Five Unseeded And Dangerous Players In Indian Wells
With first-round matches beginning on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open, ATPTour.com looks at five unseeded players who could make plenty of noise in the draw.
After a relatively slow start to his comeback last year, Wawrinka is quickly rising back up the ATP Rankings in 2019. The Swiss star defeated Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori en route to a runner-up finish at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Monfils), in addition to quarter-final showings at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
Wawrinka’s challenging draw could see him potentially face fourth seed Roger Federer in the third round, a rematch of the 2017 Indian Wells final. Although he is 3-21 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Federer, all of those wins have come in Masters 1000 events or Grand Slams.
Berdych’s current form defies his current ATP Ranking of No. 81. He returned to action this season after missing seven months with a back injury, but didn’t need any time to shake off the match rust. The 33-year-old is 12-5 in 2019 after highlights including a runner-up finish in Doha (l. to Bautista Agut) and fourth-round showing at the Australian Open.
Berdych finds himself in a relatively favourable section of the draw that sees him avoiding any of the top four seeds until at least the quarter-finals. Should he and eighth seed John Isner progress to the fourth round, the Czech player leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 7-2. The Czech player has reached at least the quarter-finals in Indian Wells on three occasions (2010, 2013, 2015) and is playing well enough to do it again
The #NextGenATP American created one of the biggest storylines this year by reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, but he has gone 1-3 in ATP Tour events since then. However, Tiafoe always plays well on home soil and thrives on battling the world’s top players in big stadiums.
If the American can get through his section that includes No. 22 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and No. 16 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy, he could face Federer in the fourth round. Although Tiafoe is winless against Federer in their three previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, he pushed the Swiss star to five sets at the 2017 US Open and would relish the challenge.
At age 40, Karlovic is living proof that age truly is just a number. The Croatian pondered retirement at the end of last season, but is back in business after starting the year with a runner-up showing at the Tata Open Maharashtra (l. To Anderson).
The 21-year-old American has jumped 40 spots in the ATP Rankings this year on the back of his first ATP Tour title at the New York Open (d. Schnur) and first Grand Slam main draw win at the Australian Open against Isner. At 6’11”, his big serve and booming forehand will be a daunting prospect for anyone he faces in the draw.