Tuesday 20 March 2012

Miami Masters 2012 - Big 4, Big 3 or Big Servers???

 Our guest writer, Idrees Arif, is back with a preview of Sony Ericsson Open 2012. Let us see what Idrees has in mind:
The best tennis guys now move from California to Florida, as we are in the middle of the two biggest ATP events (Grand Slams don’t count as ATP events).
The 2nd of the “9” ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events kicks off on Wednesday. Talking of Masters 1000 events, its worth mentioning here that Federer and Nadal both now stand at “19” Masters Series titles, a record.
The tournament became Ericsson Open from Lipton Championships in 2000, became NASDAQ-100 Open in 2002 and is being played as Sony Ericsson Open since 2007. The sponsors might have changed frequently, but the spirit of the tournament has always been on a higher level.
The draw is out and puts Nadal and Federer in two different halves, which is always a good prospect. Should the draw follow the seeds, it would be Djokovic vs Federer and Nadal vs Murray in the semi-finals of Sony Ericsson 2012. Will the Big 4 make it to the semi-finals or will Big servers step up again to upset one or more of the Big 4???
Djokovic’s form and consistency is beyond doubt. As for Federer, he is on a 15 match winning streak, has won 39 of his last 41 matches and he has had revenge of both of the losses during this span – against Nadal in the Australian Open semi-final 2012 and a Davis Cup loss to Isner. So, we can say that the top half “super-semi” is almost assured.
Nadal vs Murray semi-final has some doubts, as Nadal has super-serving Isner in his quarter, and Murray   will have a potential third round encounter with Raonic and a potential quarter-final against Berdych/Nalbandian.
Who has won the most titles since 2002? Lets have a look at the Singles Finals since 2002:
2002   Andre Agassi def Roger Federer 6–3 6–3 3–6 6–4
2003   Andre Agassi def Carlos Moya 6–3 6–3
2004   Andy Roddick def Guillermo Coria 6–7 6–3 6–1 retired
2005   Roger Federer def Rafael Nadal 2–6 6–7(4–7) 7–6(7–5) 6–3 6–1
2006   Roger Federer def Ivan Ljubicic 7–6(7–5) 7–6(7–4) 7–6(8–6)
2007   Novak Djokovic def Guillermo Canas 6–3 6–2 6–4
2008   Nikolay Davydenko def Rafael Nadal 6–4 6–2
2009   Andy Murray def Novak Djokovic 6–2 7–5
2010   Andy Roddick def Tomas Berdych 7–5 6–4
2011   Novak Djokovic def Rafael Nadal 4–6 6–3 7–6(7–4)

Amongst the current players, Federer, Roddick and Djokovic have won 2 titles each, with Murray and Davydenko also having won it once. If Federer and Roddick get through their opening matches, they will face off in the 3rd round. Nadal is the only one of the Big 4 who has yet to win this title, However, he was a runner-up in ‘05, ‘08, ’11 against Federer, Davydenko and Djokovic respectively.
As a last note, Olympic Gold-Silver-Bronze Medalist, Australian Open Finalist and Former World No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez will be making his final appearance on the tour at Miami. His last appearance on the tour, at Copa Claro, saw him reach the Quarterfinals losing to the eventual champion, current World No.5 David Ferrer. He will be facing French Nicolas Mahut in the 1st round.
We wish Gonzo a very happy future and look forward to great contests of sport at the Crandon Park.
How do you see Idrees's preview? Here is his Indian Wells 2012 Preview. Keep us posted about your views.

Sunday 18 March 2012

American Ace or Swiss Stylo - Indian Wells (ATP) 2012 - Final Preview

Isner downed Djokovic to make to his first Masters Series final, while Federer outclassed Nadal to play for championship against Isner. Both players will be chasing history and will be extra motivated to win the title when they walk onto the court today. One chases history in the record books, while the other chases history for his career. Federer chasing his 4th career title at Indian Wells will be looking to set yet another record, while Isner will be trying to win his first Masters Series and a place as the American top ranked player. Playing at a career high ranking of 11, Isner has nothing to loose in this match. Isner already has to top 10, top 3 to be exact, wins this year. He beat Federer in the Davis clash and beat Djokovic in the semi-finals. Let us have a quick look at the match:

Description  Federer     Isner      
Match Record this year     21-2   13-4
Overall H2H        2      1
Hard Courts H2H        2      0

Federer with his win over Nadal in the semi-finals has now won the most matches in 2012 of all the ATP Players. Federer will look to continue his form that took him to the Rotterdam and Dubai titles, while Isner will be looking to carry on the momentum from his semi-final match. The most recent encounter of the pair came at Davis cup when Isner stunned Federer in 4 sets to clinch an important rubber for U.S.A. The memories of that clash will be fresh in the minds of both players. Federer avenged his Australian Open loss at the hands of Nadal and will be looking for some revenge over Isner.

Let us have a look at the road to the final for both players:

Rd.   Opponent        Ranking    Final Score         
1r Bye        -            -
2r Gil      86       75 63
3r Monaco      22       75 75
4r Ebden      91       64 75
QF Simon      13     63 16 75
SF Djokovic       1  76(7) 36 76(5)

The road to the final was full of hurdles but Isner made it through each hurdle loosing 2 sets en-route and lost his serve only 5 times during that span.

