!! What do I know, anyway? LOL.

Kimmi Says:

To me, Kevin Anderson looks like another big serve, big forehand. The moment his serve was returned he struggled a lot. In the second set he could not serve as big and as accurate, I see Federer did not have to do much there.

Obviously Federer played well but Anderson helped him by struggling to return his serve. He won 89% of his second serve.

I actually think Federer played well yesterday, against Haas. The match had a lot of shot making.

But always good to see him winning without too much drama. Next match should be interesting.

skeezer Says:

Nice to see larry elison( rafans say he is rafa’s bff, lmao )
Inviting the tennis great Tommy Haas to watch Feds match. Why the interest with Nadull out?
Obviously, why? Its the GOAT. Who wants to not watch, and admire the very best tennis has ever to offer. Kudos to you Larry!

skeezer Says:

Awesome display at the IW. Anyone watch the Bryans vs Isner/Sam? Great great doubles match if you play tennis.
So much great tennis to watch here, even though the poster armani whoever is out, the pure exciting tennis remains! Great stuff at the 5th Slam.

skeezer Says:

Keep in mind, despite the draw, the type of tourney, the h2h, the weather, the wind, the players, the time zone, the relationship issues if any, the injuries, or supposed, or any other excuses that come up with the tour players, Fed is, again, in another SEMI -FINAL.
Fantastic all tme stat!

andrea Says:

pretty clean win for federer… he seemed a bit testy tonight. still amazing to see him return all these big server bombs like it was nothing. couple great points where he just put his racquet down and seemed to flick a winner onto the other side without a lot of thought.

i’m sure he’s chomping to get to the final…now that nadal is out, he must know his chances are good.

dog and fed should be entertaining!

Okiegal Says:

Fed can win this now since Rafa isn’t in the way. Don’t you know he was turning hand springs when Rafa got eliminated from the field. His back is clearly well and he is playing great. With Novak having a few problems with his game, this title is Rogers for the taking……imo!

uups Says:

my guy!

Giles Says:

March 14th 12.52 am. So obsessed with Faderer hadn’t noticed Rafa out of the tourney.

Giles Says:
hey skeezer. Rafa is out of IW but still a guest at Larry’s home!

Orkneyfudge Says:

Apparently, Tommy Haas is very good friends with Larry E and has also stayed at his house.

Giles Says:

^^^Yes. He did this year.

Klaas Says:

Dear Giles,
This tournament shows the future of tennis in 4-5 years time: tall big servers with big forehands, who move reasonably well. Believe me, by then you’ll wish you could have Federer back!

Giles Says:

^^^ OK. :)

Translated Age Says:

House Troll is still obsessed with the GOAT even though he’s out of the tournament and won’t play until Miami.

IW is on Roger’s racquet now. It will be his first 1000 win in almost two years so relax and enjoy it.

Bom Kelvin Says:

Yeah Rafa is still at Larry’s house to be his bitch. LOL. No wonder Rafa is not ready to marry Xisca after being together for so long.

Translated Age Says:

pfft. doesn’t deserve a substantive response.


James Says:

Larry Ellison loves tennis. He’ll be there to watch Stan, Federer, Haas, Nadal, Djokovic, anyone when he has the time. But Rafa is his favorite tennis player. And he considers RF to be the greatest player of this era.

Margot Says:

Just emailed mod. Provocative and offensive. Shouldn’t be any where near a tennis site.

skeezer Says:

True. Larry has done great things for the tour. That IW site is amazing. He was watching the Bryans vs Isner/Querry last nite ( which was a great fun match btw ). For sure a fan of the game.

nadalista Says:

@Margot @ March 14th, 2014 at 11:45 am, good luck with that! Some of us Rafans long came to the conclusion this sort of Anti-Rafa vulgarity is acceptable on this site.

Giles Says:

@Margot. Thank you very much. Hope they act accordingly.

Giles Says:

@nadalista. It’s called favouritism!

Translated Age Says:

ditto. nadalista nailed it yet again. IMO, it is even encouraged with the likes of article headings such as Nadal wetting himself.

Okiegal Says:

@Nadalista and @Translated Age

I agree and apparently at other sites too. Someone on TX posted a link about his girlfriend’s a$$. It was a pic of her and Rafa on the beach, her in a bikini showing her backside. It was in poor taste to say the least……just another little dig…..sigh!


Good for you on sending the e-mail! Hopefully they will take heed. Their guidelines say so! Thanks!!

Translated Age Says:

Okie. That’s terrible. Please forward the link of these pics to me immediately so I can judge for myself!


nadalista Says:


@TA, you are incorrigible……….

Peep Says:

I think Novak is not on his game but still will have enough to beat Julien today. He had a decent scare with Marin.

Giles Says:

TA. In the words of JJ “how many times”?

Translated Age Says:

Sorry nadalista/giles, just trying to make sure there are no conspirators here! :)))

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