Nadal through: After Tommy Robredo withdrew, leaving Juan Martin del Potro with a place in the semis, that left only one men’s singles match on the slate at Indian Wells yesterday. While Ivo Karlovic had never beaten Rafael Nadal, he had taken a set in every meeting. Last night was no different.
In fact, we were excruciatingly close to an upset. It took a 9-7 third-set tiebreak to decide the match in the Spaniard’s favor. Karlovic got that far by saving six of eight break points, while he converted the only one he earned, at 5-5 in the first set.
What amazes me about one-dimensional servers like Karlovic and John Isner is how their overall serving numbers aren’t always that great. Sure, they rack up the ace totals–Ivo hit 23 last night–but Nadal won 78% of first serve points yesterday against Karlovic’s 74%. On all service points, Nadal won 80%, Karlovic 65%. Of course, Rafa is responsible for some of that, but it’s not uncommon. While the match turned on a single point or two, Nadal won 55% of total points, a figure you sometimes see in a 6-3, 6-3 match.
All that said, the first set showed a more versatile and confident Karlovic that I’m accustomed to. He still wouldn’t be inside the top 100 without the serve, but he as aggressive as ever getting to the net, and would follow up serves with strong forehands in both directions. I still don’t particularly like watching him play, but it’s not hard to understand how he upset so many higher-ranked players this week.
Two more: After so many great matchups in the tournament, the quarters are something of a letdown. Starting the session today is Novak Djokovic vs. Richard Gasquet. Six months ago, I would’ve been excited about that, wondering if the Frenchman might be able to pull the upset. The way Novak is playing this week, you wonder whether he’ll pull out another bagel.
Later in the afternoon, Roger Federer looks to extend his dominance over doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka, who managed a three-set upset of Tomas Berdych two days ago. Wawrinka has only beaten Federer on clay, and there’s no reason to expect today to be different.
Sportsbooks give Gasquet about a 12% chance of advancing; Wawrinka a 22% shot. My system says the same for the Swiss, but is more optimistic for Gasquet, setting his number at 18%. Then again, my system only uses results from before the tournament; it doesn’t know that Djokovic has only dropped six games in three matches thus far.
Doubles: The upsets continue, as the doubles specialists are all gone. Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse defeated Bopanna/Qureshi in a 10-8 super-tiebreak. All four of their matches have gone to a super-tiebreak, and three have ended at 10-8. (The other one finished at 10-7.) They are in the final.
The other finalist will be determined in what sounds more like an exhibition lineup than an ATP doubles semifinal: Federer/Wawrinka vs. Nadal/Lopez. It will be interesting to see how the Swiss players perform; they’ll get some rest, but they’ll basically play two matches back-to-back. Fortunately for those of us with subscriptions, tennistv.com will broadcast the match.
See you tomorrow!