Seeds come in to play on Day 3 of the 2021 ATP Indian Wells Masters. Hubert Hurkacz takes on Alexei Popyrin in what seems to be a highly entertaining matchup. Meanwhile, Dan Evans will try to take revenge over Kei Nishikori, who defeated him in the second round here four years ago. Who do you think will prevail?
As always, we predict all of the day’s matches. The other matches are split between three other articles. One features Denis Shapovalov vs Vasek Pospisil, the second highlights Daniil Medvedev vs Mackenzie MacDonald, and the third features Andrey Rublev vs Carlos Taberner.
ATP Indian Wells Day 3 Predictions
Taro Daniel vs Reilly Opelka
Head-to-head: Opelka 1-0
The slow hard court conditions could very well be a blessing in disguise for Reilly Opelka. He definitely likes the additional time on the ball and the higher bounce not forcing him to bend the knees as much. His kick serve should also shine in such a scenario. Opelka’s campaign this year has been very streaky, but even if slightly off his best, he should be able to power through an opponent who can’t force him to play on his terms.
Prediction: Opelka in 2
Guido Pella vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 3-0
Guido Pella gave the more experienced Spaniard trouble in the past, but everything is pointing towards a fairly comfortable win this time around. Roberto Bautista Agut hasn’t had his best-ever season, but he remains the incredibly solid and feisty competitor that really gets under the skin of his opponents. Pella, meanwhile, has been a shadow of himself pretty much since the pandemic and owns a rather humble 8-16 win/loss record for the season.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
Alexei Popyrin vs Hubert Hurkacz
Head-to-head: First meeting
This should be a fun watch. Hubert Hurkacz is coming off a title at Metz, but looked gassed losing to Aslan Karatsev last week in San Diego. Now that he’s gotten some rest, though, he should be dangerous again. Alexei Popyrin has a big game that’s reliant on serve and could definitely eliminate the Pole if he gets him on a day off. However, Hurkacz matches him in the serve department and feels very comfortable counter-punching, which should help him make Popyrin play one ball too many in enough rallies to prevail.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 3
Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans
Head-to-head: Nishikori 3-1
One of their previous meetings came in Indian Wells but a lot has changed over the years. Kei Nishikori is not amongst the elite anymore, not really due to his level suddenly going down, but rather constant health issues that led to it. Dan Evans has been the best version of himself he’s ever been and came very close to upsetting the Japanese at Roland Garros earlier this year, on a surface that’s a lot less favorable for him (especially in this matchup). He should be able to impose his own game style here, especially as Nishikori is no longer as threatening from the baseline anymore. It’s a tough call though.
Prediction: Evans in 3
Main Photo from Getty.