The ATP Tour action got underway again yesterday with the first Masters 1000 Series of the season at Indian Wells, California, USA. Defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic (8/11) lines up and will attempt a three-peat while 2015 finalist and world number three Roger Federer does not line up this year as he is still recuperating from knee surgery.
Over the past decade the tournament has been dominated by the top three seeds who have won eight of the last ten titles between them. Top seed Djokovic will attempt to win his fifth Indian Wells title overall and is the clear favourite to win this week while Rafael Nadal is aiming for a fourth title.
However, the first and second seeds don’t have a particularly dominant record individually over the last decade and the top seed has won three of the last ten titles (2015, 2009 and 2006) and has never been a losing finalist in this period while the second seed has won the title twice in this period (2014 and 2007) and been a losing finalist once.
Seeded players in general have dominated the Indian Wells final over the last decade. A seeded player no higher than 20 has won the last ten titles, a seeded player no higher than 12 was a losing finalist nine times in this period and there has only been one unseeded player to make the final in the period back in 2008.
It’s also worth noting that players who took part in the Davis Cup at the weekend are likely to react to the physical exertions and any long haul travel in different ways, while players who missed the competition altogether due to non-selection or prior injuries may respond better if they are fully recovered as they will be much fresher.
In terms of potential winners second seed Andy Murray has to be taken seriously given his match record at Indian Wells. He reached the final in 2009 and has won 24 of 34 matches at the tournament. However, his exertions in the Davis Cup at the weekend and then long haul travel from the UK to the east coast of America are a negative.
Third seed Stan Wawrinka (10/1) is a two time quarter finalist at Indian Wells (2008 and 2011) and with a favourable draw (bottom half) he has a great chance of progressing past the quarter finals and has to be taken seriously. He looked good winning the ATP 500 Dubai tournament last month and his decision not to play in the Davis Cup this year could be significant, as he will be very well prepared and, at the prices, he’s definitely worth backing for the tournament.
The conditions in Indian Wells suit big servers and both 12th seed Milos Raonic (25/1) and 9th seed John Isner (50/1) have good records at the event. Raonic reached the semi-finals in 2015 while John Isner reached the final in 2012. Isner was in great form in the Davis Cup at the weekend and his serve was firing on all cylinders, which is a good sign for this week. With a first round bye he’s had extra time to recover from his Davis Cup exertions and is also worth a punt at big odds, but with a smaller stake as he’s in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, Nadal and Nishikori.
Milos Raonic had a great start to the year winning the title at Brisbane and reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open but he’s not played since due to an abductor tear picked up in his semi-final loss to Murray in Melbourne. He also missed the Davis Cup at the weekend, which is a negative. I still fancy his chances for the tournament at the prices, but would suggest waiting until he’s played his first match and, if he comes through it in comfortable fashion and unscathed, back him then.
From a match betting perspective big servers Jiri Vesely (7/12) and Lucas Rosol (3/4) are worth following tonight and the double pays a best price of 2.7.