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Indian Wells: Early Rounds to Feature Blockbuster Matchups

Mar 8th 2019

The ATP and WTA main draws are both underway as of Thursday at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. The Indian Wells tournament is famous for its sun and heat, but this year it is winding up to be cold and windy, with heavy clouds looming in the mountains nearby. Friday is forecast for a high of 68, with wind speeds exceeding 20 mph. Players who rely on their serves are already challenged by the gritty courts, but the gusty winds hand an even greater advantage to those who excel on the return.

On the ATP draw, the top quarter may well be the most drama filled. Novak Djokovic [1] is expected to play Nick Kyrgios [31] in the third round. The winner of that match could likely face Gael Monfils [18], who has been performing well with a 11-2 record since February 5th. The winner in that portion is then positioned to potentially face Borna Coric [11], a semifinalist here last year, or Dominic Thiem [7].

Alexander Zverev

The second quarter of the top half of the ATP draw presents tough competition for some younger players. Alexander Zverev [3] shares a section with Alex De Minaur [23] and Milos Raonic [13]. The lower portion of that quarter may well pin Stefanos Tsitsipas [9] against Roberto Bautista Agut [21] as early as the third round. At 32 years old, Kevin Anderson [5] rounds out the quarter with a great deal of experience that could prove helpful in the gusty conditions if he can control his serve.

The bottom half of the draw is defined largely by the looming presence of Roger Federer [4] in the top quarter and Rafael Nadal [2] in the second. Nadal holds five BNP Paribas Open titles, with three stemming from the singles competition and two from the doubles. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are tied for the record with five singles titles each.

With the depth of the WTA tour this year, every constellation of how early matches could shake out allows for wildly different narratives, but all with the potential for blockbuster matches. Serena Williams [10] could potentially meet her sister Venus in an emotional final, or she could find herself battling Naomi Osaka [1] once again.

Madison Keys

In the top of the draw, the tournament might be the breakthrough opportunity Danielle Collins [25] needs, if she can make it past a potential meeting with Osaka in the third round. In the second quarter, Venus Williams will meet Petra Kvitova [3] in the second round and the winner of that match could well face Maria Sakkari who proved herself at California’s other premier tournament in San Jose in 2018, where she reached the final and quickly became a fan favorite. Madison Keys [17] and Angelique Kerber are major threats, lurking further down in the same quarter.

Serena Williams could face any number of challenges to get out of her quarter, which she shares with Kiki Bertens [7], Viktoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, and Sloane Stephens [4] to name just a few. The final quarter has second seed Simona Halep as the one to beat, but sharing a quarter with Caroline Garcia [19], Ash Barty [12], Daria Kasatkina [14] and Jelena Ostapenko [22], there are plenty of scenarios that stop her from advancing.

With the unusually windy conditions this week, the early rounds will be telling in assessing how the tournament might shake out. Both draws having a smattering of highly competitive matches throughout that ensure plenty of entertainment for the fans of both tours.