The Ocho: Madrid Wrap-up

Ocho

“The Eight” …. Every week, @tennispig will give his top eight ATP singles players and top eight ATP/WTA doubles teams from the previous week. It’s a great way to monitor who is hot … and who is not. This week, it’s not all about Rafa, but it’s still about Rafa.

1. Alexander Zverev
Titles in successive weeks on the ATP World Tour, including your third career Masters title, will net you the top spot for the week. Sascha was dominant in winning the Mutua Madrid Open this past week. He faced just one break point in five matches and never had his serve broken. Zverev also didn’t drop a single set and has only lost one set during his current nine match win streak. Sascha is firmly entrenched as the #3 player in the world behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He has a chance in Rome to really put himself into that upper echelon talk … which will then be a talking point when we get around to his Grand Slam record.

SASCHA

2. Dominic Thiem
The Dominator earned a spot in “The Ocho” by putting an end to Nadal’s win streaks. Rafa had won 21 straight matches before battling Thiem in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard had also won an astounding 50 straight sets on clay. Thiem’s straight sets win over Nadal 7-5, 6-3 was a big confidence boost for the Austrian who lost 6-0, 6-2 when they faced off in Monte Carlo. Following that up with his first win over Kevin Anderson after six defeats was a nice feather in his cap for the week. It helped negate the emptiness of losing the final in straights to Sascha 6-4, 6-4.

3. Denis Shapovalov
The Canadian was the surprise of the week. Shapovalov has never played a main draw match on clay before this season. Leaving out his split 1-1 mark in Davis Cup play earlier this season, Shapovalov had lost his only two tour matches on dirt coming to Madrid. A semifinal run later and he’s now made two Masters semifinals in the past year. We’ll see if he’s an actual threat on dirt as he heads to Rome this week or if he was helped a bit by the Madrid altitude. Either way, he had impressive wins over Milos Raonic and Kyle Edmund before falling to Zverev. The run boosts him to a career high ranking of #29.

4. Rafael Nadal
All good things must come to an end and that they did for Nadal in Madrid. Twenty-one straight wins. Fifty straight sets won on clay, an all-time record on the ATP World Tour. Think about that for just a second and let that wow factor set in again. To be honest, the straight sets loss to Thiem might be the worst thing that happened to the rest of the tour. I think that loss, which also knocked him out of the #1 spot in the rankings, will burn a fire inside Nadal for the next few weeks.

Dominic Thiem

As if he wasn’t still the firm favorite to take home his 11th French Open title, now you have a man who is on a mission beginning in Rome. Rome is a spot where he has not won a title since 2013, despite having won seven titles in his career at the Italian Open. The fuel for turning that around is that title #8 pushes him back to the top spot in the rankings and gets him on another roll heading to Roland Garros.

5. Bryan Brothers
It’s not often that you can celebrate a little when you’re forced into your first injury retirement ever, but the Bryans can do that today. By verge of getting to the Madrid final, the American twins boosted themselves back into the top spot in the rankings. Unfortunately, a hip injury for Bob led to a retirement in the title match against Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya on Sunday. Despite that, the Bryans slipped ahead of another team dealing with an injury in Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic for the top spot. The Bryans are a mere 235 points ahead of Marach-Pavic who had held the top spot this year since the opening weeks of the season. No word on whether the injury to Bob will cause the twins to skip Rome this week. If they can go, they figure to be in the mix again this week if Bob is healthy. After all, they’ve made the finals of all four Masters events so far this season!

6. Kyle Edmund
The Brit moved inside the Top 20 with a quarterfinal run in Madrid. He’s now ranked a career high #19. The media oversold his win over Novak Djokovic in round two as a monumental win, although it does still count as a good one seeing that Edmund had lost all three previous matches against the Serb. For me, the bigger win was beating David Goffin in straights in round three. Goffin had been in better form and had famously come back from down 0-2 against Edmund in the 2015 Davis Cup final. He beat Edmund in the last three sets in that match 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. So this was a nice bit of revenge. Edmund is now 8-4 on clay and one to watch over the next few weeks as he runs hot and cold on this surface.

