The first of back to back ATP Masters 1000 events begins on Thursday in Indian Wells, California. Looking to defend his title is Novak Djokovic, who won last year’s event in a third set tiebreaker against Roger Federer. There is a clean bill of health for the top 10 while in the top 20 just David Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga miss the event through injury.
See the full draw Here: ATP Indian Wells 2015 Draw
With each of the 32 seeds receiving a bye, there are few notable early matchups. Djokovic begins his defence against either Marcos Baghdatis or Jiri Vesely. Fitness permitting, Baghdatis will be looking to make it three in a row against Vesely. The Cypriot retired in his last match during a third set tiebreak in Dubai. Djokovic could face fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki in the third round but Troicki must see of Albert Ramos and Julien Benneteau. The former looks straight forward on paper giving Ramos’ preference for clay. Troicki has moved back into the top 40 after his return from suspension and will have a great chance of picking up his first win against Benneteau at the third time of asking. The Frenchman is just 1-4 on the year with the sole win coming in Sydney.
John Isner looks to bounce back from Davis Cup disappointment with a good run here and opens with a qualifier. Isner’s loss to James Ward was decisive in Great Britain’s win over the US and Ward is amongst those hoping to earn a place in the main draw. A finalist in 2012, Isner is playing far below the level the saw him make that dream run. A big serving clash between him and Kevin Anderson is on the cards assuming the South African can see off either Federico Delbonis or Dusan Lajovic. Both players are far more comfortable on clay so it is tough to see either causing Anderson any trouble. Delbonis is 2-1 against Lajovic, with both wins coming on hard court.
Marin Cilic will play his first match of the year at this event and will be able to ease into the tournament with either Teymuraz Gabashvili or Juan Monaco up first while Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is the projected opponent in round three. While Garcia-Lopez actually defeated Cilic at Indian Wells 5 years ago, it is hard to see a repeat. Thanasi Kokkinakis will look to build on the momentum from his Davis Cup success at the weekend. His comeback win over Lukas Rosol was key in helping Australia defeat a weakened Czech Republic team. Kokkinakis faces Jan-Lennard Struff in round one.
Bernard Tomic was also part of that team, picking up two wins of his own. It feels as if a rematch of the Acapulco semi final is on the cards in round three with David Ferrer awaiting. Tomic will have to beat Andreas Haider-Maurer or a qualifier if he hopes to avenge the 4-6 6-3 1-6 loss while an 18-1 Ferrer opens against the winner of Ivan Dodig and Joao Sousa.
Andy Murray looks to complete his collection of outdoor hard court Masters titles with a victory here but his route to the final will be tough with both Djokovic and Kei Nishikori in the way. Two efficient Davis Cup displays suggest Murray is out of the post-Australian Open funk as he looks to better his 2009 final run. His round one opponent will come off a Davis Cup high with either Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin or Vasek Pospisil of Canada up first. Philipp Kohlschreiber (plays winner of Benjamin Becker-Tim Smyczek) is the projected round three opponent. They have yet to play on a hard court but split two matches on clay, the most recent at Roland Garros last year.
In theory, Fabio Fognini and Ernests Gulbis should both see off opening round opponents to book a clash between two of the tour’s bad boys. However, it is far from straight forward with this pair with Gulbis winless on the year while Fognini’s hard court results leave a lot to be desired. Fognini plays Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier while Gulbis will play Sam Groth or a qualifier.
Rounding off the top half of the draw is Kei Nishikori‘s section. The Japanese star temporarily moved into the top 4 with his performances this year and can improve further with just third round points to defend. That should be easy enough with either Ryan Harrison or a returning Mardy Fish in round two. He is 0-2 against projected opponent Fernando Verdasco in round three but his level in 2011/2012 is unrecognisable from the current day and he should get on the board in that matchup if Verdasco can beat Dominic Thiem or a qualifier.
A good run on the clay has seen Pablo Cuevas reach a career high ranking but hard courts are not really for the Uruguayan. He is 7-10 on the surface since he returned to the tour in late 2013 after a long time out with injury. He looks one of the most vulnerable seeds with Jarkko Nieminen or a qualifier hoping to spring a surprise win. Meanwhile, another player currently at their career high ranking hopes to improve further. Feliciano Lopez hit no.12 at the age of 33 and should be good to make a likely fourth round meeting with Nishikori. A battle of lefties in round two seems likely with Gilles Muller expected to get the better of Marinko Matosevic in their first round clash.
Simone Bolelli already has a win over sixth seed Milos Raonic this year in Marseille but will hope lightning strikes twice if he gets the chance to face the Canadian in round two. Bolelli opens against Thomaz Bellucci while Santiago Giraldo will play either Alexandr Dolgopolov or a qualifier. Dolgopolov is 5-5 on the year having made back to back quarter finals in Delray Beach and Acapulco.
One of the more attractive potential second rounders on paper is between Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov, assuming the Australian can see off wildcard Denis Kudla. However, Kyrgios is short on matches having not played since the Australian Open. Tommy Robredo is the projected third round opponent here but his 2015 has been far from stellar. He has won just 2 matches so far, both on the clay against wildcard opponents. Robredo will face either Andrey Golubev or Dustin Brown.
After failing to take the title in Rio, doubts have surfaced regarding Rafael Nadal. However, worries over the 2013 winner’s longevity have proved in the past to be unfounded and writing him off on the basis of a few poor results remains as crazy as it ever was. He opens against Igor Sijsling or a qualifier while Frenchmen likely stand in the way of him and the quarter finals. Jeremy Chardy is his expected third round opponent while the two seeds competing for a place in the fourth round in his section are Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon whom Nadal is 19-2 against.
Lukas Rosol looks to bounce back from Davis Cup disappointment with a run here but Stanislas Wawrinka waiting in round three will likely put paid to that. Martin Klizan or Pablo Andujar is up first and the Czech should have too much for them while Wawrinka faces Robin Haase or a qualifier. Wawrinka will probably have to defeat a second Czech if the draw goes to plan with a exciting encounter with Tomas Berdych projected in round four.
Wawrinka is 11-5 overall and 2-0 against the 9th seed who opens against Sam Querrey or Sergiy Stakhovsky. Aside from his run to the Memphis semi finals, Querrey has not won a match but an opponent he is 3-0 against is something to inspire confidence. Meanwhile, Steve Johnson and Ivo Karlovic face off for the second time in a month. Karlovic won that last clash in straights on his way to winning the title in Delray Beach.
Roger Federer was close to building further on his record four Indian Wells titles but was denied in the final by Novak Djokovic in a final set tie The Swiss is probably the favourite from the bottom half, especially if he continues in the form that saw him pick up the Dubai title. In round two he begins against either 6ft8 Jerzy Janowicz or Diego Schwartzman who comes in slightly shorter at 5ft7. Round three provides him with the opportunity to gain revenge over Andreas Seppi for the Australian Open loss. If the Italian fails to make it, Federer will be excited at the prospect of extending his lengthy win record over Mikhail Youzhny who faces a qualifier.
Leonardo Mayer comes into this event off his Davis Cup victory against Joao Souza, which lasted over 6 hours. A returning Jack Sock will fancy his chances of making a run here with Yen Hsun-Lu and Mayer standing between him and a round three place. Roberto Bautista-Agut will be a tougher test for the American, who has lost both matches against the 15th seed.
Check out the tips for the tournament Here: Indian Wells Betting Tips