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before the draw, chris’ preview of the men



by Chris Phillips

We’re taking a break form the Davis Cup ties to think about how the guys will fare at Indian Wells. Weather forecasts showing that day matches will be played in the low 80s and night matches’ll dip down into the 50s. Brr. (Yes, CHILLY. Some of you might consider that a heat wave, but anything below 65 causes us to bundle up and set fire to anything that can keep us warm). Players also have to factor in some unpredictability in the form of gusty winds, which rattles even the steadiest of players. Here are our thoughts on the guys in the top 10 and some other notables:

Rafael Nadal: This will be the Spaniard’s first test after that injury at the Aussie Open. This weekend’s Davis Cup matches don’t count since his toughest Belgian opponent will be Olivier Rochus. At Indian Wells, Rafa is Rafa but I predict that he’ll lose to a top 20 player in the later rounds but make a better run — if not win — Miami.

Roger Federer: Other than Monfils at Bercy (3 tiebreak sets) and Murray in Shanghai and Toronto, the only guy who’s been able to beat Roger in the past 6 months has been Novak Djokovic (and even so Nole is still down 3-4 since the beginning of 2010). But while these stats are in R-Fed’s favor, consider this one that isn’t: Roger hasn’t taken Indian Wells since 2006. I predict that he’ll extend that streak through 2011.

Novak Djokovic: His is probably the only case where winning a Davis Cup turned someone around. After Serbia took the 2010 title, Nole’s been 12-0 (titles in Melbourne and Dubai). This BNP Paribas Open is his title to lose.

Robin Soderling: If anyone’s had as good a year as Nole, it’s Soderling who’s 17-1 already capturing three titles in just as many months (Brisbane, Rotterdam, Marseille). That being said, the only success the Swedish Sod has had at Indian Wells was last year when he took out Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in route to losing to Andy Roddick in the semis. Depending on draws I think you can pencil him into the quarters or semis again.

Andy Murray: Oh Andy, Andy, Andy. You made it to the Aussie finals in rather convincing fashion and you’ve lost your last two matches in an even more convincing fashion. A lot of pundits think you have a slam in you, but I’m not one of them. We’re putting our money on you making the quarters, none better. And if we’re thinking up an early upset special (without seeing the draws), you’d be the main ingredient. That Australian Open loss is still in your head and will take a while to work itself out.

David Ferrer: Two titles in 2011 already? Do not collect $200 on your way to the semifinals.

Tomas Berdych: He’s only had one good win on the year (d. Verdasco). We expect him to match his best IW performance — which was getting to the quarters last year.

Andy Roddick: He’s got finalist points to defend here from last year (and that match against Ljubicic was his to lose). So far Andy’s 12-2 on the year with losses only to Soderling and Wawrinka. He looked good in his win in Memphis (over Raonic) and his Indian Wells track record ain’t bad: semis 4 of the last 6 years here (and quarterfinals 6 out of 8 here). Depending on how the draw plays out, Roddick’s got a good chance to reach the semis but I think defending those finalist points will be a tall task.

Fernando Verdasco I let out a shriek of sadness when they dismantled FeVer’s CK billboard on Sunset Blvd. (but now we have Rafa’s Armani ad, so life is good!). With his best win of the year being over 49th-ranked Istomin, we’re putting Fernando to fall in the Round of 32.

Jurgen Melzer: We see him doing just as good as his seeding. And after based on this past weekend’s Davis Cup performance, maybe even earlier.

Nicolas Almagro:: Sadly, one can’t leverage great clay court performances for a hard court title. We’re putting down money for him to the get to the quarters. Maybe.

Juan Martin Del Potro: If any player can make some noise in this tournament it’s Delpo (taking the reins from another persistent IW troublemaker, David Nalbandian). He impressed us with his play (even in his losses) during this early spring swing on the American hard courts. One concern: fatigue; this’ll be his fifth tournament of the year. We’re picking him to upset Roger or Rafa — if the draw pans out.

Mardy Fish: If he’s healthy, we’re expecting him to go deep. Remember: he took out three top-ten players (Roger, Kolya, and Nalbandian) before pushing Nole to three sets at this tournament in 2008.

Sam Querrey and John Isner: We got nothin’. Hoping Isner can shake off those Capdeville nightmares before his first round match.

