World No. 2 and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and the Tower Of Tandil Juan Martin del Potro will lock horns in Round 3 of the BNP Paribas Open for the second time in as many tournaments. Although Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head To Head 12-4, it is no secret that majority of the matches played between these two have gone the distance, including the one recently at Acapulco, where Djokovic edged del Potro 6-4 in the third set.
Average thus far for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has had an average season thus far, with a 10-2 Win/Loss record and having one title at Doha (defeating Murray in the final) to his name. However, he suffered a shock defeat at the Australian Open second round to the hands of Denis Istomin. To put it simple, this season has not been great, but has not been bad either for the Serb. But it has been pretty disappointing considering his caliber. That would not linger for long in the mind of Novak Djokovic, who has completed the Indian Wells – Miami double successfully from 2014-2016, and is riding an eighteen-match win streak at the Californian Desert. The Serb showed no sign of relent in his tricky opener against Kyle Edmund, defeating the Brit in straight sets despite being two points away from conceding the second set.
But as Djokovic himself has said, he will have to be at his very best if he has to get past del Potro,
“You know, he’s a tough player to beat. He’s a big guy (with a) big serve, big forehand. Definitely not the draw you’d like early in the tournament. I have played him some weeks ago in Acapulco.”
Can the dark horse triumph?
Although the odds are slightly stacked against him, del Potro is not the person one would rule out too soon. Not to forget that the Argentine had snapped Djokovic’s 21-match win streak in 2013 by beating him in the SFs of this very tournament. As far as DelPo is concerned, he would not think too much about his loss at Mexico to Djokovic a few weeks earlier, but he would rather draw the positives from that match and would try to right the wrongs in this meeting. del Potro is a former finalist at Indian Wells, having lost a tight match to Rafael Nadal in the 2013 finals after being a set and a break up. He had defeated Murray and Djokovic en route. del Potro is 5-2 thus far in 2017, having made the Semi-Finals at Delray Beach (where he lost to Raonic) and the second round at Acapulco (where he lost to Djokovic). In his opening round match, del Potro overcame fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis in straight sets in spite of being far from his best.
Just like every other match up between these two gladiators, it is tough to decide the outcome.
It is definitely Game On at the Californian Desert!