Indian Wells – Round 3rd + 4th
Matthew Ebden  has notched the second big result in a ‘1000’ event as a qualifier. Last year in Shanghai he advanced to the quarter-finals, this week at Indian Wells after two wins in qualifying rounds, overcame again three hurdles in the main draw. In the third round he ousted (6-3, 6-4) a Top 10 player for the first time – Mardy Fish, who has been completely out of form since last year’s semifinal in Tokyo (5-11 record since then). There was some controversy at 4 all (deuce) in the 2nd set, Fish played a drop-volley and shouted “come on!” before the second bounce. The chair umpire decided to award the point to Ebden, although the Australian had very slim chance to extend the rally. It seems it’s a year finishing a generation of the best American players of the previous decade. Andy Roddick slipped outside the Top 30 for the first time since 2001, and couldn’t do too much against Berdych in the third round. Robby Ginepri loses regularly in the 1st or 2nd round, James Blake has just played one tournament in the last five months… In this circumstances John Isner becomes the new hope of the American tennis. He hasn’t lost yet a service game in three matches (all on Stadium 2), and hasn’t been even forced to play a tie-break. I assume he should advance to the Top 10 after Miami, Fish will drop then and never come back.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to David Nalbandian  a fourth round match in weird circumstances. The Frenchman was serving for the victory at 5:4 (30-0) in the 2nd set, he missed a volley having an open court, threw the racquet, caught his head in disbelief which was in my opinion totally unnecessary at this stage. A moment later he had a match point, but made a ground-stroke error, Nalbandian leveled up and never looked back producing a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 win in 2 hours 18 minutes.
A 3-time champion of the tournament, Roger Federer needed three sets in back-to-back matches to advance to the quarterfinals. He finally met Milos Raonic, and there happened what I had expected, Raonic was winning his service games as long as the percentage of his 1st serve was good, when it dropped to 50%, Federer broke him three times to get a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory. The Swiss was pushed to 6-4 in the 3rd set also in another encounter against Thomaz Bellucci . The Brazilian showed surprisingly good tennis, hitting the ball clearly, but didn’t stand the pressure serving to stay in the match.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are on a collision course to play another final against each other, both won their matches convincingly, albeit Djokovic due to temporal lack of concentration dropped a tie-break set to Pablo Andujar (6-0, 6-7, 6-2). They played each other in an under-16 match in Belgium. “I had six match points, and I lost that match 7-6 in the third set,” Djokovic said. “We joke around a bit at the times when we were growing up.”
Gilles Simon  has become a comical specialist of winning matches in which he loses a m.p.-up set, has already won 8 matches of this type # (two this week). In a grueling battle on Stadium 2 during night session with Ryan Harrison for a quarterfinal spot, he wasted a 5:2* lead and three match points in the 2nd set, but kept his composure to get a 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 win (in the 1st set saved a double set point).
Juan Martin del Potro has been lately involved in tight sets everywhere. In the third round he dismissed Fernando Verdasco saving six set points (a triple s.p. at *4:5 and double s.p. at 4:6 in the tie-break). In his following match against No. 51 Denis Istomin (made an upset eliminating David Ferrer, who came to Indian Wells with two South American titles under his belt), saved again a triple set point in the ninth game of the 2nd set, this time on return, and led 5:3 in the tie-break only to lose the set, eventually winning 7-6, 6-7, 6-2.
# Simon’s wins despite losing a m.p.-up set:
Palermo ’06: A.Seppi 6-0 6-7(6) 6-2 – 3 mp
Marseille ’08: N.Djokovic 6-2 6-7(6) 6-3 – 1 mp
Cincinnati ’09: I.Andreev 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-1 – 1 mp
Eastbourne ’10: E.Korolev 6-3 6-7(6) 6-4 – 1 mp
Davis Cup ’10: E.Schwank 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-3 – 2 mp
Cincinnati ’11: D.Ferrer 6-4 6-7(3) 6-4 – 4 mp
Indian Wells ’12: D.Sela 7-5 6-7(6) 6-4 – 2 mp
Indian Wells ’12: R.Harrison 7-6(0) 5-7 6-1 – 3 mp
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