2024 Indian Wells ATP preview

KNOWN as “The Fifth Slam”, Indian Wells is the most prestigious tennis tournament outside the four majors. Held in the Californian desert, Indian Wells boasts massive fields of 96 men and 96 women battling it out from a shared prize pool of $9 million USD. Today both singles draws were released and we take a look at what to expect in the ATP and WTA 1000 events. This preview will focus on the men’s.

Men’s Singles:

First Quarter

Projected Round of 32: (If all seeds won through)

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [30] Tomas Etcheverry (ARG)
[17] Tommy Paul (USA) vs. [14] Ugo Humbert (FRA)
[9] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. [23] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
[28] Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs. [8] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

In what will be his first tournament since bowing out in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, world number one Djokovic returns to the court and could play his number one fan on Tour in the Round of 32. Etcheverry has always compared himself to the Serbian great, or more so the distance between them, and he relishes any opportunity to face him. Zhizhen Zhang could be a danger for the Argentinian as could his first round opponent Aleksandar Kovacevic in his home nation, but expect Djokovic to cruise through.

The form Humbert is in, it is hard to see anyone before Djokovic troubling him. Could a return to the United States turn Paul’s form around in 2024? He will take on the more in-form, but inconsistent Alex Michelsen in the second round, but still expect it to be a Humbert-Paul Round of 32, with Humbert likely to face Djokovic in the fourth round.

Frenchman Arthur Fils had a clay season to forget so far, but he should get past Nuno Borges in the first round, and will test Davidovich Fokina in the second. There are no real tests for Ruud though, he will face a qualifier in the Round of 64.

There’s far more bite and unpredictability to the bottom group of six than the others, with all six players capable of causing the odd upset. Norrie will take on either Lorenzo Sonego or Miomir Kecmanovic, while Hurkacz faces the winner of Gael Monfils or Max Purcell. Hurkacz should get through, though Sonego could the surprise player facing him in the third round.

Second Quarter

Projected Round of 32: (If all seeds won through)

[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. [29] Sebastian Korda (USA)
[21] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs. [13] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
[12] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. [19] Sebastian Baez (ARG)
[26] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) vs. [7] Holger Rune (DEN)

This group of 32 is where there is potential for non-seeded players to advance. While Medvedev should cruise through to the Round of 32 without any issues, Korda will need to beat Daniel Evans in the second round in what will be a contrast of styles.

Mannarino has a nightmare second round match against either Stan Wawrinka or Tomas Machac who could both hit him off the court and open up the draw, though Dimitrov will likely have no issues en route to the third round.

Given the form Baez is in, the Argentinian should account for Fabio Fognini, as should Fritz who most likely will play the more in-form, Alejandro Tabilo in the second round.

The ottom six is mouthwatering with Grand Slam champion and former number one Rafael Nadal making his return at Indian Wells. Incredibly, he has drawn fellow veteran Milos Raonic in the first round with the winner to take on Rune. Given Nadal’s ability, he is more than likely there and should escape Rune given Rune’s inconsistency of late. In the other match, the injury prone Denis Shapovalov takes on the tricky Botic Van de Zandschulp for the right to face Musetti. On form Musetti should still win, but it is a massive second round game whichever way the first round flips.

Third Quarter

Projected Round of 32: (If all seeds won through)

[5] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. [32] Jiri Lehecka (CZE)
[18] Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. [11] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
[16] Ben Shelton (USA) vs. [22] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG)
[25] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs. [3] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

Sinner has a very favourable draw in his portion of the quarter compared to Rublev, and should not find any threats unless Shelton finds his best form. He will take on the winner of Thanasi Kokkinakis and Marcos Giron, while Borna Coric has a huge opportunity to role Struff and reach the third round.

Cerundolo takes on one of Alexander Shevchenko and Dominik Koepfer who can be dangerous, but regardless Shelton should take any of the three if he lives up to his potential. In fact his most dangerous threat in the eight-player group is Czech wildcard Jakub Mensik with the talented teenager set to face off against the American in the second round.

Coming off a win over Zverev, Daniel Altmaier‘s confidence will be sky high against Tsitsipas, while Tiafoe likely faces Emil Ruusuvuori. While both matches are not easy for second round encounters, both seeded players should advance.

Rublev has a potential date with Andy Murray – who plays a qualifier – in the second round, while Lehecka takes on an American in either the returning Brandon Nakashima or the 34th ranked Christopher Eubanks which is tough for the 32nd seed.

Fourth Quarter

Projected Round of 32: (If all seeds won through)

[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. [27] Tallon Griekspoor (NED)
[20] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) vs. [10] Alex de Minaur (AUS)
[15] Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs. [24] Nicolas Jarry (CHI)
[31] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. [2] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

After losing first round last week, Zverev will be nervously awaiting in-form Brit Jack Draper who should advance to face him in the second round. That is a danger game for the German, with Griekspoor set to be easier, but still tricky.

Two of the more in-form players are set to face-off in the third round of Indian Wells with Bublik and de Minaur going head-to-head. The Australian defended his title, while Bublik also made an ATP 500 final. The Kazakh is set to play the red-hot Jordan Thompson though, which could prompt an all-Australian third round clash.

There does not look like much stopping Khachaov and Jarry facing off in the third round, with the latter to face one of Alexei Popyrin or Fabian Marozsan, while Khachanov will likely take on local hope, J.J. Wolf.

Auger-Aliassime will face a qualifier and then jump up to world number two against Alcaraz in the third round. The Spaniard will take one a rising star in either Matteo Arnaldi or Luca Van Assche, both of whom will be names to remember in the future.

Predicted Quarter Finals:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [8] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. [PR] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[5] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. [3] Jannik Sinner (ITA)
[10] Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs. [2] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Predicted Semi-Finals:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
[3] Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs. [2] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Predicted Final:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [3] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

Winner: Jannik Sinner (ITA)

The tip leans the way of the most in-form player on the planet, with Sinner just at the peak of his powers now. Djokovic and Alcaraz are severely underdone comparatively, and Medvedev is a huge chance to knock of Djokovic and produce a rematch of the Australian Open final. Do not discount de Minaur as a potential semi-finalist, but it is tricky to see him knocking off Sinner.

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