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Andy Exit Good for Yanks at Indian Wells

March 11, 2012 | 03:18 PM

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez def Andy MURRAY: 6-4, 6-2

In one of the 3 least competitive ATP matches of the 14 contested yesterday, GL played brilliantly and benefitted from one of Andy's ugliest performances. As far as the quality of Andy's tennis went, last night might have been a new low: the Scot earned 7 break points and 'squandered' them all (in his own words), partially due to his own poor play, and was broken 3 times and allowed 9 break chances in 9 service games. Compared to his loss last year here at IW to Donald YOUNG in the 1st round, this was not as big an upset and Andy had a little more game in that one, though it was technically the biggest upset of the year on the tour (see Jeff Sackmann's analysis at Young's odds for that one were .86% versus GL's 19.6% for this one.

Nor did the loss cost Andy points the way his loss last year did when he he was defending points from his 2010 quarterfinal loss. For him, the good news is that he has another chance in Miami this month when he goes in defending points NO points: his 2nd worse loss last year was there in the 1st round to Alex Bogomolov (who'd had a 10.1% chance of pulling off the upset).

#96 Garcia-Lopez is a veteran top 100 player (his highest rank was as #26 in 2010) and not a complete stranger to big upsets, having beaten RAFA in Bangkok in 2010 (2-6, 7-6, 6-3). But his replacing Andy in the same quarter as both FISH and ISNER is welcome news for the USA. And next Up for GL is the other surging American, Ryan HARRISON, who could get a nice indirect over Andy (this reminds me that in the ancient days of tennis rankings, pre-technology, indirect wins were a significant factor in the subjective evaluation of empirical data used to produce rankings, and produced endless controversy and ranking appeals galore to busy volunteer committees).

What does this kind of loss say about Murray vis-a-vis the Top 3 with whom he's usually lumped as The Top 4?

Again, Sackmann's research provides interesting context at his site:

Another Early Exit for Andy Murray | Heavy Topspin: A Tennis Blog

The biggest challenge Fish and Isner will have in their quarter will be when they face each other in the round of 16. That will be a big match for each of them:

- Fish has already gained some points here as he was upset in the 1st round last year by Milos Raonic.

- Isner, too, can only gain now as he's already equaled his last year's performance here.

Fish is in a very tight points race with Del Potro and Tipsarevic to remain in the top 10 (Delpo trails him by only 35 points, and Tipsarevic by 165). Delpo has 360 semifinal points to defend from last year (he lost to Rafa 4-6, 4-6), while Tipso has exceeded his 2nd round ending form 2011:

- For Delpo not to lose points, he'll have to beat Federer for only the 3rd time (in the quarters); his win today over the improving Aussie Marinko Matsevic was a good start (I sat next to Andy's Mom/coach Judy Murray on Friday while she was scouting Matso, a newcomer to events like this, on the radar after his final showing last week in Delray).

One of these two men, FISH or ISNER, is now a favorite to reach the semi-finals against Joker:

- For Fish, facing the Joker would be a great opportunity to notch his first win over Joker after 7 losses (the last one was 3 sets in Canada last summer).

- For Isner it would obviously be huge to beat the #1, not to mention reaching his first ATP 1000 final.

Sackmann's model gave them each a little better than a 25% chance of reaching the semis. Their odds have certainly improved with Murray gone.

Stay tuned...


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