The Indian Wells Masters is one of the highlights of the tennis calendar and this year’s edition is particularly welcome after the hiatus of 2020. The exertions of the tennis calendar have taken their toll and some of the top players from the ATP and WTA Tours are not available, but there are still plenty of high-class performers lining up for what promises to be a week of top tennis.
|WTA Indian Wells|
Sometimes known as the Fifth Major, the BNP Paribas Open, to give the tournament its official title, is part of the ATP and WTA Masters series, bringing together the best competitors from the two tours. Played on hard courts at the impressive Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, the second largest tennis stadium complex in the world, it has been won by some of the greatest players in the game.
This time around, there are a few notable absences. In the men’s tournament, there will be no Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, or Rafael Nadal, who are all injured, while Serena Williams will also be absent through injury. Novak Djokovic and the number one ranked player on the WTA Tour, Ashley Barty, are taking a break, while Naomi Osaka is still on hiatus. Those absences mean bettors will have to work a little harder than usual, but it does open up the possibility of big-priced winners.
In the absence of some of the big names from the WTA Tour, there’s a wide-open look to the betting ahead of the women’s tournament at Indian Wells.
Not surprisingly, given her strong form at the US Open, Emma Raducanu is considered the favorite by the latest tennis odds, and she will likely have plenty of support after she showed a liking for US hardcourt tennis at Flushing Meadow. Still, winning her first Grand Slam must have been a massive psychological high and it can sometimes be the case that a player struggles a little for motivation in their next outing if it is a lower class of contest, so at these odds, Raducanu looks short.
Raducanu’s wild card draw in the bottom half of the tournament also means she is bracketed with Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, and Simona Halep, although as older players, it is possible that they may be feeling the effects of a long hard season at this point.
World number three Karolina Pliskova will have her supporters, given her ranking and her good recent form that has seen her win 19 of her last 24, including an impressive 13 out of 17 on hard courts. But although she looks a solid bet to make the last eight at least, her record against the world’s better players is poor and she’s also lost her last four Grand Slam finals.
Olympic champion Belinda Bencic is another serious contender, as she has an excellent record against most of the leading contenders here, but there are signs that she is running out of steam, having been knocked out at the last eight stages in each of her last five tournaments. A better option could be Maria Sakkari, who is in Pliskova’s quarter of the draw. She reached the semi-final at the US Open, and the final of the Banka Ostrava Open, her first since 2018.
The men’s tournament gets started a day later than the women, and it also has a relatively open look, thanks to the defection of three of the game’s big guns. US Open winner Daniil Medvedev is prominent in the betting markets, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, and Matteo Berrettini and there’s an interesting wild card invitation for Andy Murray.
While Medvedev will be a strong contender, it could prove more profitable to focus on players who still have to shore up their place in the ATP Finals. Olympic Gold winner Zverev certainly comes into that category and will be bidding for his third Masters’ win of the season, but he seems to have been handed an unwelcome draw that will pit him against two of the best young players around.
Zverev is likely to face Jenson Brooksby, who recently took a set off Djokovic at the US Open, in the First Round, and could also be up against a tough opponent in the Third Round. That could be rising talent Carlos Alcaraz, who reached the last eight at Flushing Meadow, or even Andy Murray, whose competitive spirit and liking for hardcourt US tennis are both well established, even if he isn’t the player he was.
Instead, it could pay to focus on Rublev and Berrettini. Rublev will want to go deep into this tournament in order to safeguard his Finals spot and he could have the additional motivation of revenge over Cameron Norrie, who defeated him at the San Diego Open last time. The pair are due to meet in the Fourth Round and Rublev has a relatively straightforward route to the last eight. Berrettini is also worth a look, as he appears to have a good run to the quarter-finals, although he will have likely have to beat Zverev if he is to lift the trophy.