7. Nikola Mektic/Alexander Peya
This pair has quietly been moving up the rankings, especially since the clay court swing in Europe. Mektic and Peya certainly didn’t like winning a Masters title by default due to injury, but they’ll take their second title together in 2018 as a result. They also won in Marrakech. Unassumingly, they’ve slotted themselves in as the #3 team in the rankings now, a mere five points ahead of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah at #4. Clay has been their best surface with four finals in six tournaments. They’re a threat, but face a tough opener in Rome against John Isner and Jack Sock.

8. Dusan Lajovic
I love to put consummate “pros” on the list when possible and Lajovic at age 27, fits that description. The Serb is under .500 for the year at 8-11, but he shows the difficult life of players floating in the back end of the Top 100. Lajovic made it to the main draw in Madrid through qualifying and then stunned Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round after beating Karen Khachanov and Richard Gasquet – two quality wins in their own right. He would make his first-ever Masters quarterfinal with the run and sees his ranking boosted nearly 30 spots to #66.

DUSAN

Then what does he do? After losing a tough three set match to Kevin Anderson in the quarters, he turns around and goes straight to Rome qualifying on Saturday. He would beat Florian Mayer in three, before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final round on Sunday. Unfortunately he is not in the main draw, but earns the respect here for playing eight matches in eight days with a 6-2 record. Oh and that win over Del Potro was his first over a top ten player after going 0-11.

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The Ocho: Monte Carlo Wrap-up

ocho

“The Eight” …. Every week, @tennispig will give his top eight ATP singles players and top eight ATP/WTA doubles teams from the previous week. It’s a great way to monitor who is hot … and who is not. This week, a look back at Monte-Carlo and King Rafa.

1. Rafael Nadal
The King of Clay is still the king of clay. At 31, Nadal looked as dominant as ever on his favorite surface in winning his 11th title in Monte Carlo. He won all five matches at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in straight sets with only Grigor Dimitrov winning as many as four games off of him in a set. Six of the ten sets he played saw his opponent with two games or less. He heads to Barcelona as an overwhelming favorite and why not – after all, Center Court is named after him; Pista Rafa Nadal. Oh and he also remains at the top spot in the rankings, needing to have won the title as he did to keep his spot.

Rafa

2. Kei Nishikori
It was a solid week overall for Nishikori as he made his first Masters 1000 final. Especially big were his two wins in the quarters and semis over Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, two of the top four players in the rankings. Sure, he got crushed by Nadal in the final, but it’s clay, it’s Rafa – nothing to be ashamed of in losing that way. The wins in Monte Carlo pushed him up 14 spots to #22 in the rankings and he now heads to one of his best tournaments in Barcelona. The only problem there is that Nadal is in his quarter, so he’s likely going top drop points after making the final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell last season.

3. Bryan Brothers
Bob and Mike remain the most consistent team of 2018 as they collected their 6th Monte Carlo title and 38th career Masters 1000 title. The Bryans have racked up a 23-6 record on the season now with a pair of Masters titles (Miami) and two other finals appearances in Indian Wells and Acapulco. All of that still has the twins nipping at the heels of the top team, Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. The Bryans beat Marach-Pavic in straights to claim the Monte Carlo crown and are now less than 300 points behind them for the #1 spot.

4. Richard Gasquet
The 31-year old Frenchman made his history this week in a quarterfinal run in Monte Carlo. Gasquet collected his 500th career ATP win and in doing so, became the first French player to ever achieve that feat. The run bumps him up five spots to #29. Gasquet looked healthy and has now made the quarters or better in Marrakech and Monte Carlo and could become a fly-in-the-ointment type for some of the higher ranked players as the clay court season wears on.

Gasquet

5. David Goffin
The Belgian won his first matches since the freak eye injury he suffered late in February in Rotterdam. His confidence and timing appear to have returned as he now heads to Barcelona looking to further strengthen his mental game. Goffin is still hanging onto the 10th spot in the rankings right now heading into the stretch on clay that includes Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. He will be one to watch as a potential player who can push to a semifinal at the French Open with the right draw.

6. Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic
The top ranked doubles duo got a much needed finals run in Monte Carlo this past week as they cling to their spot in the rankings. Marach-Pavic didn’t do terrible in the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami, making the semis and quarters. The pair had however not been to a final since Rotterdam and had lost a bit of the swagger they had early in the season in winning three straight titles to open 2018. They will have a chance to keep the top spot in Barcelona this week, making their debut at the tournament as the three seeds.

