Indian Wells: Upsets galore at the BNP Paribas Open

If you like to participate in bracket challenges, I can pretty much guarantee you didn’t predict what has happened so far to this year’s draw at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. I think last year’s surprise victory by veteran Ivan Ljubicic has given hope to players who previously had none. I mean it seems like losing early is the thing to do this week for top players, opening up the field for those lesser recognized guys and gals.

Biggest upset thus far? It’s still Andy Murray. I’m not even surprised that Andy Murray lost his first match in Indian Wells because frankly, I still think Australia is weighing on him, but he lost to Donald Young. I’m going to say that again in case you’re confused. Andy Murray lost to DONALD YOUNG. I think you’ve got it now. Anyway, Donald went on to play one of the most embarrassing sets of tennis I’ve ever witnessed yesterday against Tommy Robredo, losing the match 6-0 6-4. The crowd cheered each point he won like he was one point away from the match, rather than one point closer to finally holding a service game.

Vera Zvonareva

I don’t mean to beat up on Andy Murray, because he’s not the only big name that lost early on. David Ferrer, likely the biggest competition in Nadal’s quarter lost his first match to Ivo Karlovic, who followed that up with a win against Gilles Simon. Watch and learn Donald Young, watch and learn. When you take out the big player, you’re supposed to capitalize on the opportunity to play a lesser ranked player. Robin Soderling was one of the big names to topple yesterday, against Philipp Kohlschreiber. He appeared to be having some issues with his foot, so maybe we can chalk this one up to injury, but none the less, the number 4 seed has been taken out of a quarter already missing the number 5 seed.

Of the men remaining in the top half of the draw, Rafael Nadal is the only player in the Top 20. The bottom half of the draw has gone much more predictably, with no shocking upsets to speak of; however, they will be playing their 3rd round matches today, so we’ll see if the pattern holds.

The ladies’ draw hasn’t fared much better. The top half of the draw has already lost players like Li Na, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Sam Stosur. Kuznetsova lost to Christina McHale, which is probably the most comparable upset to the Young/Murray match on the men’s side. McHale played amazing tennis this week and came very close to beating Nadia Petrova yesterday, but Petrova managed to hang on. The most interesting, although probably not the most surprising upset in this section was Sam Stosur’s loss to Dinara Safina. The former world No. 1, Safina, is still a long way from her old form and she probably wouldn’t have won this match without a little help from Sam. Safina served 16 double faults in the two set match, not exactly a stat most tennis players hope for. Regardless of how she won, Dinara was delighted. She was all smiles on court after her win and was funny and endearing in her press conference. The on court interviewer even gave her a hug. She plays Maria Sharapova later today.

The bottom half of the women’s draw is also missing a key player after world No. 3 Vera Zvonareva lost to Dominika Cibulkova on Sunday night. Possibly more surprising than Vera’s early loss was what a tough time Kim Clijsters had against Sara Errani. Clijsters is definitely favored to win here in Indian Wells because she’s been so dominant lately, but she did not look like the Aussie Open champ on Sunday. In the second set, her serve seemed to fail her and she ended up losing it 6-2. Honestly, I think this match was a kind of a fluke, and Kim should have no trouble dispatching Marion Bartoli today. Based on the look of the draw, I would not be at all surprised to see a Kim Clijsters/Caroline Wozniacki final. Both players are in fine form at the moment and even when they struggle, the rest of the field seems to struggle as well.