For the bottom half of the draw in the BNP Paribas Open, the road to the championship game is a tough one. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal are all on the same side of the draw, while the other half is left with Stan Wawrinka as its biggest threat. The bottom half draw is also loaded with Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios, and Juan Martin del Potro. On this seventh day of competition, all of the top players made it to the third round unscathed, with the exception of Marin Cilic.
What's Left of the Big Four Looks Strong
Federer's match was the most dominant victory of the day. The 18-time Grand Slam winner put on a show against Stephane Robert--defeating him, 6-2, 6-1 in 51 minutes.
A similar story went along with Nadal's match. The Spaniard lost just one more game in each set than Federer did. Guido Pella went down to the tune of 6-3, 6-2.
The road to the third round wasn't as easy for the highest ranked player left in the draw. Djokovic took the first set over Kyle Edmund in routine fashion, 6-4, but was pushed to a tiebreak in the second, 7-6(5).
The Rest of the Half Also Looks Good
Of the thirteen singles matches that didn't feature a member of the Big Four, only four went the distance. Every other match was decided in straight sets. This means that the favorite won the match and did it in convincing fashion.
The bottom half of the draw has a nice mix of young players--Alexander Zverev, Lucas Pouille, and Kyrgios--and proven players--del Potro, and Nishikori--all of whom found victories on day seven. And all five of these players are playing really strong tennis. Even Grigor Dimitrov, who has stepped up his game in recent months, took home a big win: 6-4, 6-0 over Mikhail Youzhny.
The Third Round is Going to be Exciting
While the drama of tight, highly contested matches were minimal until the final two matches, the big-name players handled their business. This allows for the third round to be full of talented players playing well.
The match to watch is del Potro versus Djokovic. The last time the world number two lost in Indian Wells was against the Argentine in the 2013 semifinal. Djokovic leads the head-to-head, 12-4, but all of their recent matches have been tightly contested.
In the same quarter, there will also be the battle of the rising stars: Kyrgios versus Zverev. Two young players with as much attitude as talent competing on opposite sides of the net is a recipe for entertainment in anyone's book.
Match of the Day
Despite most of the day's matches being lopsided victories, there was one that stood out because of its sensational play from both competitors. This match was the face-off between the former-US Open Champion and the played deemed "The Next Great American."
Cilic took the first set, 6-4, and started off the second set hot, but Taylor Fritz would not be put away so easily. He clawed back from 1-3 to take the second set, 7-5.
The third set kicked off with the two competitors trading breaks, then Fritz broke for a second time to lead 4-2 and eventually 5-3. But with the match on his racket, the young American could not finish on his first try. He was broken at 15 to make the set score 5-4. However, Cilic could not hold on much longer. At deuce, the Croat gave up consecutive points and, with them, the match. This match was Fritz's first top ten win of his career.