The first ATP Masters 1000 Series of the season at Indian Wells, California USA gets underway this afternoon and top seed Andy Murray, who has received a dream draw, is the tournament favourite, followed by five time champion and defending champion Novak Djokovic seeded two, four time champion and third seed Roger Federer and three time champion and fifth seed Rafa Nadal.
Over the past decade the tournament has been dominated by the Djokovic, Federer and Nadal who have won nine of the last ten titles and Andy Murray’s best result was one final appearance in 2009, which suggests the conditions do not suit his game and as a result it’s hard to get excited about his chances of winning a first title this year. 2016 finalist Milos Raonic does not play this year due to injury, but apart from that the tournament has attracted a stellar line-up with nineteen of the world’s top-20 and 44 of the world’s top-50 taking part.
The first and second seeds do not have the strongest record at Indian Wells and the top seed has won three of the last ten titles, including the last two (both Djokovic) and they were never a losing finalist in this period and the second seed has only won two of the last ten titles (last 2014 Djokovic) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (2015 Federer).
Seeded players in general have dominated the Indian Wells title over the last decade and one of the top three seeds has won eight of the last ten titles (last top-seed 2016 Djokovic) and a seeded player no higher than 20 won the last ten titles. A seeded player no higher than 12 was a losing finalist nine times in this period (Last Raonic 2016 seeded 12) and there has only been one unseeded player to make the final in the period back in 2008.
From a betting perspective neither top-seed Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic appeal given Murray’s record at Indian Wells and Novak Djokovic’s draw and form so far this year. From the top half of the draw seventh seed Tsonga (40/1) has been in great form of late winning two titles at Rotterdam and Marseille recently and has to be respected.
Also, eighth seed Dominic Thiem (40/1), who is in the second quarter (which looks more than winnable) could go well this year as third seed Wawrinka’s best result here is a quarter-final appearance and the likes of 13th seed Berdych and tenth seed Monfils both look past their best nowadays. The bottom half of the draw is far more competitive but 12th seed Dimitrov (25/1) and 23rd seed Querrey (100/1) both reside in the third quarter and they avoid Djokovic, Federer and Nadal at least until the semi-final stage and their form this year suggests both could be a serious contenders for the title.