Rd.   Opponent        Ranking        Final Score     
1rBye         -             -
2rKudla      185        64 61
3rRaonic       27    67(4) 62 64
4rBellucci       50      36 63 64
QFDel Potro        9       63 62
SFNadal        2       63 64

Federer had some problems against Raonic and Bellucci but since then outclassed Del Potro and Nadal. Federer, much like his opponent has lost 2 sets en-route and has lost his serve for 5 times.

Stats Corner at Indian Wells 2012

Description    Federer       Isner      
1st Serve %age         61%    65%
%age Points won on 1st Serve            79%    77%
%age points won on 2nd serve       60%    63%
Break points saved       67%    72%
1st return points won       32%    29%
2nd return points won       52%    46%
Break Points won       62%    40%

Service game will be very important for both players, whoever will let go of his serve will be in danger. Federer will have up his first serve percentage, while Isner will have to be solid while returning the serve. It will all come down to serves and nerves, as I had pointed out in my Inser - Djokovic semi-final Preview . Whoever will handle both better than the other will emerge victorious.

What do you think? Willl the Amercian Ace have enough in tank and his guns to dismantle the Swiss Stylo??? Who do you see taking this one home??? Keep us updated.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Swiss Stylo downs Mallorcan Majician - Federer defeats Nadal in Indian Wells Semi-Finals 2012

Rain and wind welcomed the first Fedal dual at Indian Wells, in the semi-finals of 2012. Rain pouring down caused delay of the match by around 3 hours, but the wind never died down. It all started to be in for Federer's way, Federer building a 3-0 lead quickly but Nadal, as we have come to know him, is a great fighter, and that was what he exactly did, as he fought back to win the next 3 games to bring the set back on serve. From then on, it was all Federer, literally painting the lines and going 2/2 on break points in the first set and winning it 63. Federer quickly went up 5-2 in the second set, only to see Nadal break him back and close the gap to 5-4, but Federer served it out in his next chance. There were rain delays in between the match. Thrice the match was stopped because of drizzling, Nadal went for a washroom break when Federer had to serve for the match. A lot of awkward stuff out there, but Federer beat everything including Nadal to win a spot in the championship match. What was amazing today was how Federer's backhand held up against Nadal. Federer marches on, while Nadal goes on to Miami. The final score being 63 64.

Let us have a brief overview of the stats:

DescriptionPre-SF      SF      
1st Serve %age    67%   71%
%age Points won on 1st Serve         80%   57%
%age points won on 2nd serve    64%   44%
Break points saved    85%   33%
1st return points won    35%   36%
2nd return points won    53%   35%
Break Points won    54%   50%

You can see a marked difference in the %age of points won Nadal won on his first serve and second serve, he also could not capitalise on Federer's second serve resulting in a 63 64 loss to the Swiss Mastero.

Description   Pre-SF      SF    
1st Serve %age    61%   64%
%age Points won on 1st Serve        83%   64%
%age points won on 2nd serve    58%   65%
Break points saved    73%   50%
1st return points won    29%   43%
2nd return points won    51%   56%
Break Points won    61%   67%
Federer played very aggressively throughout the match and it did pay off at the end. You can note the marked decrease in his winning percentage on first serve, but also a marked increase in the points won while returning Nadal's serve. What was most important was Federer making the most of break points. Federer took both break point opportunites he had in the first set and ended up winning 4 of the 6 break point chances he had by the end of the match.

For now on Federer marches on to his first Indian Wells final since he won his last trophy here in 2006 (defeated James Blake). Federer will be playing Djokovic's conqueror, Isner, another American.

The Server downs the Returner - Isner downs Djokovic for a spot in Indian Wells Final 2012

It was a big day for both players at BNP Paribas Open 2012, Isner wanted his first win over reigning no.1 player, he wanted to make it to his first Masters Series final, while Djokovic wanted to have a shot to defend his crown at Indian Wells for the first time. There was not much difference in the rankings, just putting another 1 in front of Djokovic's ranking makes up Isner's ranking, and Isner did show that today. The match started out in Djokovic's way as he broke Isner in the third game at love, and then held the rest of the way to get a chance to serve for the set. But that was where it all started, a double-fault to open the game, followed by 2 stunning winners by Isner and there you go, it was back on serve. The set went to tie breaks. You never want to play tie-break against a guy like Isner on a day when his serve is on, and that is exactly what happened, Djokovic turned to defensive as Isner took control and ended up winning the first set 76(7).
In the second set Djokovic upped his level, winning 92% of the first serve points, as against only 69% in the first set and wining 100% points on his 2nd serve as against only 50% in the first set. Djokovic earned tripple break point in the 8th game of the second set but Isner saved all three with some good serves, however he ran out of gas on Djokovic's 4th break point chance, handling Djokovic the break and again an opportunity to serve for the set, only that this time there would be no breaking back by Isner. Djokovic served it out to level the match one set apiece.
The 3rd set started with each player holding his serve, Djokovic was the first to see a break point opportunity in the 7th game of the set but a big serve (an ace) shut out that opportunity for Djokovic. Inser earned his first match point in the 12th game of the 3rd set,however Djokovic saved that match point to send the match to the tie-breaker. Coming into today's match Inser was 9-2 in tie-breaks so far this year, while Djokovic was only 3-2. In the tie-break Djokovic saved 2 more match points, however, there would be no win for Djokovic this time after saving match points, as Isner seized the match on his 4th match point by firing his 20th ace of the match. The final score was 76(7) 36 76(5).