7. Rohan Bopanna/Eduoard Roger-Vasselin
I’ve been hyping this tandem since the beginning of the season, when they first announced that they would pair up. Up until this past week, it had been a season of disappointing results for Bopanna-ERV. They had made a couple of semifinals early on at 250-level events, but Monte Carlo marked their first big run at a quality tournament. They made the semifinals and beat two quality teams in Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares and Juan-Sebastian Cabal Farah en route. They would lose a tough semifinal to Marach-Pavic 10-7 in the super breaker, but have jumped 12 spots in the rankings to #10. They are now less than 200 points out of the #8 slot. They have a tough draw in Barcelona with Henri Kontinen and John Peers in their opener, but just might be starting to hit their stride at a good time on the calendar.

8. USA Fed Cup Team
Normally the only WTA inclusions on this list are for doubles, but Team USA deserves a little shout out this week. The United States made the Fed Cup final for the second straight year over the weekend. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys keyed the run with straight sets wins on Sunday after France split the opening rubbers to propel the U.S. to a 3-2 win. Team USA is now in position for a second straight Fed Cup title. They play the Czech Republic, who has won five of the last seven Fed Cup titles. The Americans beat the Czechs in last year’s semifinals.

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The Ocho: Miami Open Wrap-up

Ocho

“The Eight” …. Every week, @tennispig will give his top eight ATP singles players and top eight ATP/WTA doubles teams from the previous week. It’s a great way to monitor who is hot … and who is not. This week, it’s all about the Miami Open.

1. John Isner
Isner’s tennis is never going to be a phenomenal watch, but you can still appreciate what the 32-year-old accomplished by winning the title in Miami. The title is his lone Masters 100 title and 13th for his career. The win also pushes Isner into the top ten in the rankings at #9 this week. Isner was last inside the top ten right around four years ago in April 2014. For a guy who was 2-6 in 2018 before winning six straight in Miami, it was a monster week.

ISNER

2. Alexander Zverev
Despite losing in three sets to Isner in the final, Miami could well have been the boost that Zverev needed to get his season out of neutral. The German was 8-4 on the season, but really void of any impressive runs. That changed in Miami with wins over Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta. Sure, he didn’t keep it together very well in the final and we saw a little of the mentally fragile Sascha again – but overall, he should have gained confidence from this run. His forehand was consistent and if he takes only that moving forward this season, he may begin to rack up more impressive results more consistently.

3. Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Potro simply had to be on the list this time around, even though his 15 match win streak was ended by Isner in the semifinals. I thought Del Potro would have gassed out earlier in Miami after title runs in Acapulco and Indian Wells, but he persevered into the semifinals and remained steady at #6 in the rankings. The Argentine showed us during this winning streak that he’s got the passion, play and perhaps finally – the fitness – to be a major player in 2018. He’ll take a break after a heavy workload and has already talked up a reduced clay court schedule. That’s smart thinking for a player who wants to still be strong as the season rolls back into hard court play in the summer.

4. Bryan Brothers
The first six weeks of the seson belonged to Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, but since then it has been Bob and Mike Bryan who have shown the most consistency on the doubles scene. They were finally rewarded for that with a title in Miami after failing to win in finals appearances in both Acapulco and Indian Wells. The twins remain a solid #2 to Marach-Pavic in the rankings and have closed the gap to juder under 800 points. One month ago, they were nearly 1,800 points back.

BRYANS

5. Borna Coric
Coric completed the Sunshine double with a quarterfinal showing in Miami, his fourth at a Masters event. That followed his first Masters 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells. The Croat scored wins over Denis Shapovalov and Jack Sock, showing that defense again is a good way to beat players who definitely have a bit better weaponry on the offensive end. Considering that the season now flips to clay, where Coric should be even better – a golden opportunity could be waiting for the 21-year-old in the next two months.

6. Grigor Dimitrov
What is an “Ocho” without Dimitrov on the list once again for the wrong reasons. The shine of his early season has dimmed to darkness with Dimitrov going 1-2 in Indian Wells and Miami combined. Losses to Fernando Verdasco and then Jeremy Chardy in Miami are not the thing that a player ranked #5 should be experiencing. We’re once again back into “wait mode” with Dimitrov, waiting for him to realize all that potential and turn it into consistent results. He may well turn it back on during the switch to clay, but consistency is really still pretty elusive for Dimitrov especially at Masters and Slams.

