Its March and it is time already for the year’s first ATP Masters 1000 series tournament-BNP PARIBAS OPEN, Indian Wells, California, USA or simply Indian Wells open to start. This is the 39th edition of this tournament since it’s foundation in 1974 and is one of the two ATP masters 1000 series tournaments played in the month of march. The men’s singles draw includes 96 players with 47 of the top 50 players already committing to take part in it this year. The tournament has unveiled a new stadium this year in the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden and the ardent tennis fans are awaiting for the men’s singles main play to start on Thursday, 6 March’14.the event is going to be played on outdoor hard courts.
World no. 1 and in-form Spaniard Rafael Nadal looks to defend his title and looks to add an unprecedented 27th Masters 1000 trophy to his collection of silverware having already captured his 26th last year in Cincinnati.
He beat Juan Martin Del Potro last year in this tournament. World no.7 Delpo seeded sixth this year looks in a relatively bad shape after his wrist problems bothering him since mid January. The Tandil tower is seeded 4th and looks to overcome his health issues after heartbreaking Round 2 and round 1 loss at Australian and Dubai open respectively. The Spaniard has recently won the inaugural event at Rio de Janerio on his favorite and best surface Clay and looks rock solid to challenge the players on tour even on the hard courts of America.
Another men to look for are the Swiss duo-Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer. ‘Stan the man’-Stanislas Wawrinka and the eventual Australian Open champion plays his first match since his Davis cup ties in February and hopes to continue his glittering and mesmerizing performance on a career high no.3 ranking and looks forward to win second title this year and his first masters 1000 series with a career best 11 match winning streak. The Swiss no.1 is definitely the man to be watched. He is seeded third and his best performances here are as a two time quarterfinalist (’08,’11)
Federer having recently won a career high 78th title and his 6th Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on fast courts of Dubai looks to continue his form after teaming up with his childhood hero Stefan Edberg and a new racquet with a larger frame and tasting success in recent matches, reaching at least semifinals or better at all the tournaments he has played this year. The Swiss legend looks to win his 5th tournament at the Indian Wells having previously won the trophy in 2004,’05,’06,’12.Having dropped to a career low ranking no.8, this dip doesn’t really seem to bother the Swiss no. 2 and he feels physically and mentally fit to be in the competition with his fellow players and is no.7 seed here.
Serbian Novak Djokovic seeded second here fell to the challenge of Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer in Australian and Dubai open respectively and failed to defend both his crowns but the world no.2 looks to take his coaching relationships with German star coach Boris Becker to new and better heights and looks forward to give the best he has in him and prove it to the world that why he is a constant threat to the players especially when it comes to hard courts. The man from Serbia is a second seed here.
Tomas Berdych, the big Czech hitter being a semifinalist at Australian Open (def. by Wawrinka), winner at the Rotterdam open and a finalist to Federer at Dubai open is also a big bet to hunt the top players like always and even he is looking ahead to play more matches and taste more victories this year. He is currently the world no.5 and is seeded fourth here.
The Brit no.1 and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is the 5th seed here who has recently recovered from a back surgery and played and reached semifinals of the Acapulco open in Mexico where he fell to Grigor Dimitrov’s challenge and looks to improve his form after bowing out in quarters of Australian open (l. to Federer) Currently Murray is world no.6 and looks to regain his confidence.
Another top 10 players include world no.9 Richard Gasquet seeded eighth and world no. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seeded ninth in this tournament.
World no. 4 David Ferrer has withdrawn from the tournament due to a sustaining leg injury which also forced him to retire mid-match against Kevin Anderson at Mexico Open.
Leaving the top 10 players the young guns to look for are Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and a bunch of other newcomers and qualifiers too. Nine Americans qualifiers have been added to the main draw of the 92 player field.
On the whole, it is difficult to judge about the one who’s going on top, but, once when play gets underway, it will become easier to predict a tentative winner. I place my bets on Nadal ,Djokovic,Wawrinka or Federer to win it. The rest, are supposed to create a few knuckles and chuckles to the mentioned above. Yet, I put these 4 on the stake to win this tournament.
The month of March definitely promises some great tennis packed action and promises breathtaking performances by top guns and cooks up a tasty tennis treat for the unconditional and fervent lovers of this great sport.
-Vishakha Khandelwal [Vishakha is a Tennis Analyst for Sportz Cosmos. You can reach her at the gmail id : sportzcosmos]