Let us see how a brief overview of the stats:
Djokovic's Stats

Description  Pre-SF      SF      
1st Serve %age     62%    65%
%age Points won on 1st Serve              72%    78%
%age points won on 2nd serve     63%    62%
Break points saved     86%    50%
1st return points won     36%    28%
2nd return points won     58%    48%
Break Points won     58%    33%

For Djokovic, he did everythig well today as compared to his previous matches so far here at Indian Wells, with the only exception of his return as is evident from the stats above (highlighted), but what else can you do against a guy like Isner, who is constantly throwing bombs at you, coming at 143 M.PH and 144 M.P.H.

Isner's Stats
How did Isner pull off this win?

Description  Pre-SF     SF     
1st Serve %age     62%   74%
%age Points won on 1st Serve                       79%   72%
%age points won on 2nd serve     67%   52%
Break points saved     75%   67%
1st return points won     31%   22%
2nd return points won     48%   38%
Break Points won     39%   50%

You can see a marked difference in his first serve %age (highlighted), and that was what won Isner the match today, although his winning %age on his second serve dropped but with Isner serving at 74% and winning 72% of those points, a dip on the second serve can be forgiven.

All in all it was a solid performance from a big guy, who will break into the top 10 for the first time in his career and there could not be a better way to do this, than dismantling the world no.1.

The Question at the start of tournmanet was who can break the hold of Big 3???? Well! We all now know who can.

Indian Wells Semi-Finals (ATP) 2012 - Previews

Semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open will be contested today featuring the world's top 3 players and one American no.2 fighting for a place to fight for championship. The first match pits World no.1 Novak Djokovic against home favourite and American no.2 John Isner, while the other semi-final pits Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal.
Let us have a quick look at the matches.

1- Djokovic (1) vs Isner (11)

Description Djokovic Isner
Match Record this year   14-1 12-4
Overall H2H      2    0
Hard Courts H2H      1    0
The pair has met only twice, in the semi-finals of beijing 2010, where Djokovic came out on top in straights sets and in the the first round of Davis cup in 2010 when Djokovic won in 5 sets. Let us have a look at how did each player made it to the semi-finals.

Road to Semi-finals:
Novak Djokovic

Rd. Opponent RankingFinal Score
1r Bye   -             -
2r Golubev 145 63 62
3r Anderson 30 62 63
4r Andujar 45 60 67(5) 62
QF Almagro 12 63 64

Djokovic has been in stellar form so far this week, his form dropped a bit in his 4th round win over Andujar but he was in fine form in his quarter-final clash against Almagro dismantling him in straight sets.

John Isner

Rd. Opponent Ranking Final Score
1r Bye -       -  
2r Gil 86 75 63
3r Monaco 22 75 75
4r Ebden 91 64 75
QF Simon 13 63 16 75
Isner has played some inspired tennis throughout this tournament, and much like his semi-final opponent has lost only one set en-route.

Stats corner for Indian Wells 2012:

Description Djokovic Isner
1st Serve %age 62% 62%
%age Points won on 1st Serve 72% 79%
%age points won on 2nd serve 63% 67%
Break points saved 86% 75%
1st return points won 36% 31%
2nd return points won 58% 48%
Break Points won 58% 39%

Djokovic has only been broken  twice in the entire tournament so far, once in his opening match against Golubev and once by Almagro in his QF match, while isner has been broken only thrice during the tournament,all three times by Simon in the pair's quarter-final calsh. Djokovic is one of the best returners in the ATP tour at the tournament and if Isner is to have any chance against Djokovic, he must not let go of his serve. Isner is no match to Djokovic when it comes down to return of serve and break point conversion, but with his confidence running high at the moment, he may create trouble for World no.1 who is gunning for his 4th final appearance here in Indian Wells.

This is Isner's second straight Masters series semi-final appearance. He is playing at a career best ranking of 11 and is on the cusp of making it to the top 10. Will he be able to defeat Djokovic and make his breakthrough or will he go down, only time will tell us. Let us hope for a great match.

2 - Nadal (2) vs Federer (3)
Federer and Nadal are arguably two of the greatest players to ever play tennis. This is the pairs 28th meeting overall, but first in Indian Wells. Let us have a quick look at what the match holds for us.

Description Nadal Federer
Match Record this year 12-2   20-2
Overall H2H   19     8
Hard Courts H2H    5     5
In the pair's most recent encounter, Nadal came after loosing the first set to win their clash in the semi-final of the Australian Open this year. Will Federer be able to extract some revenge? Let us have a look at the path of each player to semi-finals.

Road to semi-finals:
Roger Federer

Rd. Opponent Rank Final Score
1r Bye  -   -  
2r Kudla 185 64 61
3r Raonic  27 67(4) 62 64
4r Bellucci  50 36 63 64
QF Del Potro   9 63 62
Federer had arguably the toughest quarter of all, but he made it out of it, with excellent play, 'never let go of it' attitude, and some luck as well. For two consecutive matches (3rd and 4th round) Federer lost the first set, but won the next two to take the match. he had a much easier win against Del Potro and must be well rested for his clash against Nadal.

