ATP Indian Wells Day 3 Predictions – Including Stan Wawrinka vs Dan Evans

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Day three at the Indian Wells Masters in the Californian desert will see the bottom half of the men’s draw join the fray. Although the big names will not take to the court until Sunday, there is no shortage of exciting action on offer, with both skilled veterans and talented young guns set to battle it out for a place in the second round. But who will advance and who will fall by the wayside?

Taylor Fritz vs Steve Johnson (third on Stadium 1)

In an all-American battle, Taylor Fritz will take on Steve Johnson in first-round action. It will be the third meeting between the pair in a head-to-head currently tied at one win apiece. Fritz claimed the first, edging out Johnson 7-6 7-6 in the second round in Memphis in 2016. Johnson avenged that defeat last year in the Houston semifinals where he claimed a hard-fought 7-5 6-7 6-2 win. Neither man has made a particularly inspired start to the season, although Fritz did make the last 32 in Melbourne.

As a result, both will be looking to put together a big week in Indian Wells. Fritz, who is a California native, especially so. As illustrated by their two previous clashes, there is little to separate the pair. However, Fritz does have the more solid, all-round game. Johnson, despite his excellent forehand, still suffers badly from his lack of a reliable driven backhand. That could be particularly costly on the gritty courts in Indian Wells, where his slice will lack bite. Expect that to give Fritz a decisive advantage.

Fritz in three.
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Frances Tiafoe vs Nicolas Jarry (fifth on Stadium 1)

In a battle of the young guns, recent Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe will take on Chilean #1 Nicolas Jarry, in what will be the first meeting between the pair. Tiafoe had a dream start to the season by making his memorable run to the last eight at Melbourne Park. But he has won just one match since and crashed out in the first round at the New York Open and in Delray Beach. Jarry also finds himself on a poor run, after failing to win any of his last four matches.

But he will still feel he has a chance of causing an upset in Indian Wells. The courts are amongst the slowest on tour away from clay, and that tends to suit dirt-ballers such as Jarry well. He certainly has the weaponry, with a big serve and forehand combination, to cause Tiafoe problems. But the American can do damage himself and has had some good results during the Sunshine Double already in his fledgling career. Backed by the American crowd, he might well just earn another.

Tiafoe in three.
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Tomas Berdych vs Feliciano Lopez (first on Stadium 2)

In their fifteenth meeting, veterans Tomas Berdych and Feliciano Lopez will clash for a place in the second round. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 8-6 and won their two most recent clashes, although both were contested on Lopez’s favoured grass courts. Berdych, who missed the second half of last season with a back injury, made a fast start to the season, highlighted by a run to the final at the Qatar Open, but his results have rather tailed off since. Lopez, meanwhile, is on something of a farewell tour with retirement close ahead on the horizon.

But this should nonetheless be a competitive affair, although Berdych is surely the favourite. The slow conditions suit his powerful baseline game better than Lopez’s net-rushing style. How well the Lopez backhand stands up to the Berdych forehand, one of the heaviest in the men’s game, will be a source of particular concern for the Spaniard. Nor does he cover the court as swiftly as he did in his prime. That spells trouble against Berdych, who can hit through anyone on his day.

Berdych in two.
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Stan Wawrinka vs Dan Evans (second on Stadium 2)

Stan Wawrinka, after a difficult 2018 in which he struggled to mount a comeback after two knee surgeries, looks to have rediscovered his form. However, he will be tested against qualifier Dan Evans, who convincingly beat Ruben Bemelmans and Noah Rubin, to reach the main draw. The only previous meeting between the pair was a five-set thriller in the third round at the US Open in 2016, with Wawrinka saving match points in the fourth before going onto win the match and then the title.

This has all the makings of an engaging and close contest. Wawrinka is still not the Grand Slam winning force he once was, despite the impressive strides he made in February. Evans is never an easy opponent, with the Briton more willing than most to come to the net and more able than most when he gets there. However, much of his success relies on being able to take time away from his opponents, which he may struggle to do in Indian Wells. And there are few things more dangerous in tennis than when Wawrinka has time on the ball.

Wawrinka in three.

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