INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.—There’s nothing like a good order of play, is there? As you scan your eyes across, names and matches just keeping pop out at you.
“Wow, Gulbis-Tipsy on Court 3?”
“I didn’t even know Wozniacki was playing today.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that Jamie Hampton Su-Wei Hsieh match at 11.”
You know you won’t have time to catch even half of them, but that’s OK, they’re almost as much fun to anticipate on paper.
OOPs don’t come much more packed than Saturday’s at Indian Wells, and tennis tickets don’t get much better. Or at least grounds passes don’t get much better. The main stadium may have Roger Federer this afternoon, but the day’s most intruiging action is on the outer courts. Here’s a look at four of the better matches that will go off a little later today. It’s sunny and warm, but only in the 70s today. Hopefully that makes for tennis that’s worthy of its schedule.
Jerzy Janowicz vs. David Nalbandian
This is one of those matches where you’re thankful that Indian Wells has Hawk-Eye on every court. But if I’m the BNP, I’m also having my best umpires and line judges out for this one. Janowicz and Nalbandian by themselves are responsible for the two most notorious on-court blow-ups of the past year.
As for the match itself, the two have never played. On paper, Janowicz is the favorite. He’s 22 years old and ranked No. 24; Nalbandian is 31 and ranked currently ranked No. 93. But it could be close. The Argentine likes these courts, and played well enough here last year to reach the quarterfinals and nearly beat Rafael Nadal.
Pick: Janowicz in three sets
Ana Ivanovic vs. Taylor Townsend
Townsend is the story of the tournament so far. This USTA-shunned 16-year-old and former world junior No. 1 beat a woman ranked more than 300 spots above in her first match. Now she’ll have to go even higher to beat Ivanovic. Ana isn’t the world-beater she was once was, but she’s still in the Top 20, and she’s been a champion and a runner-up here. The crowd will be with Townsend, but they won’t be against Ivanovic.
Pick: Ivanovic in two sets
Richard Gasquet vs. Bernard Tomic
This is a battle of two generations of talented underachievers. Gasquet won their only previous matchup, in two close sets last fall indoors in Bangkok. It will be a different scene in the elements of Indian Wells today. Gasquet has quietly made himself into a figure of some respectability over the last couple of years—can you believe he’s currently ranked No. 10? Tomic is working to try to do the same thing, to make inroads beyond his native Australia and make himself into a consistent presence on tour. He’s won a tournament this year and held match points on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Marseille. Who knows, maybe Bernie’s best hope is to grow up to be like Reeshard.
Pick: Gasquet in three sets
Rafael Nadal vs. Ryan Harrison
Rafa is the only member of the Top 4 who hasn’t taught Harrison a lesson thus far. But this one is no sure thing; the world awaits how Nadal’s knees will react to their first hard-court test. Indian Wells, after all, is where he said his problems began last season. Harrison was happy with his play in his first-round win over Go Soeda, and hopefully he’ll come out swinging with more confidence, and accuracy, than he did against Novak Djokovic in Australia. Rafa seemed a little testy in his practice yesterday, but if he’s in anything like the form he was in against David Ferrer in Acapulco, he’ll take care of business tonight.
Pick: Nadal in two sets