Rafael Nadal

Rd. Opponent Rank Final Score
1r Bye    -    -  
2r Mayer   78 61 63
3r Granollers   26 61 64
4r Dolgopolov   21 63 62
QF Nalbandian   74 46 75 64

Nadal had a much smooth journey till his quarter-final clash against Nalbandian. Nadal had neither lost a set, nor his serve when he took the court against Nalbandian for a spot in the semi-final, but it all changed, he lost the first set and he lost his serve twice, but he emreged as the winner to set up a block buster semi-final against Federer.

Stats Corner for Indian Wells 2012

Description Nadal Federer
1st Serve %age 67% 61%
%age Points won on 1st Serve 80% 83%
%age points won on 2nd serve 64% 58%
Break points saved 85% 73%
1st return points won 35% 29%
2nd return points won 53% 51%
Break Points won 54% 61%
Federer has been broken only thrice so far in this tournament, once in his opening match against Kudla and twice in his 4th round encounter against Bellucci, Nadal on the other hand has only been broken twice, and that happened in his quarter-final match against Nalbandian. Nadal has lost only one set, in his quarter-final match, while Federer has lost 2 sets, in his 3rd and 4th round matches. Federer will need to up his first serve percentage if he wants to have any chance agaisnt Nadal, and he will have to improve upon his return of serve. Federe has won the least 1st serve return points of all the 4 semi-finalists. Federer's record of break point conversion against nadal has laways been poor and has been one of the main reasons of his losses against Nadal, he will have to improve on it to have any shot at Nadal. For Nadal's part, he is superior in all his stats so far at the tournament, with the only exception of break point conversion. He will have to raise his level against Federer to record his 20th win agianst the Swiss. Both players have been in tremendous form so far. It will all come down to nerves and serves, who ever handles both things better will emrege as winner. No matter what the outcome, we are all in for a treat. Let us hope for a great match.

Who are you rooting for and who do you think will make it to the final? Will it be another Nadal - Djokovic or will Federer and Isner have their say? Keep us posted. Enjoy :)

Friday 16 March 2012

Fedal or Potral in Indian Wells 2012 - QF Preview

The last two Quarter-finals take place today with arguably two of the game's greatest players taking the court against their tricky and talented opponents. Federer taking on the court against Del Potro (this is pair's 4th meeting this year) , while Nadal taking on the court against Nalbandian. Let us have a quick review:

1- Federer (3) vs Del Potro (9)
Federer has been to Del Potro, what Azarenka has been to Radwanska this year, with only 2 differences. Federer has lost a match to Nadal (Australian Open Semi-Finals), while Azarenka has yet to loose a match this year. Radwanska has not lost to anyone but Azarenka, Del Potro has lost one match to a player not named Federer, this year (the loss coming in Sydney to at the hands of Baghdatis). Like Azarenka- Radwanska, this is Federer - Del Potro's 4th meeting this year. It promises to be an interesting match, Federer was stretched to length in his last two matches here, in both of which he lost the first set but came back to win the match. In the pair's most recent meeting in the semi-finals of Dubai, Federer saved 4 set points in the second set tie-breaker. Del Potro has been on a roll himself this year and he is getting into form that took him to his only Grand Slam he has won so far. Del Potro was also given a tough test by Istomin in the pair's 4th round encounter. It will all come down to who can hold his serve efficiently. Expect it to be although battle.

Federer Del Potro
Match Record this year  19-2    19-4
Overall H2H   10      2
Hard Courts H2H    7      2
Del Potro was the last South American to beat Federer, in the 2009 Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals, since then Federer has not lost any of 17 matches he has played against the South Americans. Federer has won the pair's last 4 meetings in straight sets, but their most recent meeting at Dubai suggests that things might get interesting here. Federer has so far last his serve only 3 times (held 34 times out of 37 times), while Del Potro has lost his serve only twice so far in this tournament (held serve for 34 times out of 36 times). It will all come down to whose serve breaks down. I hope Federer can continue his winning ways, although I have a feeling that Del Potro may be taking this one. We are in for a treat no doubt.

Federer in 3 sets.

2- Nadal (2) vs Nalbandian

Description Nadal Nalbandian
Match Record this year 11-2     11-4
Overall H2H 3        2
Hard Courts H2H 3        2
Nalbandian is 2-2 against top 10 players at Indian Wells, and he has beaten two top 10 players for the first time in one tournament since Paris 2008. nadal has not lost any set so far in this tournament. Nadal has made it to the semi-finals or better in each of his past 6 appearances here, while for Nalbandian this his only 2nd QF appearance here. In the pair's most recent encounter, Nadal came out on top in the 3rd round of last year's U.S Open. Nalbandian with his back to back top 10 wins has shown that he can create trouble for Nadal. In 2 of the pair's last 3 meetings Nalbandian did take a set off nadal. If Nalbandian can keep his level up, it will be an interesting match and we may see an upset here. Nadal will win this one, but I want to go for Nalbandian, since there is no harm in going for the player you like ;)

Nadal in 3 sets.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Azarenka, the streaka or Kerber, the Iron nerved lady

The first semi-final pits Azarenka, the shrieka and the streaka against fast rising German, Kerber, who has shown that she has the nerves of iron after her first 2 matches here, and who holds the 3rd most match wins this season, after Azarenka and Radwanska. Azarenka is 21-0 so far this year, while Kerber is 19-4 this year. The pair has never met before, both had straight sets wins over their opponents in the quarter-final matches.

