Indian Wells: Early Rounds to Feature Blockbuster Matchups
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  is expected to play Nick Kyrgios  in the third round. The winner of that match could likely face Gael Monfils , 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 , a semifinalist here last year, or Dominic Thiem .
The second quarter of the top half of the ATP draw presents tough competition for some younger players. Alexander Zverev  shares a section with Alex De Minaur  and Milos Raonic . The lower portion of that quarter may well pin Stefanos Tsitsipas  against Roberto Bautista Agut  as early as the third round. At 32 years old, Kevin Anderson  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  in the top quarter and Rafael Nadal  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  could potentially meet her sister Venus in an emotional final, or she could find herself battling Naomi Osaka  once again.
In the top of the draw, the tournament might be the breakthrough opportunity Danielle Collins  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  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  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 , Viktoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, and Sloane Stephens  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 , Ash Barty , Daria Kasatkina  and Jelena Ostapenko , 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.