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Ricky’s Tennis Picks • Preview • Indian Wells Quarterfinals: Nadal vs. Khachanov, Federer vs. Hurkacz

People watch from the top of the stand during the Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 14 March 2019. The men's and women's final will be played, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH
People watch from the top of the stand during the Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 14 March 2019. The men’s and women’s final will be played, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will be back on the court for the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. Karen Khachanov and Hubert Hurkacz are standing the way of a potential semifinal showdown between the two all-time greats. Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

 

(12) Karen Khachanov vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Karen Khachanov of Russia in action against John Isner of United States during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2019. The men's and women's final will be played, 17 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

Karen Khachanov of Russia in action against John Isner of United States during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2019. The men’s and women’s final will be played, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

Nadal and Khachanov will be facing each other for the sixth time in their careers. This matchup could hardly be more lopsided, as Nadal is sweeping it 5-0 overall and 12-1 in total sets. On the bright side for Khachanov, their most recent encounter was by far their most entertaining; the Spaniard prevailed 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(3) in the third round of last summer’s U.S. Open.

Conditions in Indian Wells are more favorable for Nadal, who is 53-10 lifetime in the desert with three titles. He has advanced this fortnight with routine defeats of Jared Donaldson, Diego Schwartzman, and Filip Krajinovic.

“I probably played a little bit worse today than yesterday,” Nadal assessed. “Maybe because of the conditions; [it was] windier out there today. But in general terms, (it has) been a positive victory again. (I’m) happy the way I played.”

Khachanov had been in a surprising slump this year, with a losing record (4-5) prior to this tournament. But the Russian is back in business now following victories over Feliciano Lopez, Andrey Rublev, and John Isner. Khachanov will take some confidence from the U.S. Open, but this court is playing too slow for him to hit through Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 2

 

Hubert Hurkacz vs. (4) Roger Federer

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Kyle Edmund of Great Britain during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2019. The men's and women's final will be played, 17 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Kyle Edmund of Great Britain during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2019. The men’s and women’s final will be played, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Federer is coming off career title No. 100 in Dubai and his bid for No. 200–well, at least for No. 101–is alive and well at the BNP Paribas Open. The world No. 4 is on an eight-match winning streak and has won 13 sets in a row following Indian Wells wins over Peter Gojowyczk, Stan Wawrinka, and Kyle Edmund. Federer is 11-1 in 2019 and he is 65-12 lifetime at this tournament with five titles.

Next up for the 37-year-old Swiss is a first-ever meeting with Hurkacz, who is in the midst of a breakout fortnight. That’s not to say he was entirely unheard of prior to this run; in fact, the 22-year-old Pole upset Kei Nishikori last month in Dubai and did the same during third-round action in Indian Wells. Hurkacz, ranked 67th, has also taken out Donald Young, Lucas Pouille, and Denis Shapovalov.

“I enjoy it,” Federer said of facing opponents for the first time. “Hurkacz, he’s also up and coming, so that’s fun. Kyle, the same thing. I have never played him before other than practice. It’s nice to see what they have in the matches and really get a sense how much more we will see of them. For me, at a top level, I like it that I’m not playing the same guys every single week.”

Clearly Hurkacz is unafraid of the big stage, but this is by far the most high-profile match of his career and he has to be fatigued physically, as well, having survived a trio of three-setters.

Prediction: Federer in 2

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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