Let us have a look at their path to the Semi-final. First up is Azarenka:

Round  Opponent Ranking Final Score
2nd   Barthel   37 64 67(4) 76(6)
3rd   Kuznetsova   27 61 62
4th   Goerges   15 63 61
QF   Radwanska     5 60 62

Azarenka nearly lost her opener against Barthel, but since then has not lost more than 3 games in a set, and has only lost her serve for 4 times in her previous 3 matches. Azarenka with her win over Radwanska has tied Serena Williams for the best start to the season since Hingis's run of 37 consecutive matches in 1997. Serena set the record of 21 straight wins in 2003, the year when she won the Serena Slam. Azarenka has matched her previous best showing here at Indian Wells, with her SF showing this year (her previous showing coming in 2009 when she lost to Zvonareva who went on to win the title).

How does Kerber's road to semi-final look like?

Round  Opponent Ranking Final Score
2nd  Stephens    90 26 75 64
3rd  King    58 Walk Over
4th  Mchale    35 63 36 76(4)
QF  Li     8 64 62

Kerber had never been to the 4th round here prior to this year, her previous best showing coming here last year which was 3rd round, and here she is surviving match points in the first 2 matches she played here and then dismantling the reigining French Open champion to book a SF spot, her first SF here at Indian Wells.Kerber is 3-1 against the top 10 player so far this year, and with matches where she survived match points and then a solid performance against Li, must give her a huge confidence booster.


Let us have a look at the stats of the matches each has played so far here at Indian Wells.

Description Azarenka Kerber
1st serve percentage 69% 70%
%age of points won on first serve 67% 63%
%age of points won on 2nd serve 45% 52%
Break Points saved 55% 74%
1st return points won 47% 38%
2nd return points won 60% 55%
Break points Converted 62% 48%
Double Faults 24 4

Azarenka is averaging 6 double faults per match, while Kerber is averaging only 1 double fault per match, it is interesting to note that all 4 of kerber's double faults have come in her match against Mchale. Azarenka has a low winning percentage on her second serve, whereas Kerber has won more than 50% of the second serves returned in her matches so far, Azarenka will definitely have to step up for her second serves. Kerber has been serving well, which is evident from the fact that she has saved 74% of the break points she has faced so far, but if we see the break point conversion rate for Azarenka, it is an impressive 62%, which means Kerber will have to be more cautious here. Kerber will also  need to improve on her second serves as Azarenka has won a huge 60% of the second serves she has returned so far at this year's tournament. All in all, if Kerber plays like she has bee, it will be a treat for everyone.

Azarenka and Kerber are the only players left in the draw to have won a title in 2012 and they will be facing off each other for a spot in the final, which means we will have only one player left in the draw after this match who has won a title in 2012. Neither Kerber, nor Azarenka has ever been to the Indian Wells final before, which means we will see a first time finalist here at Indian Wells this year. With Li bowing out to Kerber, we now have only one reigning Grand Slam champion left in the draw, being Azarenka (Australian Open 2012).

Will it be Azarenka, the streaka or will it be Kerber, the iron nerved lady??? Who will walk off the court smiling? What do you say? 

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Indian Wells QF (WTA) 2012 Preview - Bottom Half of Draw

Yesterday we saw the first two of our 4 Quarter-final matches, with Azarenka thrashing Radwanska in straight sets to book a place in the semi-finals and Kerber blowing Li Na off the court.
The remaining two Quarterfinals are scheduled for today and see World No.7 Bartoli against 2008 French Open Champion Ivanovic, and World no.2 Sharapova against her friend Kirilenko.

1- Bartoli (7) vs Ivanovic (15)

Description Bartoli Ivanovic
Match Record this year 13-5 10-5
Overall H2H    3    4
H2H on hard courts    3    4
Bartoli is through to her 2nd QF at Indian Wells. Last year she made her QF debut and advanced to the final, finishing runner-up to Wozniacki. Bartoli is playing her 4th QF of the season, after Sydney (QF), Paris(Runner-up) and Doha (SF) It is interesting to note that 6 of Bartoli's 7 titles have come on hard courts. Bartoli is playing at a career high ranking of 7 and was on fire in her 4th round clash against Safarova, but so was the player she will be facing in the QF, Ivanovic, against her opponent, Wozniacki. Ivanovic was mater-class in her win over Wozniacki in the 4th round and if she plays like that against Bartoli, she will definitely make it past her. 

