Before each day's play at Indian Wells, we'll preview a pair of must-see matches. Our breakdowns will also include each players' UTR. What is UTR? Go to our Tennis Magazine feature and learn more.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) - ATP No. 10, UTR No. 15 (15.50)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) - ATP No. 58, UTR No. 77 (15.05)
Call me crazy, but I have a gut feeling that this match will be Auger-Aliassime’s official coming-out party. The hard courts at Indian Wells play as slow as any on tour. The tournament also changed its official ball from years past, and the new optic green sphere has a much heavier felt and fluffs up very quickly. This will only help Felix, whose weight of shot is already up there with some of the best in the world.
If you haven't seen FAA yet, this is as good an opportunity as any. You will be amazed at how hard Auger-Aliassime hits the ball—and then there's his opponent, who had a coming-out party of his own at the Australian Open. Tsitsipas defeated Roger Federer in a fourth-rounder to remember on his way to the semifinals. Federer earned some revenge last week in Dubai, where he won his 100th title, but hardware will soon be coming the 20-year-old's way.
Tsitsipas has the game to make an extended run at Indian Wells, but this match could be the one that trips him up. Auger-Aliassime has defeated Tsitsipas three times on the ITF Junior Circuit. This is their first meeting on the big stage, and it won’t be the last. Tsitsipas will have experience on his side, but Auger-Aliassime is primed and ready for his big moment. Don't be surprised if the 18-year-old Canadian plays the match of his young life and takes out the Greek sensation.
Danielle Collins (USA) - WTA No. 25, UTR No. 65 (12.73)
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) - WTA No. 56, UTR No. 143 (12.43)
I asked Danielle Collins who she was set to play next and she responded, “I don’t give a Flip.” I checked the draw, and wouldn't you know it, her opponent is Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens. It seems like everyone has penciled the surging American into a second-round match against Naomi Osaka, but this second-rounder will not be a cakewalk.
Flipkens will frustrate Collins with her all-court game, excellent backhand slice and consistency. She is a phenomenal doubles player who will have no problem finishing points at the net. I expect Flipkens, who has already played doubles and singles this week, to come out on fire and take the first set. But look for the pro-American crowd to get behind the feisty Collins and carry her to a tough three-set victory. Then, and only then, should we discuss Osaka—who has a tricky second-rounder herself, against Kristina Mladenovic.