7. David Goffin
I don’t think much was expected of Goffin in Miami due to the lengthy layoff after the freak eye injury in Rotterdam, but what transpired is very troubling. Goffin was crushed by Joao Sosa 6-0, 6-1. Goffin admitted his pupil is still “expanded” in that injured eye and that he needs to gain confidence with his vision again. The Belgian said he felt he practiced and trained well for the event, but that at full match speed – he now knows he has a lot of work to do to rediscover his overall confidence and rhythm.

8. Novak Djokovic
The Serb is also on this list for the wrong reasons. More was expected of Djokovic in Miami after he flopped in his return at Indian Wells. Perhaps we again expected too much of a player who missed months due to an elbow injury and then had to have some procedure done on it again this season. He’s had just two matches since Melbourne with losses to Taro Daniel and then Benoit Paire in Miami.

On top of that, Djokovic has ended his relationships with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, who were the two key cogs of his coaching team. The Agassi relationship seemed flawed and Djokovic’s lack of health since they began working with each other last May really jinxed any chances of seeing success. From statements from Agassi, it also appears they never got on the same page with what they wanted to do. For the Serb, finding his confidence and game again should be paramount to finding another coach.

The Ocho: Indian Wells Wrap-up

Ocho

“The Eight” …. Every week, @tennispig will give his top eight ATP singles players and top eight ATP/WTA doubles teams from the previous week. It’s a great way to monitor who is hot … and who is not. This week, it’s a look back at Indian Wells.

1. Juan Martin Del Potro
Well who else is going to top the list than the champion of the tournament? NOBODY. Roger Federer may have been struggling some with back issues the last few rounds at Indian Wells, but all credit goes to Del Potro for the title win on Sunday. He had his back up against the wall with Federer serving for the match at 5-4 in the third with two match points. After blowing his own opportunity in the second set at 8-7 in the tiebreak to win, the Argentine fought off Fed and wound up rolling in the third set tiebreak to win his first Masters title. The win pushes DelPo into the 6th spot in the rankings and further cements him as the 1B to Federer’s 1A right now on the ATP World Tour.

DELPO

2. Roger Federer
Federer is in this spot alone for the way he fought through in the semifinals against Borna Coric. With his back certainly effecting his play some, the Swiss was able to overcome the talented Croat 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. It was a match he looked like he was destined to lose, but came up with the goods at the right time to win. It helped him run off his 17th straight win to start the season, a personal best for Fed. Despite the loss, it’s clear that Federer is still the gold standard on tour and seemingly the field will need these physical issues to crop up from time to time to give them their best chances to KO the world number one.

3. Borna Coric
The fairy tale week for Coric looked like it was going to get the perverbial cherry on top with an unexpected win over Federer, but alas it was not to be. Still, it was a first for Coric with a run to a Masters 1000 semifinal. That included upset wins over seeds Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Roberto Bautista Agut and Kevin Anderson. The win zips the 21-year-old to #36 in the latest rankings, up 13 spots from last week. He’s also just three spots behind his career best ranking of #33.

4. Grigor Dimtirov
Back on the list for all the wrong reasons as Dimitrov once again could not solve Indian Wells. This time instead of surrendering himself in the third round, Dimitrov was knocked out in his first match in round two by Fernando Verdasco. He’s still ranked fourth, but he’s again struggling to live up to expectation. This Indian Wells-Miami double has been a trouble spot for him in his career, never advancing past round four in Miami and round three at Indian Wells. Dimitrov heads to Miami on a three match losing skid with two opening match losses in his last three tournaments.

5. John Isner/Jack Sock
Isner and Sock can’t get out of their own way in singles, but the Americans came together to win the doubles titles at Indian Wells this week. Isner and Sock are now 15-5 all-time when pairing up. For Sock, who has now dropped out of the top ten in singles to #11, it’s his second doubles title this season and 10th of his career. His two doubles titles equal the number of singles’ wins he’s been able to rack up this year at just 2-5. I’m also still blocked by him on Twitter, which is still fantastic to me. Isner is just 2-6 in 2018, but has chosen to let the Pig live his life by seeing the Isner tweets.

isner-sock

6. Su-wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova
You can’t ask for anything more than winning a prestiguous doubles title as a first time pairing. That’s exactly what Hsieh and Strycova did this past week. The duo paired up at the last minute, literally signing up for doubles ten minutes before the entry deadline. They even tried to switch partners at the last minute, but it wasn’t allowed. Good thing, eh?

hey beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-4 for the titles. What is more impressive is that Hsieh paired up with a different partner for the second straight tournament to beat the 2nd ranked Russians. Hsieh paired with Shuai Peng in Dubai last week to knock off Makarova-Vesnina en route to the Dubai final. Hsieh is now ranked twice in the top right with Peng at #6 and Strycova at #8 after the big win at Indian Wells.

