Djokovic

Djokovic can extend Indian Wells dominance

2017-03-07
A look at the potential outright winners at the BNP Paribas Open.

The world's best players have flown to the Californian desert for the first Masters series event of the season in Indian Wells.

The tournament, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, is arguably the best on the circuit in terms of facilities and setting and is a perennial favourite.

It is certainly high up on Novak Djokovic's list, with the world number two having won the title for the last three years and five times overall. But there is nothing predictable about Djokovic at the moment, which is reflected in his generous 5/2 odds.

There have been a few signs that the Serbian is beginning to look more like his old invincible self - his form in Acapulco last week was good until he ran into an inspired Nick Kyrgios. And those odds for a player who has not lost a match at the Tennis Garden since 2013 make him hard to resist.

World number one Andy Murray is the favourite at 2/1, and he arrived in the desert in good spirits after picking up his first title of the season in Dubai last weekend. Indian Wells has never been a happy hunting ground though for the Scot, whose only appearance in the final came back in 2009.

He has made a habit of breaking such hoodoos over the past 12 months, though, so do not count him out.

A better bet may be Rafael Nadal at 6/1. The high-bouncing conditions suit the Spaniard, a three-time champion, and after near misses already in 2017, a title is overdue.

Australian Open champion Roger Federer is available at the same price while Grigor Dimitrov (17/1), Juan Martin del Potro (20/1), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexander Zverev (both 40/1) are also worth considering.

The fact that last week's winners on the WTA Tour were Lesia Tsurenko and Ashleigh Barty rather sums it up - unpredictable.

The Australian Open aside, Karolina Pliskova (4/1) and Elina Svitolina (11/1) have been the stand-out players this season and both are tempting bets.

Then, of course, there is Serena Williams, playing her first tournament since passing Steffi Graf to win her 23rd grand slam title in Melbourne and available at 6/4.

Since returning to Indian Wells in 2015, Williams has come close to adding to her titles from 1999 and 2001, and last year she was beaten in the final by Victoria Azarenka.

Williams need not worry this time about Azarenka, absent from the tour following the birth of a son, and it would be a shame if the American finished her career without again winning the tournament closest to her roots.