Alexandr Dolgopolov: Even with wins over Soderling and Tsonga in Melbourne, we’re wondering if Dolgopolov will adjust to the hard courts of Indian Wells after spending the last month on clay.

Milos Raonic: Ahh, that other young canadian making folks swoon south of the 49th. Let’s hope taking a week off (for good reason) doesn’t ruin your mojo coming in.

Kevin Anderson/Ivan Dodig/Tommy Robredo: We’re wondering how to read the tea leaves for these guys, each of whom have bagged titles in 2011. Anderson’s big-serving pony is getting boring. We’re already waiting for what Wayne Ferreira‘s offspring will do for South African tennis. This will be Dodig’s first time playing Indian Wells, so we’re watching. And we mention Tommy a bit for nostalgia’s sake. The top 20 just isn’t the same without his consistency; he always lives up to his seeding — never loses before he should and never wins matches he shouldn’t.

trophy watch: hold up that boo-boo, boo



We know, we’ve been a little Andy-crazy the last 24 hours, but really y’all, the dude is holding this boring trophy, looking so dang proud of himself and flashing a battle wound. That. Is. So. Cool. Seriousssssssssly. (AP photo)

Oh right, the ladies were playing in Memphis, too. At left, winner Magdalena Rybarikova beat Canadian Rebecca Marino. (Getty Images)

Is it just us, or is Nicolas Almagro getting cuter? The Spaniard won in Brazil for his second-straight ATP title in two weeks.  (AP photo) More trophies (and their holders) after the cut.

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the raonic-dancevic equation



by Benjamin Snyder

IS MILOS RAONIC THE READ DEAL? OR FRANK DANCEVIC, VERSION 2.0? Move aside Greg Rusedski, there’s a new (and real) Canadian hotshot in town. No, not you Frank Dancevic. You’ve already had your fifteen minutes. Well, okay, try most of 2007. But, apparently there’s only room enough for one top Canuck at a time. Now, we’re talking the big-serving, big-sized, giant-killer Milos Raonic, whose recent charge through the top-tier of the ATP tour has many talking, including Greg on his Twitter :

But before we get all hot and bothered by Milos the Great, let’s not forget Dancevic’s 15 minutes of fame. Is Raonic bound for a similar destiny? To find out, here’s a breakdown of the games, the fashions, and the Canadian quirks of the two.

Similarity number one: both Frank and Milos have failed to pass the first round at the U.S. Open. While Frank has lost in the qualifying the last couple years, Milos succumbed to Carsten Ball in 2010′s first round. Of course, with the way Milos is playing, that dismal record should soon be a thing of the past. For Frank: not so much.

Going along with Milos’ big results, we have our first key difference: the young Canadian gun has actually won an ATP title. Taking out Fernando Verdasco at the SAP Open, he got what eluded Dancevic on two separate occasions: a tour victory. Take that, Anna Kournikova! Not to mention there’s that surprise run to the Aussie Open fourth round versus Dancevic’s second round in ’07. Another difference: Milos is set to crack the top 50 after a recent semifinal showing at Memphis, besting Frankie’s career-high of 65 from 2007.

Read more on Milos and Frank (and see Frank flexing some bicep) after the cut. [Read more...]

trophy watch: there’s a hole in my trophy, dear liza!



Petra Kvitova slayed the biggest giant of all this weekend in Paris: new world no. 1 and Aussie Open winner Kim Clijsters, 6-4 6-3 in the final. Isn’t there something missing from her trophy though? Like… a big chunk of it??

Meanwhile, over in San Jose, Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man to win an ATP title in 16 years. His prize(s)? A Sharks jersey and bottle of maple syrup. I mean, jeez, don’t paint him as Canadian or anything…

Check out Daniela in Thailand, Soderling in Rotterdam and more of the isn’t-there-something-missing trophy of Kvitova’s.

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milos' melbourne mastery



Which one doesn’t belong? That would be the fella on the far left – Vasek Pospisil – who is the only man among these four pictured who isn’t still alive and well in the Australian Open draw. That other unfamiliar face – second from left – is one Milos Raonic, a 20-year-old Canadian who has advanced to the fourth round of the AO with a four-set win today over 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny. In six matches (including three qualifying wins), Raonic has dropped just two sets. He’ll face no. 7 seed David Ferrer in the Round of 16.

More: Montreal Gazette‘s Stephanie Myles on tennis’ changing guard | Canadians on TSF

(photo via popout.com)