ATP Indian Wells Day 4 Predictions – Including Novak Djokovic vs Bjorn Fratangelo

After the completion of the first round in the Californian desert, day three will see the commencement of the round of 64. And that means that the ATP’s big guns will be stepping on to court for the first time, with a stellar schedule now at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for day four’s play. It includes a battle of the young guns, a showman extraordinaire and one of the greatest players ever to pick up a racquet. But who will make their way into the third round?

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Felix Auger-Aliassime (first on Stadium 1)

Ninth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has enjoyed a magnificent start to the season, highlighted by a run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park, as well as a title in Marseille and a runner-up finish in Dubai. But he may well have his work cut out for him against Felix Auger-Aliassime, who recently reached the final at the Rio Open and destroyed Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-2 in the first-round. With both men in such fine form and at their best when playing on the front foot, a thrilling clash could well be in store

The Greek possesses a fluid attacking game, with his forehand his best shot but his serve and backhand weapons in their own right. He also typically looks to come into the forecourt regularly and is a good volleyer. Auger-Aliassime is more comfortable at the baseline, but has a tremendous forehand that he hits with a combination of pace and spin reminiscent of the great Rafael Nadal. In Indian Wells, where the gritty hard courts send a spinning ball rearing up wildly, that will be rewarded. Especially against Tsitsipas’ one-hander. But the Greek has proven a wily competitor of late and has the artillery to hit through Auger-Aliassime.

Tsitsipas in three.
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Gael Monfils vs Leonardo Mayer (second on Stadium 1)

Monfils is another man enjoying a productive 2019 so far. The Frenchman won his first title of the year in Rotterdam, beating Stan Wawrinka in a three sets in the final. He also reached the semifinals in Dubai, losing there to Tsitsipas 6-4 6-7 6-7 in an instant classic. But against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, who battled past New York Open champion Reilly Opelka in two tiebreaks in the first round, he will not have things all his own way. Monfils does, however, lead their head-to-head 3-1.

Mayer likes to take big cuts at the ball, on the forehand side particularly so, and the slow courts in Indian Wells should give him the opportunity to do so. However, he may still struggle to hit through Monfils. The Frenchman’s speed around the court is electric and he regularly retrieves shots that few others could. He also has power of his own. He can strike his forehand with real authority when he opens his shoulders and his first serve is also a useful shot. Where he struggles, at times, is with his decision making. But he has looked dialled in of late and should have enough to get past Mayer.

Monfils in two.
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Nick Kyrgios vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (third on Stadium 2)

Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios will seek to extend his head-to-head advantage over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber to 2-0 when the pair clash in the second round. Kyrgios has beaten three top ten players, and another Grand Slam champion to boot, in the last two weeks, but Kohlschreiber has played some of the best tennis of his career in Indian Wells. Indeed, last season he reached the quarterfinals in the Californian desert and he may like his chances against the big-serving Australian.

However, he will struggle to overpower Kyrgios. The world #33’s game was firing on all cylinders in Acapulco as he reminded the world as to the depths of his talent. His serve was as difficult to read as ever and his forehand was doing serious damage to his opponents. Kohlschreiber does not have the weaponry to match that offensive output. But he is impressively consistent and covers the court well. Unfortunately for Kohlschreiber, if Kyrgios plays the sort of tennis he did in Mexico, it will take more than that to stop him.

Kyrgios in two.
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Novak Djokovic vs Bjorn Fratangelo (fourth on Stadium 1)

Enter the champion-elect. Novak Djokovic, who earlier this season stormed to his seventh Australian Open title, is the undisputed favourite to end this tournament lifting the trophy aloft. His first obstacle to overcome in pursuit of that goal is Bjorn Fratangelo of the US. They have met once before, three years ago and also in Indian Wells. Fratangelo looked to be on the way to a famous upset when he took the first set off Djokovic for the loss of just two games. But the Serb found his range in the second and swept Fratangelo aside, winning 2-6 6-1 6-2.

Djokovic and Fratangelo play a broadly similar game. Neither has an obvious weapon, both move well and typically give up few errors. But Djokovic plays that game with an intensity that currently none can match. He excels at taking the ball on the rise, allowing him to impart more spin and pace to the ball whilst also taking time away from his opponents. He also has a fine first serve, an excellent second and is arguably the greatest returner of all time. In short, he is without weakness. Fratangelo, whose groundstrokes lack penetration and whose second serve can be exposed, is not.

Djokovic in two.

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