As we continue with Day 6 of the ATP Indian Wells Masters, the tournament is truly going now with seeds facing off against each other in the third round. As always, we here at LWOT will predict every match, with the other four matches in a separate article. Who will continue their adventure in the desert?
Gael Monfils vs Kevin Anderson
Head-to-head: Monfils 5-1 Anderson
Monfils continued his strong hard-court season by beating Gianluca Mager 6-4 6-2 in the second round. The 35-year-old has reached two quarterfinals at Indian Wells previously, the slow hard courts suiting his game to a tee. His next opponent, former No. 5 Kevin Anderson, will be quite different than the clay-loving Mager.
The South African has been struggling with injuries in the past few years. Wven despite his impressive title run at Newport, he hasn’t been able to win matches consistently. Surprisingly enough, Anderson has had good results at Indian Wells, reaching the quarterfinals three times. The 35-year-old has started well this time too with straight-set wins over Jordan Thompson and Lorenzo Sonego. Both of these players are past their best, but Monfils dominates their head-to-head despite losing their most recent match at Wimbledon in 2018. The Frenchman is still a very good returner which should limit Anderson’s biggest weapon, especially on this slow surface.
Prediction: Monfils in 3
Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Head-to-head: Ramos-Vinolas 0-1 Basilashvili
Ramos-Vinolas has looked dominant so far in Indian Wells, beating the struggling Lorenzo Musetti 6-1 6-3 before pulling off a big upset over seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, also in impressive fashion. The Spaniard has had solid early round results at Indian Wells, this being his sixth third-round appearance here out of eight times he’s played the event. He has never made it past the third round though, and his next opponent, Nikoloz Basilashvili will try to make sure of that again.
The Georgian has had a strong season with titles in Doha and Munich and reached the third round consistently during the hard-court season, but this is his first third round at Indian Wells in five attempts. Basilashvili started with a straight sets win over Christopher Eubanks but Ramos-Vinolas’ game is better suited for this surface and has looked in better form here, so I expect the lefty to pull through.
Prediction: Ramos-Vinolas in 2
John Isner vs Jannik Sinner
Head-to-head: Isner 1-0 Sinner
The 20-year-old Sinner has taken another step in his career this season, breaking into the Top 15 after a year where he reached the Miami final and won Washington, Sofia, and the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne. The young Italian is carrying a five-match win streak into this third-round match-up, taking the title in Sofia and getting a straightforward win over John Millman in his Indian Wells debut.
His opponent, the 36-year-old John Isner, had a good US Open Series despite the first-round loss to Brandon Nakashima in New York. The American took the title in Atlanta and reached the semifinals of Toronto, as well as getting a three-set win over Sinner in Cincinnati. Despite Isner’s strong history at Indian Wells, where the 36-year-old has reached at least the fourth round seven times, including a 2012 final, Sinner is the favorite for me as the slower-than-usual conditions this year should almost neutralize Isner’s serve and Sinner is far superior in rallies.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Editor’s Note: After this article was written, Isner withdrew from the tournament for the birth of his child.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Fabio Fognini
Head-to-head: Fognini 0-2 Tsitsipas
World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas has had a good season so far. He is 52-15 on the year, winning titles in Monte Carlo and Lyon, and reached the Roland Garros final. The Greek didn’t have a great US Open, losing to Carlos Alcaraz in the third round in a five-set classic. Tsitsipas won his first match here, defeating Pedro Martinez, and has made it to the third round for the first time in Indian Wells. His record in the desert was 1-2 before this year.
The draw gods have been nice to him, though, as he next faces Fabio Fognini–who has struggled since the Olympics and entered Indian Wells in the middle of a three-match losing streak. The Italian broke it as he overcame Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets in his second-round opener. Tsitsipas has won their previous two meetings in straight sets. I would be surprised if it doesn’t go the same way for him this time.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 2
Main Photo from Getty.