The remaining two spots in the semi finals of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open are up for grabs on Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.
And we’re set for another 35C in the shade sort of day in the desert on Friday, as Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori and Jack Sock seek to make it to the last four of this Masters 1000 event.
Roger Federer vs Nick Kyrgios
There are no easy matches to call at this stage of any big tournament and this one is no exception, with Kyrgios on fire right now and Federer rolling back the years so far in 2017.
Having beaten Rafa Nadal twice in the last few months and landed that elusive 18th major title in Melbourne Federer’s confidence is at a high and that showed in the manner of his victory over Rafa in round four on Wednesday.
But this is a totally different match and the type of opponent couldn’t be more of a contrast to Nadal in the unpredictable Aussie, whose tennis can delight as much as his behaviour can sometimes be abhorrent.
And I think we have to go with a tight contest, featuring few breaks of serve, with both men posting 12-month service hold percentages of around 90% on outdoor hard at main level.
There’s very little between them in that regard, with Kyrgios holding serve 90.2% of the time and Federer 89.9% of the time, but it’s the Swiss that had the advantage on return, with 28.8% breaks for an outstanding total of 118.7.
Kyrgios is excellent as well on a 109.5 total, but clearly the edge goes to Federer on those numbers.
And Fed’s stats are pretty much the same if we just look at his 48 career matches at Indian Wells, where he holds serve 89.5% of the time and breaks 27% of the time, which is very special indeed.
NK has only played six main level matches at Indian Wells, but in those he’s held serve 97.2% of the time and for the value here lies in the set one over 10.5 games at 2.25.
On the stats above it looks likely that break chances will be few (NK has faced 0.13 break points per game at Indian Wells in those six matches) and their only career clash to date – on clay – ended in three tie breaks.
That one was at slight altitude in Madrid and Kyrgios edged it that day scoring four fewer points than the Swiss overall.
The master returner Novak Djokovic was unable to create a single break point chance against Kyrgios in the quarter finals
The other quarter final is a tougher one to judge, with Jack Sock’s physical condition my big worry about backing him after three tough matches on a bad shoulder that’s needed ice on it after matches.
The American has certainly done it the hard way so far this tournament, with a trio of three-setters, and in very hot conditions and a dodgy shoulder what does he have left to give?
I said at the start of the week that conditions should suit Sock here and if he were fit and fresh he’d have a decent chance against Kei Nishikori, but I’m not sure he’s worth the risk in these circumstances.
Nishikori has a clear edge on the one-year service hold/break stats, with a 111.9 total (Sock 105.8) on outdoor hard at main level (82.6% holds/29.3% breaks), but that falls back to 101.6 (78.5% holds/23.1% breaks) in his 18 career matches at Indian Wells.
So, the Japanese star can be taken on here, but I have my doubts whether Sock will be fit enough to take advantage.
1 point win over 10.5 games in set one of Federer/Kyrgios at 2.25