7. Bryan Brothers
The Bryans went another week without a title, but they continue to gain momentum. Bob and Mike moved up a notch to number two in the rankings with their finals run at Indian Wells. It was their second straight tournament final after doing the same in Acapulco. The key right now is that they are producing consistent results early on and getting deep in tournaments. They head to Miami where they have made the semifinals or final in five of the last six years.

8. Matteo Berrettini
I can hear the google search engine revving up for this one and go ahead – the Italian deserves some recognition with what he is doing right now. Berrettini snuck into the Indian Wells main draw and acquitted himself well with a three set, opening round loss to Daniil Medvedev. The 21-year-old was able to parlay that into a finals run at the Irving Tennis Classic on the Challenger circuit after losing in California. It was his second Challenger final in 2018, having notched a title win in Bergamo earlier in the season.

Berrettini

He also qualified for his first Grand Slam in Australia via qualifying, He is 1-3 in main draws at the ATP level this season, but looks to be a legitimate riser and one to watch for at this stage. Berrettini is at a career high #95 this week and that is quite an achievement for him, considering that he was in the 800s last year after missing a good chunk of 2016 due to a knee injury. Berrettini is a big kid at 6’4″ tall who has shown some prowess on both hard courts and clay on the lower levels. Keep an eye on him in Miami qualifying this week.

2018 BNP Paribas Open Men’s Doubles Preview

BNPDUBS18

Doubles Race Takes Shape in Indian Wells

The next month is set to shape the doubles race on the ATP World Tour with stops in Indian Wells and Miami. Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic are still atop the rankings with almost a 1500 point cushion. Masters 1000 points could quickly change that or see Marach-Pavic run further away. They head to Indian Wells as the third seeds and making their debut together at the BNP Paribas Open. Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo slot in at #1 in this week’s draw. They lost last year’s Indian Wells final to Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, who are no longer partnered up. The second seeds are Henri Kontinen and John Peers. Kontinen-Peers has yet to find much luck in 2018 as they come in ranked 21st. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares round out the top four seeds. They come in fresh of winning the Acapulco titles and will be looking to improve on their semifinal run in 2017.

Rounding out the seeds in this year’s Indian Wells doubles draw are Pierre Hugues-Herbert and Nicolas Mahut at #5. The French duo won the titles in 2016, but were outsted in round two last year. The sixth seeds are Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. They are just 2-4 as a tandem at Indian Wells, but did make the quarters last season. They’ve rocketed to fifth in the rankings and come in with the Dubai titles in their pockets. The Bryans come in at #7 as two-time winners here, but haven’t made it past the quarterfinals since winning their last Indian Wells title in 2014. The 8th seeds are Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram, a first time pairing at this event. This will be their fourth tournament together in 2018. They have made the semifinals of their last two.

Recent History Shows Top Seeds Struggle

The Bryan Brothers’ last title run at the BNP Paribas Open marks the last time that the top seed has been as far as the semifinals at this event. The top four seeds have had a habit of finding themselves as early upset victims the last few years. Last year, the Bryans were seeded second and lost their opener. In both 2015 and 2016, two of the top four seeds followed suit with round one defeats. Amazingly, if you track all the way back to 2006, there has only been one year where a top four seed has not fallen in their opener.

Let’s take a quick glance at the top four seeds this year and which ones might be in danger of joining that trend. (1) Kubot-Melo will battle Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer in round one. Don’t dismiss the Spaniards as a random pair up, they’ve played together nine times the last two seasons, going 6-3. One of those losses as a straight sets whipping by Kubot-Melo at last year’s event in Halle on grass. Kubot-Melo have cooled off after a hot start, going 2-2 in their last two tournaments. I would not be surprised if they had to work a super tie break to escape round one and RBA-Ferrer certainly are capable of causing an upset.

