Indians at Indian Wells: It’s no surprise that Somdev Devvarman came through qualifying–he was the second seed and won both his matches in straight sets. Rohan Bopanna, on the other hand–he may have been the lowest ranked player in the qualifying draw.
Yet, after a tough three-setter against Peter Polansky and a tight two-tiebreak match against top seed Daniel Brands, Bopanna finds himself in the main draw. This is the first time he’s made it this far in singles at a 1000-level event. He’ll face wild card Bernard Tomic in the first round. If he wins, he faces none other than Viktor Troicki, the man who he pushed to five sets in Davis Cup last week.
Opportunities for qualifiers: The 96-player draw is unusual, and it gives a big opportunity to qualifiers and others who just missed the cut. In most draws, non-seeded players can show up just to face Rafael Nadal in the first round. Here, you’re guaranteed to get at least one match against someone outside the top 30.
A couple of players in position to take advantage of the format are Ryan Sweeting and Matthew Ebden. Sweeting plays the Spainard Marcel Granollers in the first round and would then face Juan Monaco, one of the most beatable seeds in the tourney. Ebden battles Mischa Zverev for a chance to play Tommy Robredo.
Match of the day: The top half of the draw is in action, meaning a lot of qualifiers get to play their third match in three days. That doesn’t apply, however, to the marquee event: Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Radek Stepanek. Stepanek can be a challenge for any player, and that might be particularly true for Del Potro, who has faced a barrage of aggressive big servers in Memphis and Delray Beach.
If I were setting the schedule, the undercard would be the matchup of Richard Berankis and Alex Bogomolov Jr. Bogie is playing well, having just won the title in Dallas and qualified here, and of course Berankis has big potential.
Elsewhere: Speaking of big potential, Grigor Dimitrov isn’t going to display it this week. Seeded #1 in Sarajevo, he lost in the first round to Karol Beck. That means no semifinal matchup with Dmitri Tursunov, though the Russian is through to the second round thanks to an injury to Igor Sijsling.
Miami wild cards: We’re already talking about the next tournament, apparently. Miami has given main draw slots to James Blake, Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Milos Raonic, and Tomic. I’m a bit surprised by the love for Tomic stateside; yes, he’s young and talented, but he’s only a fan favorite until the fans get to know him. After he showed up in Dallas and tanked a match, you have to wonder why the Miami tournament is doing this for him.
After all, I’m guessing Evgeny Donskoy is available.
See you tomorrow!