The first Masters 1000 event of a tennis year is traditionally the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and although this tournament has been moved around because of the pandemic in recent times, it is back in its usual slot in the calendar and begins on Thursday.
This tournament took place in October last year when the conditions were much slower than usual. Cameron Norrie was able to take advantage of that to win the title and he will defend his crown this year. We should see a return to the norm this time round though which will bring the stars of the game into play.
2021 – Cameron Norrie
2019 – Dominic Thiem
2018 – Juan Martin del Potro
2017 – Roger Federer
2016 – Novak Djokovic
2015 – Novak Djokovic
2014 – Novak Djokovic
2013 – Rafael Nadal
2012 – Roger Federer
2011 – Novak Djokovic
This tournament is in keeping with the usual Masters 1000 format. 96 players will begin the tournament with 32 seeded players who receive byes into the second round with the other 64 men battling it out to face a seed in that stage of the tournament. Every match in the event is the best of three sets and there is a normal tiebreak in the final set. The draw has been announced and is played out as drawn in the bracket.
Daniil Medvedev is now the world number one and he is the leading seed in the tournament as a result of that. That means he is the big name in the top quarter of the draw and will be fancied to come through as a result. If all goes to plan he is scheduled to meet Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter final but six other seeds will be out to stop that from happening. They are Karen Khachanov, the beaten finalist from October, Nikoloz Basilashvili, the defending champion Cameron Norrie, Roberto Bautista Agut, Carlos Alcaraz and Gael Monfils.
Each quarter has 16 unseeded players in it and among them are Filip Krajinovic, home pair McKenzie MacDonald and J.J Wolf, the enigmatic Italian player Fabio Fognini who might be unsuited to the quicker conditions, Jenson Brooksby of whom a whole lot is expected of in the years to come while the home wildcard Jack Sock is also in this section. You would imagine the seeds will come to the fore here though.
The Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is the leading seed in the second quarter so we could have a semi-final showdown that is a repeat of that epic Melbourne finale of a few weeks ago. Nadal could have to get past the Norwegian ace Casper Ruud in the quarter final to get that far though. Six more seeds will be out to stop that happening with Federico Delbonis a player on the up being one of them. Lorenzo Sonego, Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov, Dan Evans and the leading home player Reilly Opelka being the others.
One standout name from those who aren’t seeded in this quarter is Seb Korda. He has the game to go deep this week. Marcos Giron and Lorenzo Musetti will be looking to pull off some surprises this week while the tournament also sees Borna Coric returning to action. The other standout name is the entertaining Australian player Nick Kyrgios while home hopes are high about Christopher Eubanks who is also in this section of the draw.
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This is the quarter where Alexander Zverev will head up the proceedings. He doesn’t look to have been too inconvenienced by the supposed investigation into his domestic abuse allegations and when you consider Matteo Berrettini is his seeded quarter final opponent, the German might fancy his chances of going deep here. Out to stop them both reaching the last eight are Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz who could be suited by conditions, Pablo Carreno Busta, the in form Felix Auger-Aliassime, Marin Cilic and Lloyd Harris.
Ugo Humbert and Holger Rune are a couple of emerging players who have the chance to shine this week, although the Frenchman might be a step further in his development than that. Botic van de Zandschulp flew on the scene last year and he’s in this quarter while from a British perspective Liam Broady is here too. Kamil Majchrzak, Jan-Lennard Struff and Tommy Paul are some of the others looking to show their best stuff here.
For some reason Novak Djokovic was put into the draw in the second quarter even though there was never a chance of him playing with his current vaccination status. He has now been removed which has left Andrey Rublev as the highest seed in a lopsided section. Grigor Dimitrov has come in as the 33 seed with the other six seeds in this quarter being Frances Tiafoe, Aslan Karatsev, Hubert Hurkacz, Diego Schwartzman, John Isner and Alexander Bublik.
Two names who have been much better in terms of their ranking previously to now are also in this quarter in the form of Andy Murray and David Goffin. The experienced trio of Jordan Thompson, Sam Querrey and Philipp Kohlschreiber are also in this section as are the likes of Richard Gasquet, Steve Johnson and Benoit Paire. Brandon Nakashima will hope to use the home crowd to his advantage for as long as possible too.
The eventual withdrawal of Novak Djokovic has significantly condensed the betting market for this tournament but when you consider that the big two of Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal are in the same half of the draw, I think it is worth taking advantage of the Djokovic withdrawal by targeting the bottom half this week. I’m keen to avoid Russians at the minute. While what is going on in Ukraine is not their fault, guilt by association could follow them around which makes me swerve Andrey Rublev, the man whose path to the latter stages was made much easier after Djokovic wasn’t allowed into the country.
That makes me think the potential value comes in Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third quarter. Admittedly he could run into Alexander Zverev fairly early on but the fallout from his chair bashing antics in Acapulco might catch up with him here. FAA has been in great form this year. He should have beaten Medvedev in the Australian Open quarter final when he had match point and since then has won his first tour title in Rotterdam. He also won the ATP Cup with Canada and was beaten by Rublev in the Marseille final last month. His form has caught fire in 2022 so I’ll take Auger-Aliassime this week.
Back F.Auger-Aliassime to win BNP Paribas Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Betfair (1/2 1-2)
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