The second seeds, Kontinen-Peers, will obviously be the ones many are watching and expecting to flop. Since making the Brisbane final, they are 1-2 with stunning losses at the Australian Open to Radu Albot and Hyeon Chung and then last week in their opener in Dubai to Damir Dzumhir and Filip Krajinovic. They draw Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin in round one. The Frenchmen haven’t played together since 2015, but both have experience. Martin is a regular doubles player at the ATP level. Still, even with Kontinen-Peers struggling a bit, this would be a real shocker. I think the seeds fend off the challenge in this spot.

Marach-Pavic arrive as the third seeds with a little of their luster worn off. They have lost two of three since their 17 match winning streak to start the season ended. Neither was a poor loss, but they will want to find that winning feeling again early. They start against Steve Johnson and Daniel Nestor. Johnson-Nestor played once last year and were overwhelmed by Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus in Cincinnati. Nestor has been switching partners about every week with little success at 3-8 this season. It’s difficult to see Johnson-Nestor winning this match against a team with better chemistry.

That leaves us with the fourth seeds, Murray and Soares. They open against the pairing of Philipp Petzschner and Dominic Thiem. Murray-Soares have been pretty consistent at 10-3 in 2018 with two finals appearances out of the four tournaments played. Petzschner and team have never played together, but once upon a time, Petzschner was one of the top doubles players along with Jurgen Melzer before injuries stonewalled Petzschner. The German is a two-time Grand Slam champ, having won the U.S. Open titles with Melzer in 2011 and Wimbledon in 2010. He won his 7th doubles title in Bastad last season alongside Julian Knowle. Thiem hasn’t had a ton of doubles success the last couple of years, but his matches are often very close. This is the one that sticks in my brain as a possibility, even if it seems a bit far fetched.

If I had to rate them in order of best shot at losing round one: I’d go 2-4-1-3.

Doubles Draw Preview

Quarter #1 Seeds
(1) Kubot-Melo
(8) Dodig-Ram

Breakdown
There are some dangerous floaters in this section that could definitely help continue the top seed curse. If Kubot-Melo survive Bautista Agut and Ferrer in round one, round two could be just as tough. They play the winners of Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Fernando Verdasco vs John Isner and Jack Sock. Isner-Sock are 11-3 in the last two seasons with a title in Shanghai in 2016 and a finals appearance in Beijing last year. I’d rate them the tougher out of the two. In the bottom of this quarter with Dodig-Ram as the seeds, the winner of an opening round barn burner between Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus vs Juan-Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah loom as big threats.

Klaasen-Venus seem to have finally gelled together after winning the titles in Marseille. They did lose in the quarters in Dubai last week, but are 5-1 in their last six matches after a 2-3 start to their partnership. Cabal-Farah are 9-4 and showed they are hard court threats with their run to the Aussie Open final. They don’t have a ton of experience surprisingly at Indian wells despite their lengthy partnership, so Klaasen-Venus might be the team two watch. Dodig-Ram start against Ben McLachlan and Julio Peralta. Two good doubles players, but they’ve never played together before this week. So edge to Dodig-Ram.

The Pig-nosticator

I think it’s safe bet that one or both of the two seeds here won’t see the quarterfinals. I think Dodig-Ram might actually be the safer shot to squeeze through this quarter. I won’t be surprised at all to see an unseeded team make a run out of this bracket and into the semifinals. An unseeded duo has made the semifinals each of the last four years. Look to the survivor of that Klaasen-Venus v Cabal-Farah match as a good shot to join that club.

Quarter #2 Seeds
(3) Marach-Pavic
(6) Rojer-Tecau

Breakdown
Marach-Pavic should get out of round one against Johnson-Nestor, but round two could have a huge speed bump in their way. Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya look to be the probable team in that spot. Mektic-Peya open with Fabio Fognini and Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi. I won’t totally discount an upset there, but chemistry is better with the regular pairing of Mektic-Peya. Mektic-Peya have made two finals this year and beat Marach-Pavic in Acapulco last week. Revenge may be on the minds of the third seeds, but that won’t be an easy match at all.

