Sean Calvert’s ATP Indian Wells Monday Preview

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Round three of the men’s singles at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open begins at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Monday, with eight matches scheduled on day five of the main draw.

We enjoyed a couple of handy underdog winners on Friday at Indian Wells when Alejandro Tabilo beat Denis Kudla for a 2.35 winner and Gianluca Mager defeated Marton Fucsovics to provide a 3.35 success.

And round three of the men’s singles at Indian Wells has been a pretty good one for the underdogs in recent times, with 47% of them winning in the last three editions and 36% on average in the last 10 editions.

Monday’s weather is set to be warm and sunny (up to 28C in the shade), but there’ll be quite a lot of wind around – up to 20mph between 3pm and 9pm local time – so the outside courts might be affected by that, but the men’s singles matches are all on the more protected Stadium courts.

We’ve got an outright in action on Monday and it’s always fun to hear your pick say of the tournament: “Indian Wells is my least favourite tournament.”

“Every brand needs to do a photoshoot and you don’t have time to practice,” Reilly Opelka – who’s sponsored by Red Bull (among others) – said.

“They’re four or five-hour photo shoots and you’re completely tired. Tennis is secondary. I hate it.”

Based on the fact that Opelka doesn’t sound like he’s in a mood to hang around long if things don’t go his way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grigor Dimitrov – who himself doesn’t have the greatest history at Indian Wells – beat the big American.

Dimitrov has never won back-to-back matches at Indian Wells in his career (6-7 win/loss) and maybe it’s just not quick enough for the Bulgarian to play his best tennis here, but he looked good last week and in his opening match this week.

Opelka beat Dimitrov on outdoor hard in Toronto a few months ago, but Dimitrov has a good record against big servers (10-3 win/loss on outdoor hard against the ones in my database).

Conditions here should be ideal for Opelka and I’m not going to go against my outright, but if he’s in the wrong mindset this could be an opportunity for Dimitrov.

Filip Krajinovic beat Daniil Medvedev here as a 2.94 chance in 2019 and conditions aren’t ideal for the US Open champion here at Indian Wells.

Krajinovic also took the Russian to five sets in more suitable conditions for Medvedev at the Australian Open at the start of this season before running out of gas in the fifth, so Krajinovic shouldn’t be written off here.

Their head-to-head from those two meeting shows that it’s actually Krajinovic who’s won more points on second serve (54% compared to 49%) and Medvedev has only held serve slightly more often (80% compared to 77%).

Given how much harder it is to hit winners and finish points off here at Indian Wells – and this will be a night match in the slowest conditions of the day – it’s worth risking Krajinovic to win a set at what looks a decent price at 4.80 (BoyleSports).

Frances Tiafoe has been a thorn in my side on the outrights this hard court summer, taking down a couple of my picks and losing tamely when I was on his side, so the idea of him taking on Hubert Hurkacz isn’t without its concerns.

Tiafoe has looked good here so far in comfortable wins over Benoit Paire and Seb Korda and I hope that Hurkacz hasn’t overplayed in going to San Diego right after winning Metz.

On the stats of their outdoor hard court matches at main level in the last 12 months, Hurkacz has compiled an impressive service hold/break total of 109.6, while Tiafoe is a little behind on 104.6, so purely on that the prices seem about right here.

We know Tiafoe loves the big stage and can be a danger to most when he gets hot, so this could be tricky for Hurkacz, but Tiafoe was 1-4 win/loss here before this tournament and it might be a little too slow for him.

Talking of Tiafoe, it was the American can really benefitted from Denis Shapovalov having a shocker on a windy day in Toronto a few months back and if it’s set to be a similarly gusty day today he might struggle with his timing.

I’m not sure that I particularly fancy his opponent Aslan Karatsev though in these conditions, where it’s not that easy to hit winners, so I think I’ll pass on that one.

I can say ‘I was there’ when Cam Norrie beat Roberto Bautista Agut from two sets down on clay in Marbella in Davis Cup in February 2018 as a 10.44 chance, but you won’t get anything like that today on the Brit.

That was their only career clash so far and Norrie was ranked 114 in the world that day – now he’s rated a 1.77 favourite to beat RBA, whose 2021 hold/break stats are behind those of Norrie by about five percent, so at first glance the prices look about right.

RBA only won 39% of his second serve points against another patient leftie in Guido Pella the other day and the Spaniard hasn’t won back-to-back matches at Indian Wells since 2014, so I’m not in a rush to back him today.

I wonder how easy Andrey Rublev will find the conditions today in the night match on Stadium 3 against Tommy Paul?

He’s found Paul to be a stubborn opponent in their career series so far and only won 49% of his second serve points in his three clashes (two on clay, one on hard) against the American, who’s won 51% of his second serve points.

The big difference has been on first serve, with Rublev winning 76% of his first serve points and Paul only managing 56%, so it’s clear where Paul needs to improve in this match-up.

On a surface where Rublev will find it tough to hit winners he may have to go long again to defy Paul and of the conditions, Rublev said: “At night it’s super, super slow. It’s a huge difference if you practise in the afternoon.”

Paul was a little fortunate that Dusan Lajovic was so poor against him in the last round, but now that he’s won a couple of matches he’ll be feeling confident again and I don’t mind taking the 2-1 to Rublev here at 4.33 (William Hill).

Conditions should heavily favour the in-form Casper Ruud over Lloyd Harris, and similarly Diego Schwartzman will be tough for Dan Evans to put away on this surface.

The latter pair faced off in Cincy a couple of months back in quicker conditions and Schwartzman was a pretty comfortable winner in three sets then (16 more points scored, 12% more points won on first serve and 9% more on second serve).

Evans won only 44% of his second serve points against Kei Nishikori in round two and I’m not seeing enough to make me want to back Evans at only a slightly bigger price (2.40 compared to 2.30) than he was in Cincy.

So, I’ll take a couple of the bigger priced ones today, with Krajinovic looking decent value at 4.80 to take a set off Medvedev and Rublev at 4.33 to beat Paul 2-1.

Best Bets

1 point win Krajinovic to win a set at 4.80 (BoyleSports)

0.5 points win Rublev to beat Paul 2-1 at 4.33 (William Hill)