Editor’s Note: This story was amended at 1:10 pm PDT Wednesday to reflect Jannik Sinner’s withdrawal, which sent Nick Kyrgios into the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals.
According to the seeding, World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev was supposed to play Roberto Bautista Agut at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. Instead, we have 19th seed Carlos Alcaraz versus 26th seed Gael Monfils, a dashing pair of players coming off upsets. Monfils took down Medvedev in three sets, while Alcaraz hammered countryman Bautista Agut in two.
For Monfils, it was his second victory over a World No. 1, going back 13 years to Doha where he beat Nadal in the quarter-finals. The 35-year-old Frenchman knows that the 18-year-old Alcaraz – 10-1 for the season, including the title in Rio de Janeiro – will be a tough out.
“He’s full of confidence, young, hitting the balls big,” Monfils observed. “I just have to play my game and be there and try to find a solution. I’ve never played him, so it’s going to be interesting. ”
It is easy to forget that this is only Alcaraz’s sixth ATP Masters 1000 (3-5 before this week). Should the 18-year-old Spaniard oust Monfils, he will become the youngest quarter-finalist at Indian Wells since Michael Chang in 1989 aged 17.
After winning 21 major titles, including this year’s Australian Open, it’s clear that ultimately tennis chose Rafael Nadal. Despite a series of injuries – the latest a chronic foot issue – and advancing age (he’s 35), Nadal has shown remarkable consistency.
Fourth seed Nadal is eyeing a quarter-final berth when he meets 17th seed Reilly Opelka. The Spaniard won their only match of him, in straight sets, in the semi-final of last year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome. Rafa is working on a Tour-best 17-match winning streak to start the season.
Cameron Norrie vs Jenson Brooksby offers this intriguing question: Who will feel more at home on the courts of Indian Wells? Norrie, the defending champion – or Brooksby, who grew up nearby and attended the tournament as a kid?
“I definitely have an appreciation for it,” Brooksby said. “In my process and everything, I don’t think about it now because that can’t be my focus. At the same time, it is in the back of my head how special it is and how cool it is. ”
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World No. 6 Matteo Berrettini, who defeated World No. 30 Lloyd Harris 6-4, 7-5, is up against Miomir Kecmanovic, a 7-6 (3), 7-5 winner over Botic van de Zandschulp. The Italian had won only a single match in three previous appearances at Indian Wells but will be looking for his third di lui this week against Kecmanovic. Berrettini hit 12 aces against Harris and won 36 of his 41 first-serve points (88 per cent), according to Infosys ATP Stats. In 2019, Kecmanovic reached the quarter-finals in his first try at Indian Wells – as a lucky loser. It will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting.
As they both come off matches featuring pivotal tie-breaks, 20th seed Taylor Fritz and 29th seed Alex de Minaur are certainly battle-tested for their fourth-round meeting. They have, as they say, a history.
They’ve already met five times, with the Australian De Minaur winning the first four, beginning with victories at an ATP Challenger Tour event and the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2018. The results were the same in 2019, in Atlanta and Basel, both in straight sets. But at last year’s US Open, Fritz finally got on the board with a first-round victory, taking the opening tie-break and winning in four sets.
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The John Isner vs Grigor Dimitrov matchup is difficult to read. This will be their fourth meeting – and all four have come in Masters 1000 events (in Miami, Cincinnati, Paris, and now Indian Wells). Isner is up, 2-1. The caveat? They haven’t played in nearly five years.
Both men are in form. The 23rd-seeded Isner defeated 14th seed Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3, firing 13 aces in the process. Dimitrov, the 33rd seed, defeated 31st seed Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-4.
Rounding out the fourth-round action are seventh seed Andrey Rublev and 2021 Miami Open presented by Itau champion Hubert Hurkacz. Rublev has impressed on his way to the fourth round for the first time, completing straight-sets wins over Dominik Koepfer and Frances Tiafoe. His 11th-seeded opponent seems to thrive in the desert conditions, however, and is seeking a third quarter-final in as many appearances in Indian Wells.
An indication of how tight an encounter to expect is the pair’s most recent meeting in the semi-finals in Dubai last month. World No. 7 Rublev recovered from dropping the opening set to squeeze through via a tie-break in the decider. That Dubai title run forms part of Rublev’s current 11-match winning streak and he is looking forward to another high-level encounter against a player who leads him 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I was thinking after the Dubai match, when am I going to see him [Hurkacz] again? ” said Rublev after the win over Tiafoe. “But it’s tennis, it’s fun, we cannot control this, so we have to face each other tomorrow again and hopefully it’s going to be another good match.”
SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2022
STADIUM 1 Starts at 11:00 am
ATP –  Taylor Fritz (USA) vs.  Alex de Minaur (AUS)
ATP –  Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Reilly Opelka (USA)
Not Before 3:00 PM
WTA –  Simona Halep (ROU) vs Petra Martic (CRO)
Not Before 6:00 PM
WTA –  Iga Swiatek (POL) vs  Madison Keys (USA)
ATP –  Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs Jenson Brooksby (USA)
STADIUM 2 Starts at 11:00 am
ATP –  Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
ATP –  Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs [WC] Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
ATP –  John Isner (USA) vs.  Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP –  Gael Monfils (FRA) vs  Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
ATP – [WC] John Isner (USA) / Jack Sock (USA) vs. [WC] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) / Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
STADIUM 3 Starts at 11:00 am
WTA –  Cori Gauff (USA) / Catherine McNally (USA) vs.  Asia Muhammad (USA) / Ena Shibahara (JPN)
Not Before 1:00 PM
WTA – Marie Bouzkova (CZE) / Lucie Hradecka (CZE) vs. [OSE] Alizé Cornet (FRA) / Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP –  Andrey Rublev vs.  Hubert Hurkacz (POL)
ATP – Taylor Fritz (USA) / Tommy Paul (USA) vs Andrey Golubev (KAZ) / Alexander Zverev (GER)