Two big stars and veterans of the ATP tour face off in a interesting clash at the BNP Paribas Open, with 6th seed Tomas Berdych taking on Juan Martin del Potro. This is set to be the second match in Stadium 1, and the winner will face Borna Coric or 29th seed Thomaz Bellucci in the third round.
So Far In Indian Wells
As a seed, Berdych has not yet played in California, so this is his first match since a quarterfinal loss to Nick Kyrgios in Dubai. Berdych has had a solid, if unspectacular season, so far and he will be fairly satisfied with his overall level of tennis.
Despite having played hardly any tournaments over the past two years, del Potro impressed in his opening match with a comfortable win 6-4, 6-0 over Tim Smyczek, taking just over an hour to seal the win. That was certainly a strong win for the Argentine and he'll look to play just as well, if not better, against Berdych today.
Del Potro is lacking match practice and to give himself a decent chance he must play just as well as he did on Thursday. Against Smyczek, he had a first serve percentage of 79 percent and won 80 percent of points played from his first serve; similar stats against Berdych will certainly increase his chances of winning. The Argentine also saved the only break point against him against Smyczek, and will need to limit the number of opportunities he gives to the world number seven. His overall game, not only his serve but also his powerful groundstrokes, will certainly need to be near their best, though, most importantly, del Potro should go out there with no fear.
Berdych will need to deal the pressure of being the heavy favorite, though he is quite strong mentally and should be able to deal with it. The Czech player may need to defend well against some of Del Potro's powerful groundstrokes, though his own play should really be strong enough to be able to work del Potro and get him moving. Obvious advantages that Berdych has include actually having a decent number of matches behind him and, perhaps crucially, will be fitter and arguably stronger than the Argentine.
It is del Potro who leads the head-to-head, winning four of the previous six meetings between the two. It was Berdych who won their only previous meeting outdoor hard court, winning in Tokyo, but that win was in 2008 and with the two having not faced off since the French Open in 2012, it seems extremely unlikely that the head to head will have any impact on this match.
Whilst it is good to see del Potro back on court, it is hard to not see a win for Tomas Berdych today. His tennis has been solid so far in 2016 and should be more match ready than del Potro, and should also have the stronger game.
Prediction: Tomas Berdych in straight sets