The match is a re-match of the last year's QF of Indian Wells, when Bartoli defeated Ivanovic, Ivanovic will have a shot to get some revenge. Although Ivanovic leads the pair's head to head, Bartoli has won 3 of the pair's last 4 encounters, including the one at the same stage here last year.
Ivanovic is one of two former champions remaining in the field at Indian Wells this year (2008; defeated Kuznetsova in F), the other being Sharapova (2006; defeated Dementieva). Ivanovic is also one of 4 Grand Slam titlists making it to the QF stage of this year's Indian Wells (others being Azarenka, Li and Sharapova). Ivanovic is 2-2 in Indian Wells QF matches, and on the 2 occasions she won her QF, she went on to reach the Final. 
Bartoli is 0-3 against the top 20 players so far this year, while Ivanovic is 3-4 against top 10 players this year. Expect it to be a tough battle. Both are the type of players, who can go off at any time, so it will all come down to who holds herself together throughout the match. Expect Ivanovic to get some revenge.
Ivanovic in 3 sets.

2- Sharapova (2) vs Kirilenko (20)

Description Sharapova Kirilenko
Match Record this year     11-2    11-5
Overall H2H        2      2
H2H on hard courts        2      2
Kirilenko has achieved her best result at Indian Wells by reaching the QF (previously 4r in 2005). Kirilenko is bidding for her 2nd SF appearance of the season, following Pattaya City, where she lost to Daniela Hantuchova.  

Kirilenko is 2-9 lifetime against Top 2 ranked opponents; both wins have come via retirement; over No.1 Sharapova at 2005 Beijing and No.2 Safina at 2010 Australian Open. 
Sharapova is playing her first tournament since falling to Angelique Kerber in QFs at Paris in February. Sharapova is one of 2 former champions remaining in the field at Indian Wells this year (2006; defeated Dementieva in F), the other being Ivanovic (2008; defeated Kuznetsova in F). Sharapova holds the most Grand Slam singles titles of any player in the draw (3). 
Sharapova is bidding to reach the SF stage at Indian Wells for the 5th time (Champion – 2006; SF – 2005, 2008, 2011). Aside from 2003 when she lost to No.111 Samantha Reeves in the 1st round, Sharapova has never lost to a player ranked outside top 23 (Infact only 3 of her losses here at Indian Wells have come at the hands of players ranked outside top 10, the other two being in 2007, when Zvonareva ranked 20 defeated Sharapova in 4th round, and in 2010 when Zheng ranked 23 defeated Sharapova in the 3rd round) at Indian Wells. Sharapova has conceded the least number of games (12) en route to the QF here, and is the only one not to have dropped a set en route. The pair has not met since their encounter at Australian Open in 2010 in the first round, where Kirilenko upset Sharapova in 3 sets. Expect Sharapova to get some revenge.
Sharapova in straight sets.

Who do you see coming up on top in these two matches? Who is your favourite? Keep us posted. Enjoy the on-court show.

Indian Wells QF Preview (WTA) 2012 - Top Half of Draw

The Quarter-finals of BNP Paribas Open kick-off with 2 of the hottest players of WTA at the moment squarring off against each other for the 4th time this year, as Azarenka and Radwanska face off for a SF spot. Azarenka is the youngest of the 8 quarter-finalists, the second QF of the day pits off, the oldest of the 8 Quarter-finalists, Li Na, against German, Kerber. With her hard fought win over Barthel in her opening match here, Azarenka had tied Sharapova for the best start to the year since 1997, and with her win over Kuznetsova she surpassed Sharapova's 18 match best start to the season since 2008. Now with her win over Goerges, Azarenka has her sights set on Serena's 21 match streak, which she set in 2003. With her win over Radwanska she will tie Williams for a second place in the best start to the season since 1997. Hingis holds the top spot with a 37 match winning streak to start the season which ended with her loss to Iva Majoli in the Final of Roland Garros in 1997 . Let us have a look at the matches we have in store for today:

1- Azarenka (1) vs Radwanska (5)

Description Azarenka Radwanska
Match Record this year    20-0     20-3
Overall H2H      8       3
H2H on hard courts      7       2
 Radwanska and Azarenka both have won 20 matches this year and are the only players to win 20 matches this year. Azarenka has not lost any match so far this year and will be aiming for her 300th career win when taking the court against Radwanska. Radwanska has also not lost any match this year to anyone other than Azarenka. All 3 of Radwanska's losses have come at the hands of Azarenka this year. In their most recent encounter in Doha, Azarenka defeated Radwanska in straight sets. However, 4 of their previous 5 encounters have gone to 3 sets, including their meeting in the 4th round here last year which was won by Azarenka in the 3rd set tie-break. What is interesting to note is that in all those 4 meetings Radwanska won the first set but ended up winning the match on only one of those 4 occasions. Radwanska is 1-5 life-time agianst reigning no.1's. Her only win coming over Wozniacki this year at Sydney. Radwanska is playing at career best ranking of 5 and is projected to set a new career best ranking of 4 when the new rankings are released. It will be an interesting match to watch, especially after the comments each player has been giving after their most recent encounter at Doha. Radwanska had accused Azarenka of gamemanship, while Azarenka had said that they are still friends. It should be a fitting battle between the two. Azarenka should win this, but I have to like Radwanska's chances, although her H2H against Azarenka and reigning no.1's is not in her favour, and her performance against Hampton was also not very good. I have a feeling Azarenka will take this, but hey, what is the harm in going for Radwanska.

Radwanska in 3 sets.

