ATP Indian Wells 2022 Draw Preview and Analysis

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The first of back to back Masters 1000 events begins on Thursday with Daniil Medvedev taking to the court for the first time as the World No.1. An early exit would send him back to No.2 but it will be on his terms as the continued harsh entry requirements in the US mean that Novak Djokovic is unable to enter the country and compete here or in Miami.

Medvedev is the marginal bookmakers favourite for the tournament but his recent losses to Rafael Nadal have placed the Spaniard on level footing in many places. All eyes would be on their potential semi final but it won’t be fully straight forward for the Russian, who would need to make the quarter finals to hold his No.1 ranking. The projected third round between Carlos Alcaraz and Roberto Bautista Agut could be an intriguing one especially with one of Medvedev’s worst losses in 2021 coming to Agut in Miami. Meanwhile, Alcaraz would not have been ranked high enough to compete here last year if the event was held in the traditional March slot. He is now just inside the top 20 at No. 19.

Cameron Norrie was the shock winner here last year, taking advantage of the depleted field. A first round loss in the Australian Open had many wondering if he would be able to live up to his impressive 2021 but he did bounce back in February. He was the champion in Delray Beach before losing in the final in Acapulco, putting up an admirable fight against Rafael Nadal. Stefanos Tsitsipas is the obvious main rival in this section as the No. 5 seed. He will be eager for revenge having lost in straights to Norrie in the Acapluco semi finals, making the head to head currently 1-1. Past and present American next big things in Jack Sock and Jenson Brooksby will hope to spring surprises if they get to their seeded opponents but there will be more confidence in Brooksby who is in the top 50 for the first time.

At the age of 35, Rafael Nadal is having the best start to a season in his career. Already at three titles and a 16-0 record, he has silenced a few doubters that he is on the way out any time soon. His comeback win to secure the Australian Open title showed he is still a continuous contender while he added another win against Daniil Medvedev in Acapulco to further establish that. It’s unlikely Dan Evans will trouble Nadal here but if Denis Shapovalov makes it to a fourth round encounter with Nadal, there is still potential for the upset. The Canadian gave him one of the toughest matches in Australia, almost pulling off a 0-2 comeback in the quarter finals.

The final section of the top half does feel like it will produce an opponent that won’t give Nadal or others too much trouble. Federico Delbonis looks ripe for a second round loss to a wildcarded Nick Kyrgios while the No. 8 seed Casper Ruud is still inconsistent on hard courts. The winner of a third round clash of Italians could produce the quarter finalist here with Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego both seeded. Sonego is falling out form at the worst time so Sinner should be the favourite to move on. He was a finalist at Miami last year but has often come up wanting on this surface against players perceived to be on his level or higher.

Although things reverted to type in Marseille, Felix Auger-Aliassime will be relieved to finally have ended his losing streak in finals with an impressive Rotterdam title victory. His beginning to 2022 does bode well for the rest of the year and he could take further steps here to showing he is ready to compete at the deep end of slams and 1000s on a regular basis. He will hope to repeat his Australian Open win against Marin Cilic if they meet in round three but more focus will be on Matteo Berrettini in the next round. The Italian is currently 2-1 against Auger-Aliassime and will be eager to establish himself as the best of the rest, something a deep run would help a lot with.

Alexander Zverev remains in the draw after narrowly avoiding a suspension after his exploits in Acapulco. He received a suspended ban rather than immediate for striking the umpire’s chair in anger. A calmer and more composed Zverev would be among the favourites here, especially being in the opposite half to Nadal and Medvedev. He has good records against the seeds in his section; 5-1 against Alex de Minaur and 2-0 against Pablo Carreno Busta. The latter is improving on hard courts but this kind of route should be fairly routine for Zverev on his way to the quarter finals.

2021 Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz will be desperate for a good run here ahead of defending his title in a fortnight’s time. The Pole has been fairly streaky with his results, best shown by winning just one of his next seven matches following the Miami title. His part of the draw looks fairly hard to predict but the favourite to advance from the quarter finals has to be Andrey Rublev. Rublev has already racked up two titles (Marseille, Dubai) this year, beating Hurkacz in the latter. Brandon Nakashima is one of the rising stars of American tennis and will look to boost his profile here – a winnable clash with Frances Tiafoe awaits if he can get through round one.

Like on the women’s side, the draw has shifted thanks to a late withdrawal. It is Grigor Dimitrov that is the beneficiary of Djokovic’s inability to compete, moving into the second seed slot as No. 33. He is in a section that looks fairly open, headed by Diego Schwartzman. The Argentinian is much improved on hard courts and will come here in good form having made two finals during the South American clay swing. If he wants to make the quarter finals, he is likely to need to fend off at least one big server in John Isner or Sam Querrey while Alexander Bublik is an outside shot as 31st seed. Andy Murray is also in this section but a consistent week or fortnight does appear unlikely at this stage of his career.

Final Prediction – Daniil Medvedev defeats Felix Auger Aliassime

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