Three to See: Williams takes on rival Jankovic; Goffin meets Khachanov

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The rivalry between Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic goes back a dozen years. (AP Photo)

Before each day of play at Indian Wells, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches. For full coverage of the season's first Masters, go to our men’s and women’s tournament pages.

VENUS WILLIAMS [12] VS. JELENA JANKOVIC

Watching this one might give you that 2007 feeling all over again. The rivalry between the 36-year-old American and the 32-year-old Serb goes back a dozen years, and it has produced some good ones in that time. Jankovic beat Venus 6-4 in the third at Wimbledon in 2006, and 7-6 in the third in Charleston in ’07; Venus turned the tables in another third-set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open later that year, and beat JJ 6-4 in the third at the WTA Championships in ’09. Their matches have been close, and so has their head to head: Jankovic leads it 7-6, and she won their last meeting, in Hong Kong in 2015. But Venus, a finalist at the Australian Open, has been the better player of late; she’s ranked 13th to JJ’s 51st. This one should be closer than those numbers would indicate.

Winner: V. Williams


DAVID GOFFIN [11] vs. KAREN KHACHANOV

The words “sophomore slump” could have been coined for what Khachanov, a 20-year-old Russian, has gone through so far in 2017. After climbing the rankings and winning his first title last year, the hard-hitting youngster has received some hard lessons over the first two months of the season. After the Australian Open, he lost in the first round in Montpellier, Rotterdam, Marseille, and Dubai, and was beaten in a fifth-set tiebreaker in a Davis Cup match against Serbia. No wonder Khachanov seemed so pleased and relieved to get past Tommy Robredo in his opener in Indian Wells. Unfortunately, now he’s probably due for another lesson; the 12th-ranked Goffin reached the semis here last year.

Winner: Goffin


ANDY MURRAY [1] vs. VASEK POSPISIL [Q]

The Big 4, in the form of Murray, will make their singles debut in Indian Wells on Saturday. On paper at least, this night match should be a nice way for the world No. 1 to ease into the tournament. He’s 4-0 against Pospisil, and hasn’t dropped a set in any of those matches. But Murray has suffered his share of surprise defeats in Indian Wells in the past; he’s lost his opener three times, and this is the only mandatory Masters 1000 he has never won. Pospisil, now ranked 129, has struggled over the last two years, but a two-win Davis Cup performance last month may have given him a boost.

Winner: Murray




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