2- Li (8) vs Kerber (18)

Description Li  Kerber
Match Record this year 10-3 18-4
Overall H2H    3    0
H2H on hard courts    2    0
Although Li leads their H2H, all their encounters came in 2010, when Kerber was not even ranked in the top 50. Li was on fire in her match against Zakopalova, while Kerber again showed nerves of steel in saving 3 match points against yet another Amercian, this time it was Mchale. With 17 wins so far this year, Kerber is second only to Azarenka and Radwanska in most matches won this year, and must be high on confidence given her 2 wins here in which she saved match points. Kerber is making her first QF appearance here at Indian Wells, while for Li, this is her second QF appearance in her 6th appearance and she will look to match her previous best showing here (SF in 2007) by making it to the semi-finals. Kerber is one of the 3 players remaining in the draw who have won a title this year (the other being Radwanska and Azarenka). Li will be looking to achieve another mile-stone in her career when she takes on Kerber, she will be aiming to record her 400th career win.

Li in 3 sets.

Who do you think will emerge as victorious? For how long do you think Azarenka's streak will continue? Do keep us posted. Enjoy :)

Indian Wells 4th Round (ATP) 2012 Preview - Bottom Half of draw

Fourth round action at BNP Paribas kicks off today. For a preview of the 4th round clashes in the top half of draw please visit here Let us have a quick look at the bottom half of the draw what we have in store.

1- Del Potro (9) vs Istomin
Description Del Potro Istomin
Match Record this year   18-4   13-6
Overall H2H      1      0
Hard Courts H2H      0      0
Istomin showed great form in dismantling the on fire Ferrer, to record his first top 10 win in 11 career meetings, and must be running high on confidence while entering his match against Del Potro. However, in the pair's only meeting before, Del Potro defeated Istomin in straight sets in the first round of Queen's Club last year. Del Potro has also been on fire lately and has not lost to anyone other than Federer since Australian Open, and he played solidly in his match against Verdasco. Del Potro has not lost before the QF stage of any tournament he has so far played in 2012. This is Del Potro's 4th appearance at Indian Wells and he has fallen before the QF only once, back in 2007 on his debut here in Indian Wells (he lost in the second round to then world no.16 Gasquet). For Istomin, this is his 3rd showing at Indian Wells and the first time that he has won a match here, he lost in the first round of the Qualifiers in 2010 and in the first round last year. Expect it to be a tough call for Istomin.
Del Potro in straight sets.

2- Federer (3) vs Bellucci

Description Federer Bellucci
Match Record this year  18-2    6-5
Overall H2H    0     0
Hard Courts H2H    0     0
Bellucci has been playing well lately and showed some good form in his second round win over Melzer, however Federer has been on fire and is now riding an 11 match win streak coming into this match and has won his last 73 matches against the players ranked outside top 20. Bellucci is 3-11 in his career against the top 10 players but all those 3 wins have come on clay (2 of them ocming last year en-route his semi-final run to Madrid where he defeated Murray and Berdych before falling to Djokoiv in 3 sets), he is 0-5 against the top 10 playes on hard courts, having failed to win a set in those 5 losses. Federer had some halth issues in his opening match but looked pretty good in his solid performance against one of the fastest rising youngster, Raonic. Federer may be fatigued after his 3 set win over Raonic while Bellucci will be well rested since he got a walkover from Davydenko (Davydenko withdrew due to illness). Federer said after his win over Raonic "I hope to feel better again tomorrow so I will be able to last through long rallies.”

Federer in straight sets.

3- Tsonga (8) vs Nalbandian

Description Tsonga Nalbandian
Match Record this year  15-3      10-4
Overall H2H     1        0
Hard Courts H2H     1        0
THe only meeting of the pair came in the final of Paris in 2008, Tsonga came out on top in 3 sets. Nalbandian must be in a mood to get some revenge. This is Tsonga's 5th appearance at Indian Wells and he has made it to the 4th round in 2 of his prior 4 showings here, but has not been able to get out of the 4th round here, loosing to Nadal in 2008 and to Soderling in 2010.Nalbandian is 1-1 against the top 10 players this year (His win came against Tipsarevic in the previous round, while his loss came against Ferrer in the SF of Buenos Aires). Tsonga has not lost any match to a player ranked outside the top 30, so far this year (2 of his 3 losses coming at the hands of Del Potro,ranked 10th at that time and one at the hands of Nishikori, ranked 26th at that time) This is Nalbandian's 9th appearance at Indian Wells. He has made it to the 4th round in 5 of his previous 6 visits here (since 2004), but has progressed beyond the 4r only once during those 5 times. Nalbandian knows what it takes to defeat a top player. I owuld love to see Nalbandian pull it off, but my gut feeling is Tsonga will prevail, still I m going with Nalbandian.

Nalbandian in 3 sets.

4- Nadal (2) vs Dolgopolov (21)

Description Nadal Dolgopolov
Match Record this year  11-2     9-5
Overall H2H    2      0
Hard Courts H2H    1      0
This is Nadal's 8th appearance here and he has reached the SF or better the last 6 times he has played here at Indian Wells, his only loss before semi-final coming in his debut year here in 2004. Dolgopolov is trying to reach his first QF at Indian Wells and overall his second QF at a Masters Series event (his previous QF showing was in Shanghai last year). Dolgopolov is 0-2 against top 10 players this year and only 2-15 in his career, and is winless in his previous 4 encounters against the top 3, failing to win even a set against them, the closest he came to taking off a set was at last year's U.S Open against Djokovic when he lost the first set in tie-break. Nadal will be the fresher of the two having won his both matches here in straight sets, while Dolgopolov was pushed to the limits in both his first 2 matches here, coming out on top in 3 sets in both matches. I would love to see Dolgopolov win this one, but with his very inconsistent form it will be tough for him, and many of you must be thinking that I am crazy, but hey, there is no harm in predicting a win for the player you like ;).
Dolgopolov in straight sets.

