In our previous article, we offered an accumulator of five Second Round matches, and all five of them (Tiafoe, Draper, Rune, Alcaraz and Paul) won in straight sets to give us a 3.87/1 win! Our Third Round accumulators that we tweeted out were less successful, with both of them losing thanks to Norrie dropping a set and Khachanov losing. Nevertheless, we have still had a decent tournament so far: up 3.59 units!
We are now entering the business end of the event, where the bigger names are starting to face off against one another. There are already a few heavyweight clashes on the horizon, such as the first match that I (Luke) have previewed.
Rublev to beat Norrie 2/3
Andrey Rublev has impressed me in the last few weeks, playing the best tennis I have seen from him in some time in Dubai where he reached the Final (lost to Medvedev). He also came through a tough test in his opening match against Lehecka with a 6-4 6-2 win, and made no mistake against Humbert in another straight sets win. 2021 Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie had to fight hard against Daniel in the previous round, coming from a set and 4-1 down to eventually get the win in three sets. Daniel put in an excellent performance, particularly for the first half of the match, displaying patient aggression and being dominant behind serve. Norrie on the other hand was making a few more errors than usual, but managed to turn it around which he has a knack of doing.
This is very much what we like to call a cat-and-mouse matchup: Rublev being the aggressive player and Norrie the defensive player, and there will be a lot of rallies with Rublev on the front foot and Norrie on the backfoot. One thing Norrie has going for him in this matchup is his very flat backhand: even on these bouncy courts he was able to keep it very low against Daniel, which was effective, and will cause Rublev some problems. However, there is little margin for error with it, and I feel that given Norrie’s lefty crosscourt backhand goes into Rublev’s very powerful forehand, he is going to have to hit it almost perfectly or he will be punished. Norrie can also utilise his whippy topspin crosscourt forehand to create angles, drawing Rublev out of position and creating space to attack into. However, Rublev’s backhand is solid and he moves well enough to be able to counter it effectively. In addition to this, Rublev’s serve and plus one combination will mean that he will still be able to get cheap points even on a slow surface against one of the best movers on tour. These factors, as well as Rublev’s recent form, give him the advantage in this matchup, and make him worth his 2/3 price. However, don’t be surprised if Norrie puts up a strong fight and drags it to three sets.
Medvedev to beat Zverev 2/7
Daniil Medvedev is probably the best player in the world at the moment. He is currently on a 16-match winning streak, having beaten Auger-Aliassime twice, Djokovic, Sinner and Rublev, and won titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai. After a fairly routine win against Nakashima, he did drop a set to Ivashka and was complaining that Indian Wells was the slowest court on the tour. He did recover to take the final set 6-1, and I don’t really see why conditions here shouldn’t suit him. He does hit a fairly flat ball which can sit up a bit on a slow hard court, but he has a huge serve which he gets cheap points with on any surface and has freakishly good defensive skills and movement. Alex Zverev, having looked off the pace at the start of the year, has shown promising signs in the past few weeks. He played well despite losing to Murray in Doha, and beat Lehecka and Sonego on his way to the Semi Finals in Dubai, where he lost to an inspired Rublev. He rode his luck a bit against Ruusuvuori in the previous round here, who played an excellent match and probably should have won, but couldn’t get over the line. Whilst he is playing well, he is not at his best level yet, and I think he needs that to beat an in-form Medvedev. They have had some great battles in the past: their head to head is tied at 6-6, with Medvedev winning 6 of the last 8 meetings. In these conditions, Zverev is going to have to take a lot of risks and make a lot of balls over three sets to get past Medvedev, which I don’t think he is able to do at this stage of his recovery from an injury that sidelined him for half a year.
Davidovich Fokina to beat Garin 4/9
The enigmatic Spaniard has been in great form in Indian Wells so far: beating the in-form Yibing Wu 6-4 6-1 and then outlasting Khachanov in three sets. These conditions should really suit Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: the slow surface allows the ball to sit up, meaning he can hit extreme power off both sides, and he is also a very good mover, meaning even someone as powerful as Khachanov struggled to get the ball past him. Cristian Garin has won 5 matches so far: two in qualifying, and 3 in the main draw against Galan, Nishioka and 3rd seed Ruud, all without dropping a set. I do think that run will stop here though. Garin used the net well against Ruud in the previous round, but I don’t think that gameplan will work against Foki simply because he hits every ball so hard, which makes it very difficult to control volleys even at the top level. Furthermore, I think Foki will be able to exploit Garin’s backhand, which is a bit of a weakness particularly when time is taken away from him. The Chilean qualifier will also struggle to get any rhythm from Foki: he usually hits a lot of winners and also a lot of unforced errors. He will probably have mental lapses, as he often does, which slightly concerns me, but I think he has so much going for him in this matchup that means he should outplay Garin for the majority and get the win.
Tiafoe to beat Tabilo 2-0 8/11
The American Frances Tiafoe has barely broken a sweat so far: hammering Giron 6-2 6-2 (which we tipped in our last article) and Kubler 6-3 6-2. He has shown his class in these conditions, and is ready to make a deep run after the biggest seed in his section of the draw Tsitsipas was knocked out early. Like Garin, countryman Alejandro Tabilo has also won 5 matches this tournament: qualifying and then beating Marterer, Cressy and Thompson to make the Fourth Round. This week will do wonders for Tabilo’s ranking, which currently sits at 187 in the world, which is hard to believe if you have seen him play. He is a very aggressive player, with a dangerous lefty serve and forehand, particularly on clay or slower hard like this. However, Tiafoe is a big step up from anyone Tabilo has played so far. Tiafoe is an excellent mover, so despite Tabilo’s power he will have a harder time in previous matches in getting the ball past him. Tiafoe hits a powerful ball himself, meaning that Tabilo won’t get as many chances to attack and get on top of the rally as he would like. Tiafoe also has a bit more variety to his game, meaning if things aren’t going well he can try to throw Tabilo off his rhythm. Furthermore, Tiafoe has the experience of going deep in big events, such as the US Open last year, and I think he will take this opportunity with both hands.
It is worth noting that at 1/4 ML, those odds are also worth it for a safer or longer accumulator. However, in a fairly short accumulator like this, I think set betting 2-0 at 8/11 is worth the risk.