Three to See, Indian Wells: March 10
INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.—Weather-wise, Sunday looks like it will be the brightest day of the weekend here, though that isn’t quite true of the OOP; yesterday's offered more. But in tennis the memorable matches can come anytime, and often when you least expect them. Even after a week in the desert, we’re still in the opening stages of the leisurely BNP. Only today will Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro, among others, make their 2013 debuts. With his walkover against Michael Llodra yesterday, Milos Raonic won’t play his first singles match until Tuesday, a full eight days into the event.
Here’s a look at three of the more interesting match-ups on what should be a warm, but not too warm, and sunny Sunday in Indian Wells.
Mardy Fish vs. Bobby Reynolds
Last night we saw the return of Rafael Nadal to hard courts; this morning Mardy Fish will follow him onto the main stadium to play his first singles match of any sort since he withdrew from a round of 16 match against Roger Federer at last year’s U.S. Open because of concerns about his ongoing heart condition. Fish told USA Today last week that he thought a lot about retirement in the intervening months, and that he’s been living with a degree of fear from day to day about his health. Here’s wishing that the 2008 Indian Wells finalist can overcome those fears and play a good match today in his return against his countryman. Fish won their only meeting, indoors, in three sets, back in Memphis in 2008.
Pick: Fish in three sets
Juan Martin del Potro vs. Nikolay Davydenko
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that these two met each other in the final of the season-ending championships in London, in 2009. Davydenko won that match, but del Potro will be favored in this one. The Argentine is 24 years old and ranked No. 7; the Russian is 31 and ranked No. 42. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a baseline shootout, pitting del Potro’s bombs against Davydenko’s pistol shots. With a good crowd on intimate Court 2, this one has an equal chance of catching fire or flaming out.
Pick: Del Potro in two sets
Marion Bartoli vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Bartoli and Kuznetsova will play the second of the night matches, which means, judging from the number of people who stuck around to see local girl Sloane Stephens lose last night, it could be pretty dead in the main stadium by the time these two non-Americans take the court. Those who do stay could see an entertaining match. Bartoli and Kuznetsova are both veteran shotmakers, they’ve each been a finalist here, and their head to head is a close 3-2 in favor of the Russian. Kuznetsova won their last match, in Doha earlier this year, but it’s the manic twitches and rituals of Bartoli that are guaranteed to provide the entertainment.
Pick: Bartoli in three sets