The Indian Wells draw has been released. The bottom half of the draw is much more fun-filled, but also features more landmines, for Fed in particular.
As for DelPo, it could have been worse, but it could also have been a lot better. A quick analysis of DelPo’s draw:
- R1: (BYE)
- R2: Qualifier
- R3: A possibly resurgent Fer Verdasco.
- R4: Assuming he reaches R4, DelPo would most likely face Ferru. This is a bad match-up. I liked DelPo’s chances better when the world no. 5 was Tsonga
- QF: *If* DelPo played well and defeated Ferru, then he’d face a likely QF with Fed.
So DelPo faces a big mountain in his quest to defend those SF points from last year. The variables here are the extent of DelPo’s fatigue (he’s played 3 straight tournys in February) and his ability to adjust to the slower courts in Indian Wells. There is a slight chance he could lose a chunk of the ranking points from last year. I hope he reaches at least the QFs here. Just for comparison’s sake, last year’s draw for DelPo was Stepanek –> Ljubicic (defending champion) –> Dolgopolov –> Kohlschreiber –> Robredo (w/o).
Other potential early-round matches to watch:
- Cedrik-Marcel Stebe vs. Fer Verdasco in R2: If no. 79-ranked Stebe defeats Ryan Sweeting in R1, he would play Fer. Stebe has a very pretty game with solid point construction. He held his ground against Novak in Dubai, and I’d like to see him play well in IW. The Stebe-Verdasco match could be one to watch.
- Fed vs. Raonic in R3: I’d like Fed to quash the “Milos is going to win a Slam this year” brouhaha. Otherwise, for Milosh fans, this match would be the barometer for how well his game actually stacks up against the top 4. Although I personally think he needs to test his game against a top 15 player before anyone even talks about the top 4.
- Nalby vs Cilic in R2: If Nalby defeats Potito Starace in R1, he could face a preview of the Davis Cup QF in Indian Wells against Cilic. Cilic is making his way back from injury, while Nalby leads the H2H against Cilic 3-0. A deep run in IW could help Nalby lift his ranking from no. 74 to reach the no. 56 cutoff for the Olympics this year.
I don’t know what DelPo did to alienate American tourny directors, but they’ve issued slights to him in the past, whether it’s scheduling consecutive daytime matches on non-center court at his return to the USO in ’11 (that they chose instead to schedule a frankly tedious Roddick-Sock match at Arthur Ashe only twisted the dagger of the insult). Now comes the Indian Wells tournament. Here is the official promotional material:
It’s a V-formation of the top 10 players. Upon closer examination, you’ll see the top 10 formation (minus DelPo) is joined by John Isner and Fer Verdasco in the background. Has Isner taken DelPo’s place in the top 10? Apologies to Fer and Isner, but why exactly are they there?
Then behind the main group, there is a line of promising players, some of whom have made names for themselves through big performances on the grandest stages. Bernie and Kei both fall under the group who’ve had impressive GS runs. Milos has his 3 titles and may be a scare factor in the line-up. But Harrison? What moved the marketing folk at IW to include Ryan Harrison in this photo? I suppose it’s the old saying, “When in Rome…”
Overall, the inclusion of Isner and Harrison here can only be explained by the fact that they’re American and this is an American tournament. They may as well have included Roddick, Querrey, Sweeting and all the like — you know, if you’re going to be obvious, be super-obvious. In any case, there’s a huge Latin American population in Miami, so hopefully the publicity at the Miami Masters will be more spread out in two weeks time.