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Monday Must-See Matches: Grand Slam Champions Clash, Paul Meets Red Hot Humbert
4 Min Read · March 11, 2024

Round 3 action continues at the BNP Paribas Open on Monday. Here are five of the best matches to watch in Tennis Paradise, starting with a clash between Grand Slam winners.

1. Aryna Sabalenka vs Emma Raducanu

Head-to-Head: First meeting

Aryna Sabalenka’s opening match against Peyton Stearns lasted over three hours and also saw her tweak her ankle. The test on Monday will be to see just how the two-time Australian Open champion recovers.


Did we mention that Sabalenka saved four match points, including three straight on the Stearns serve late in the third?

“I’m super happy that I didn't give up…and I was really pushing myself hard, even though I didn’t play my best tennis and she was crushing it like crazy,” said Sabalenka. “This match definitely goes into the book of craziest matches and the best matches of my career.”

Meanwhile, Raducanu heads into this contest fresh as she only needed four games to advance as second round opponent Dayana Yastremska retired with an injury. The 2021 US Open winner from Britain — from qualifying, no less — continues to post wins in Indian Wells after making the fourth round last season.

Sebastian Korda will look to get the better of Daniil Medvedev, a matchup he's had success with in the past.

2. Daniil Medvedev vs Sebastian Korda

Head-to-Head: Korda leads 2-1

Daniil Medvedev won’t need to be reminded of the danger Sebastian Korda presents. Last year’s Indian Wells finalist has lost to the American with heavy sporting ties in their last two duels.

One of the defeats came last year at the Australian Open. Afterwards, Medvedev showered the 23-year-old Floridian with heavy praise.

“His game, kind of different from everybody because very aggressive and, very early he takes the ball,” said Medvedev. “A little bit maybe like Novak (Djokovic). But not every player is capable of doing that, so that’s beautiful and that. If I do it, I would be ranked 700 in the world.”

Medvedev doesn’t take the ball early, and his ranking is much higher at No. 4.

Injuries have slowed the progress of Korda, whose dad Petr won the Australian Open and whose sisters Jessica and Nelly are elite golfers. But Korda beat the dangerous Roman Safiullin 6-4, 6-2 in the second round, winning about 65 percent of his service points.

Naomi Osaka is finding her stride and confidence in the desert as she makes her 2024 comeback to the Tour.

3. Naomi Osaka vs Elise Mertens

Head-to-Head: Osaka leads 3-1

Naomi Osaka is picking up steam in her comeback. When the Los Angeles resident beat Liudmila Samsonova in the second round, it marked her first Top 20 win since 2022 Miami.

“I'm appreciating just stepping out on the court so much every time,” Osaka, who gave birth to daughter Shai in July, said. “I know an athlete’s lifespan isn’t that long and it took me stepping away to realize that. I'm so thankful any time I can come on the court healthy.”

Osaka’s Indian Wells title in 2018 and all four of her Grand Slam titles have come on hard courts, but Elise Mertens knows how to compete on these courts, too. The No. 24 seed made her own breakthrough in 2018, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open. She is no stranger to reaching this stage at big events. At one stretch, Mertens made 18 consecutive third rounds at Grand Slams.

The Belgian is coming in with confidence as she lost just three points behind her first serve Saturday against China’s Xinyu Wang.

Tommy Paul was flawless in opening match of the 2024 BNP Paribas Open against Alex Michelsen.

4. Tommy Paul vs Ugo Humbert

Head-to-Head: Paul leads 2-0

If the year-end men’s championships were held right now, Ugo Humbert would be in the field since he’s inside the Top 8 in the calendar-year standings. The lefty has won two titles already — bettering Medvedev as he went all the way to the title in Dubai late last month — and sits at a career high No. 14 in the rankings.

Paul was unable to defend his semifinal points from last year’s Australian Open but his ranking (17) hasn’t dropped considerably. That’s because of his consistency through last season and his play after the 2024 Australian Open.

Paul won the title in Dallas and almost made it two in a row, downed by buddy Taylor Fritz in the Delray Beach finale. The North Carolina native Paul dropped a mere four games against California teen Alex Michelsen on Saturday — after they went to a third-set tiebreak in Delray.

The veteran Frenchman Gael Monfils showed he's still got what it takes, pulling off a Top 10 upset of Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday night.

5. Gael Monfils vs Cam Norrie

Head-to-Head: Monfils leads 3-0 

Gael Monfils is generally always box office material, and the Frenchman showed it again on Saturday night during his three-set win over former Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz.

In one point, Monfils toyed with the Pole, who opted to hit a pair of tweeners after he chased down a pair of drop shots.

The 37-year-old ended the point with an acrobatic smash, with the crowd lapping it all up. Monfils’ laid back demeanor is a contrast to the intense looking Norrie, the winner here in the 2021 fall edition. Norrie recently slipped outside the Top 20 for the first time since just before his crown in the desert three years ago.

To view Monday's complete Order of Play, click below:

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