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TTT – Indian Wells QFs All Set

So we are down to the last 8 at Indian Wells, the first Masters Series event of the year on the ATP Tour. We have some predictable names (Nadal, Fed, Djokovic, Del Potro), and some surprises (Karlovic, Robredo, Gasquet). Let’s look at the 4 matchups:

Nadal – Karlovic — The Giant (6’10”) vs the Clay King, who now has titles at all 4 slam events after taking the US Open last September. Nadal was injured at the Aussie, losing in the QFs, took almost 2 months off, and then came back last week to play Davis Cup for Spain, and even played a dead rubber match, just for extra practice I suppose. Meanwhile, Karlovic has seen his ranking plummet this year, as he had only 3 wins this year coming into Indian Wells, and only one win against a top 50 opponent (beat Kohlschreiber at Doha, 1st tourney of the year). Then he comes to the Southern California desert and beats David Ferrer, Gilles Simon, and Albert Montanes – a top 10 guy and two top 35 guys – without losing a set!  He’s 32 now, but can still serve bombs, and has served notice here that he can also still serve upsets…though I expect that upset streak to end today – Nadal in 2 sets.

Del Potro – Robredo — DP is looking more and more like the guy who won the US Open in 2009, as he has handled a rather formidable draw with relative ease so far – beating Stepanek, Ljubicic (2010 winner here), Dolgopolov, and Kohlschreiber. Robredo has served notice that he’s not ready to fade away quietly yet, as the Spanish speedster, now almost 29 yrs old, remains in the top 30 (ranked 28) and just annihilated local Southern Californian Sam Querry 6-1, 6-3 in the Round of 16. I see DP’s power being too much for Tommy here though…the Argentine in 2 sets.

Federer – Wawrinka — This is a VERY interesting matchup for Friday. The Swiss #’s 1 & 2 are playing doubles here and are still alive in the draw, playing together today for a spot in the semi’s. Tomorrow they resume their singles rivalry, which has been tremendously one-sided so far, Fed winning 7 of their 8 matchups, only losing at  Monte Carlo in 2009. They also just met at the Aussie this year, Fed destroying Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, after Stanislas had just ‘upset’ Roddick the round prior. Here Wawrinka comes off a legitimate upset, taking Berdych out 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Round of 16. Federer is coming off a win over Ryan Harrison (7-6, 6-3) where he failed to hold serve to take the 1st set twice, reminding us that he’s not the Fed of old. Wawrinka is a 4-1 longshot to take the match…kind of tempting. I think it’ll go 3 sets, with Fed squeaking it out, but don’t be shocked if Wawrinka gets his 2nd career win over his far better-known countryman.

Djokovic – Gasquet — Pardon the pun, but it’s a Djok how well Djokovic is playing this year. He is 15-0 on the year, losing just 3 sets total in 2011. He has won 13 of his 38 sets (34%) either 6-1 or 6-0, including his last 4 sets here: 6-0, 6-1 over Gulbis and 6-0, 6-1 over countryman Victor Troicki in the Round of 16. He has lost 6 total games in his 3 matches at Indian Wells. He has also beaten Fed twice handily this year, in straight sets at the Aussie (7-6, 7-5, 6-4) and the finals of Dubai (6-3, 6-3). As for Gasquet, he had a very nice Round of 16 win vs. Roddick yesterday, beating him 6-3, 7-6(5), as well as a dominant victory over world #10 Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-3 the round before. It’s good to see Gasquet playing well again, currently ranked #21 – his ranking at this time last year was 69. Nonetheless, I see another straight set Djoker victory, with Gasquet winning maybe 7 or 8 total games.

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