What are your picks? Do keep us posted. Enjoy :)

Indian Wells 4th Round (ATP) 2012 Preview - Top Half of Draw

Fourth round action at BNP Paribas kicks off today, 2 of the top 5 players have already gone home, the players being Murray and Ferrer. 6 of the top 10 players will be in action, led by no.1 Djokovic, for a spot in the QF. There are some intriguing battles lined up for us. With Ferrer gone this is Almagro's chance to become the first player in 2012 to win 20 matches. Let us have a quick look at the bottom half of the draw what we have in store. For preview of the bottom half of the draw please go here.

1- Djokovic (1) vs Andujar

Description Djokovic Andujar
Match Record this year   12-1    6-6
Overall H2H      1      0
Hard Courts H2H      0      0
This is Djokovic's 7th appearance at Indian Wells, and during his past 6 visists he has made it to the 4th round or better, the only time in past years he has lost at this stage was in 2010 when he lost in straight sets to then 26th ranked Ljubicic (Ljubicic went on to win the title that year). This is Andujar's 2nd appearance at Indian Wells and his best showing so far. Andujar is 0-1 against top 10 players this year, and 1-7 in his career (his lone win coming over Verdasco, who was ranked no.9 then, last March in Miami). He is 0-1 against reiging no.1s (a straight set loss to Nadal in the second round of Roland Garros) and to add to that he lost his only previous encounter against Djokovic in straight sets in the first round of Umag in 2007. Andujar has a nearly unsurmountable mountain in front of him in the form of Djokovic, but he is relishing this opportunity to play against him. "I’m a better player right now, but he is also a better player than he was when I played him, so I’ll try to enjoy it,” he said. “He’s World No. 1, so I have nothing to lose."

Djokovic in straight sets.

2- Berdych (7) vs Almagro (12)

Description Berdych Almagro
Match Record this year    16-3    19-5
Overall H2H      5       2
Hard Courts H2H      2       0
The pair's most recent encounter in the 4th round of Australian Open was a worth watching match, however it ended up with Berdych refusing to shake hand with Almgaro at the end of the hand. Under normal circumstances tripple 6 will get you through the match at Grand slams but that was not the case in that encounter. Almagro won the first set 6-4 but lost the next 3 in tie-break. (Berdych accused Almagro of purposely playing a shot at his body, which hit Berdych and he fell on court. Berdych later on did not shake hand with Almagro after the match). Almagro's history at Indian Wells has not been good as well. This is his fifth showing here and he has made it to the 4th round only once before (in 2010 when he retired in his 4th round match against Murray while trailing by a set and 0-1 in the second set). Berdych's history at Indian Wells has been comparatively better. This is his 8th appearance here at Indian Wells and he is made it to the 4th round in 3 of his past 7 appearances, however on only on of those 3 ocassions he made it out of the 4th round to reach the QF. Almagro is 0-2 against the top 10 players so far this year. Will he be able to reverse the results and win this one?

Berdych in straight sets

3- Simon (13) vs Harrison

Description Simon Harrison
Match Record this year   9-6      9-5
Overall H2H    0       0
Hard Courts H2H    0       0
Harrison is also coming off a good win over Troicki, though he was sloopy in his win over Lopez but he has matched his best showing here in Indian Wells. Harrison has some fond memories from last year's Indian Wells, when he made it to the 4th round before falling to Roger Federer. He will have a shot at making it to the his first QF here at Indian Wells when he faces Simon. Although Harrison has won 9 matches coming into this match, he has yet to post a win over top 20 player this year. This is Simon's 6th appearance at Indian Wells and it is the first time that he has made it to the 4th round here. Coming into his match against Wawrinka, Simon was  0-3 so far against top 40 players and had lost 3 of his past 5 matches, but he did change all that with a straight sets win over Wawrinka and he must be feeling good about it. I have a feeling Harrison will take this match but for the time being I will stick with Simon.

Simon in 3 sets.

4- Isner (11) vs Ebden

Description Isner Ebden
Match Record this year 10-4   7-5
Overall H2H   0    0
Hard Courts H2H   0    0
This is Isner's 5ht appearance at Indian Wells and he has never made it out of the 4th round, but all his 4 losses on his previous 4 showings here have come at the hands of top 8 players, he has yet to loose a match at Indian Wells to a player ranked outside top 8. This year's Indian Wells has brought a lot of good memories for Ebden,it is here that he has got his first career top 10 win , so he must be runnign high on confidence. Both players will be gunning to make it to Indian Wells QF for the first time in their careers. Given Isner's recent form, it will be the best chance for isner to make it to his Indian Wells QF.

Isner in straight sets.

Which underdogs will prevail today against the favourites? Which upset do you see? Keep us posted. Tennis courts are like battle grounds with no-where to hide. Enjoy :)