Indian Wells Men's Day One Tips: Lajovic can defeat countryman Krajinovic

With the women's tournament getting underway last night, the men's event at Indian Wells commences this evening. Returning to preview day one is Dan Weston...

Slow conditions give opportunities to clay-courters

There's plenty to get our teeth into on day one of Indian Wells, despite the absence of the seeded big names with first-round byes who are unlikely to start their tournament until Saturday at the earliest.

Ultimately, this means that we are going to need to focus on some smaller names for the opening couple of days in California, and I want to re-iterate here (I also did similar in the outright preview) that conditions are likely to be pretty slow for a hard court.

This dynamic is unlikely to help big-servers and could provide assistance to more return-oriented clay-courters, who have historically picked up some big-priced winners in the early stages of this event - don't fall into the trap of thinking a line on a hard courter versus a clay courter is too big, it might well not be.

Lajovic fits the bill for all-Serbian clash

A clay-courter who doesn't mind slower conditions at all is Dusan Lajovic, and the Serb looks generously priced as a 2.42 underdog for his meeting with fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic. This year so far has been a bit of a struggle for Krajinovic, who has had some back problems and he also struggled towards the second half of 2021 as well.

Lajovic hasn't impressed this year either - save for a big-priced win on quicker hard court against Sebastian Korda - but his expectations will have been markedly lower than his countryman. Lajovic has been a sizeable underdog in many of his matches this year, because quicker hard courts aren't really his thing.

Slower hard courts, however, might well be more to Lajovic's liking - he has a positive win/loss record throughout his career at Indian Wells (including qualifiers) and made the quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2017. He also competed relatively well as a heavy underdog in losses in recent years at this venue. I don't mind Lajovic at all at this current market price.

Kyrgios line could be a trap

One match where the trap mentioned earlier could occur is Nick Kyrgios at 1.63 versus Sebastian Baez. The Australian, Kyrgios, has played just one tournament this year and only a handful in the second half of 2021. On a quicker hard court, he should blow away his clay-court specialist opponent, but this isn't a quicker hard court.

Baez has built on some impressive displays last year in Challengers on his preferred surface, and reached the final on clay in Santiago several weeks ago, and looks to be on a nice upward ability curve. Don't be surprised if Baez ousts Kyrgios tonight.

Korda versus Kokkinakis one of the matches of the round

In other matches, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Maxime Cressy lands a knockout blow on Chris Eubanks' chances of progression - the Frenchman is likely to start at around 1.50 and looks the better player by some distance based on my numbers, while in the early hours UK time, Sebastian Korda faces Thanasi Kokkinakis in what looks a pretty intriguing clash.

The match winner markets are still to fully form on the Exchange, but early market pricing suggests Korda will start as the favourite here. I do rate Korda's upside extremely highly and he is certainly on my watchlist, but Kokkinakis impressed in the pre-Australian Open warm-up events and has qualified to get to this stage, without dropping a set. The duo met at Delray Beach in mid-February, with Korda winning 6-4 6-1 and it looks likely that they'll be priced pretty similarly tonight.

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