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In one week, the stars of the ATP Tour will descend on Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open. But first, the ATP Challenger Tour takes centre stage in the desert, boasting one of the strongest fields of the year.The Indian Wells Tennis Garden welcomes a loaded draw for the Challenger 125 event, featuring 10 players inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Top seed and World No. 42 Ugo Humbert leads the field and is joined by countryman and 58th-ranked Lucas Pouille.Cameron Norrie, Radu Albot, Steve Johnson, Jannik Sinner, Yuichi Sugita and Frances Tiafoe round out the Top 8 seeds, with an unseeded Hyeon Chung making his 2020 debut. Other names to keep an eye on include 18-year-old and Southern California native Brandon Nakashima, who recently reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final in Delray Beach. Maxime Cressy is coming off a title and final run on Canadian soil, in Drummondville and Calgary, while Thai-Son Kwiatkowski prevailed in nearby Newport Beach a month ago. Kwiatkowski opens against Chung.View Indian Wells Draws: Singles | DoublesIn the top half of the draw, Humbert could face Sinner in the quarter-finals, which would be a rematch of their round-robin affair at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals. Norrie, Nakashima, Chung and Kwiatkowski also headline the top half. Meanwhile, Pouille, Johnson, Albot, Tiafoe and red-hot Aussie Christopher O'Connell lead the way in the bottom half of the draw.Indian Wells is the fourth and final tournament of the annual Oracle Challenger Series, which kicked off in New Haven and Houston in 2019 and moved to Newport Beach last month. Oracle will award the two Americans with the best cumulative results with main draw wild cards into the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event. Newport Beach champ Kwiatkowski, Houston champ Marcos Giron and Mitchell Krueger - semi-finalist in both Houston and Newport Beach - are vying for those two berths.The doubles field in Indian Wells is equally as stacked, with Alexander Zverev taking a wild card with brother Mischa Zverev. They are joined by Sinner/Tiafoe, Pouille/Gregoire Barrere, Michael Mmoh/Jack Sock and defending champions JC Aragone/Marcos Giron. The top seeds are Americans Nicholas Monroe and Jackson Withrow, with Matt Reid and fellow Aussie Marc Polmans seeded second.Four Top 100 Stars Headline MonterreyThe only other tournament on this week's slate is in Monterrey. The Abierto GNP Seguros features World No. 42 Adrian Mannarino as top seed, with Feliciano Lopez, Pablo Andujar and Ricardas Berankis joined by 2016 champion Ernesto Escobedo.
Alex de Minaur defeated Miomir Kecmanovic at last year's Next Gen ATP Finals. But Kecmanovic got his revenge on Monday evening at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, rallying past the Aussie 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes to reach the second round.Kecmanovic, the World No. 50, is just three spots off his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a strong start to the season, reaching the semi-finals at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and the New York Open.Watch De Minaur Hot Shot:Kecmanovic made it clear from early in the match that he wanted to control play against the speedy De Minaur. But at first, the Aussie had the answer for Kecmanovic's aggression from the baseline, winning 71 per cent of his second-serve return points in the first set.The Serbian did not back down, though, saving all eight break points he faced in the final two sets to triumph. This was De Minaur's first match since pushing Rafael Nadal to three sets in the semi-finals of the ATP Cup in Sydney. Kecmanovic will next play top-seeded Nadal or his fellow Spaniard, Pablo Andujar.[WATCH LIVE 1]Tommy Paul won an all-American battle against Mackenzie McDonald 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 to set a potential clash against second seed Alexander Zverev, who opens against qualifier Jason Jung. Paul is at a career-best World No. 66.Frenchman Adrian Mannarino also advanced, ousting wild card Cameron Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. The lefty will next play seventh seed and 2014 champion Grigor Dimitrov or qualifier Damir Dzumhur.
Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka beat American wild card Brandon Nakashima 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. But it was more than just an ordinary win for the 24-year-old.The victory nearly guarantees that Nishioka will climb past his previous career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 58 on Monday. It’s an emotional accomplishment for the lefty, who achieved that ranking on 20 March 2017. Four days later, he tore his left ACL and he would fall as low as World No. 380 in April 2018.“That should be my career-high ranking after coming back from my knee surgery,” said Nishioka, currently World No. 63. “I’m very happy for that.”[WATCH LIVE 3]Nishioka didn’t need to save a match point against Nakashima, but he was certainly tested. In the third set, Nishioka took a 5-1 lead, but Nakashima brought it back to 5-4 before the Japanese was able to finish off his victory. “I think he played great tennis today… he played almost perfectly,” Nishioka said of Nakashima, who was trying to reach his first tour-level semi-final in his ATP Tour main draw debut. “He was playing so good from the beginning. I thought I lost today.“He can hit the ball, he never misses that much. His service games are perfect. It was a very tough match, but I just kept my mind straight and just focussed.”[ATP APP]Nishioka will next play sixth seed Ugo Humbert, who was efficient in a 6-1, 6-2 win against 2018 champion Frances Tiafoe.“Big performance today. It’s never easy to play Frances. You have to be at 100 per cent if you want to have a chance to win,” Humbert said. “He’s always dangerous, he has a big serve, big forehand, and I tried to stay focussed on my plan and what I had to do.”Humbert is into his fifth ATP Tour semi-final, and his second in the United States. The lefty is the first Frenchman to reach the Delray Beach semi-finals since Adrian Mannarino in 2015.
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