The bottom half with Rojer-Tecau is interesting. The seeds here come in hot after winning in Dubai, but they haven’t had a ton of success here outside of their 2017 quarterfinal run. They open with a mish mosh pairing of Ryan Harrison and Max Mirnyi. Having lost in the first round two of their last three trips to the desert, watch out for the big serves of Harrison and Mirnyi to potentially add to their wores. The survivor gets either Juan Martin Del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov of the Lopezes, Marc and Feliciano. Team Lopez made the semis in 2016, but lost in round one last year. They lost their opener in two of four tournaments this year and despite the lack of playing together, DelPo and Dimitrov could be tricky.

The Pig-nosticator

Marach-Pavic have the motivation and could get back on a roll if they exact some revenge on Mektic-Peya along the way. Rojer-Tecau could be the sneaky pick here if they avoid the upset in round one. That’s the big question mark for them. Mektic-Peya is the unseeded threat for sure in this quarter.

Quarter #3 Seeds
(4) Murray-Soares
(5) Herbert-Mahut

Breakdown
Murray-Soares have the tougher path to the quarterfinals. If they get out of round one against Petzschner-Thiem, they could face Rohan Bopanna and Eduoard Roger-Vasselin. Bopanna-ERV have yet to break out at 6-6 this season, but they’ve made two semifinals this year and rarely been an easy out. Bopanna-ERV will need to skirt past Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey in round one and that may be a tight match. In the Herbert-Mahut half, the French have Dzumhur-Krajinovic to contend with in round one. Look no further than their win over Kontinen-Peers to show that the French need to be on point from ball one.

The winner of that first rounder gets either Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos or Nicolas Monroe and Santiago Gonazalez. Cuevas-Zeballos are solid veteran duo with experience and while Monroe and Gonzalez are teaming up for the first time, both are solid doubles guys with track records of winning with multiple partners. Either one could provide a tough test in round two for either Herbert-Mahut or Dzumhur-Krajinovic. This part of the draw could blow wide open if a seed falls early.

The Pig-nosticator

I think this one could fall to a seed vs seed scenario in the quarterfinals. Both teams do have some pitfalls early though. I think Murray-Soares would be the likelier to not get to the quarters because of Bopanna-ERV. That’s my unseeded team to watch in this quarter with Cuevas-Zeballos also a dark horse team.

Quarter #4 Seeds
(2) Kontinen-Peers
(7) Bryans

Breakdown
Kontinen-Peers have a lot to prove during this Indian Wells-Miami swing. They’re off to a sluggish start and this swing has not been good to them during their previous two seasons together. As such, I don’t think they’ll be involved in the mix for a semifinal slot. They may escape round one against Mannarino-Martin. Round two would see either Diego Schwartzman and Marcus Daniell or Philipp Kohlschreiber and Lucas Pouille. Those are mix and match first time teams, but all with players who are pretty decent at doubles. I mean I have a hard time picking a team here to beat Kontinen-Peers based on talent and teamwork, but they just have not found their groove. I’d say IF they get past the French in round one, then perhaps they can work to the quarters.

It’s an all-brothers showdown in round one with the Bryans taking on the Zverevs, Mischa and Alexander. The Bryans got in a nice groove in Acapulco with a finals run and I think that carries over to start this week. A win would then likely get them a date against Pablo Carreno Busta and David Marrero. The Spaniards open against Kyle Edmund and Franko Skugor. PCB-Marrero do have some history together, but their best results have come on clay. Edmund is 1-10 all-time in ATP doubles matches, so even with a good partner like Skugor, tough to see them winning.

The Pig-nosticator

I think this quarter sets up nicely for the Bryans. The intrigue could come if Kontinen-Peers find some rhythm and we get an all-seeded quarterfinal. Kontinen-Peers have owned the Bryans with a 3-0 head-to-head record, including not dropping any sets against the American twins. That would be the big road block for the 7th seeds.

AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE BECAUSE THE PIG SAID SO ….

Your last three men’s doubles champions have been seeded 6th, 7th and 8th. 2012 was the last time an unseeded pair took home the titles with Marc Lopez and Nicolas Mahut doing the honors in an all-unseeded final against John Isner and Sam Querrey. If there is some unseeded magic this week, I think the mix of potential dark horses include Klaasen-Venus, Cabal-Farah and Mektic-Peya. My brain though is stuck on the Bryans this week, who haven’t won a title since last summer in Atlanta. If a top four seed breaks the curse, Marach-Pavic seem to have the best road in my estimation.