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Indian Wells 2022: Men's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | BNP Paribas Open

Rafael Nadal in action in Mexico.
Rafael Nadal in action in Mexico.
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Rohit

The first Masters 1000 tournament of the season is about to get underway as all the biggest stars of tennis convene at Indian Wells.

World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev is the top seed, with Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal rounding out the top four. The Serb hasn't officially withdrawn and is a part of the draw for now, though his participation is currently hanging in the balance.

The remainder of the top 20 is also fully accounted for, with players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and defending champion Cameron Norrie raring to go.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray and 2022 Australian Open doubles winner Nick Kyrgios are also in the fray. However, a few high-profile names are still missing, as Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem remain on the sidelines due to various health issues.

Meanwhile, Borna Coric makes his return following a lengthy injury lay-off.

With main draw action set to begin on Thursday, here is a look at the prospects of the top players.


First quarter: Newly crowned World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev will aim to improve his record in Indian Wells

Daniil Medvedev is the top seed at the 2022 Indian Wells Masters.
Daniil Medvedev is the top seed at the 2022 Indian Wells Masters.

Top seeded players: (1) Daniil Medvedev, (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas, (12) Cameron Norrie and (15) Roberto Bautista Agut.

Expected quarterfinal: Daniil Medvedev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Dark horse: Jenson Brooksby.

Daniil Medvedev ascended to the top of the rankings last month after reaching the final of the Australian Open and the semifinals in Mexico.

He was defeated by Rafael Nadal on both occasions. While he led by two sets to love in Melbourne, the Spaniard defeated him in straight sets in Mexico.

Medvedev's record on hardcourt over the last few years has been outstanding, but his performances in Indian Wells have been underwhelming. It's the only big tournament where he hasn't reached the quarterfinals and has won just five matches in four appearances.

With all seeded players receiving a first-round bye, Medvedev will start against Alexei Popyrin or a qualifier in the second round. He will likely have a third-round meeting with Gael Monfils.

Monfils started the year on a strong note as he won the title in Adelaide and made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. But the Frenchman has lost some momentum of late.

Medvedev's fourth-round opponent could be either Carlos Alcaraz or Roberto Bautista Agut. Alcaraz won the biggest title of his career at the Rio Open last month, while Bautista Agut led Spain to the ATP Cup final. Both players could challenge Medvedev, who is yet to progress beyond the fourth round of the tournament.

Cameron Norrie is the defending champion in Indian Wells.
Cameron Norrie is the defending champion in Indian Wells.

Cameron Norrie will start his title defense against Pedro Martinez or a qualifier. He could face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who he defeated in the Indian Wells final last year, in the third round. The Brit is playing quite well after a slow start to the year, winning the title at Delray Beach and reaching the final in Mexico.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has posted consistent results this year. He'll begin his Indian Wells campaign against either Jack Sock or Juan Manuel Cerundolo. One of Karen Khachanov and Jenson Brooksby could await him in the third round.

Brooksby is the one to watch out for and could upset Khachanov. If the American youngster wins those two matches, he's likely to meet Norrie in the fourth round.

Quarterfinal prediction: Daniil Medvedev def. Cameron Norrie.


Second quarter: Rafael Nadal is the man to beat

Rafael Nadal has won the Indian Wells Masters thrice.
Rafael Nadal has won the Indian Wells Masters thrice.

Top seeded players: (4) Rafael Nadal, (8) Casper Ruud, (10) Jannik Sinner and (13) Denis Shapovalov.

Expected quarterfinal: Rafael Nadal vs Casper Ruud.

Dark horse: Nick Kyrgios.

Rafael Nadal has made a brilliant start to the year, winning three titles, including his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. He remains undefeated with a career-best 15-0 start to the year. The Spaniard is the firm favorite to win his fourth title of the season at Indian Wells.

Following a first-round bye, Nadal will likely start against Sebastian Korda followed by a potential third-round encounter with Dan Evans. Reilly Opelka or Denis Shapovalov are likely to await him in the fourth round. While the Canadian defeated Opelka at the Australian Open, he has been rather inconsistent this year.

If Shapovalov reaches the last 16, he could set up a rematch of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Nadal. The Canadian fought hard in that match, but the Spaniard eventually won in five sets.

👀 ➡️ Round 2️⃣Sebastian Korda could meet three-time BNP Paribas Open champion Rafael Nadal in the second round...#IndianWells https://t.co/N6Bri7CHQl
This is Ruud's second appearance at the Indian Wells Masters.
This is Ruud's second appearance at the Indian Wells Masters.

Casper Ruud's year so far has been interrupted by frequent injuries. He did well in the ATP Cup to win two of his three group ties, but had to withdraw from the Australian Open after that. He returned to action at the Argentina Open and won the title as well, but withdrew from the Rio Open due to another injury.

Ruud will face either Maxime Cressy or a qualifier in the second round. Nick Kyrgios is also in this section, and if he gets past Sebastian Baez and Federico Delbonis, he could meet Ruud in the third round.

Jannik Sinner is another top player in this part of the draw and could be challenged by compatriot Lorenzo Sonego in the third round. Otherwise, Sinner has a relatively straightforward path to the fourth round, where he could take on either Ruud or Kyrgios.

Quarterfinal prediction: Rafael Nadal def. Jannik Sinner.


Third quarter: Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Felix Auger-Aliassime lead the Next Gen charge

Alexander Zverev at the 2022 Australian Open.
Alexander Zverev at the 2022 Australian Open.

Top seeded players: (3) Alexander Zverev, (6) Matteo Berrettini, (9) Felix Auger-Aliassime and (16) Pablo Carreno Busta.

Expected quarterfinal: Alexander Zverev vs Matteo Berrettini.

Dark horse: Tommy Paul.

Alexander Zverev continues to be in the news for the wrong news. After attacking the chair umpire and verbally abusing him in Mexico, he's currently on probation.

The German's results have been decent this season, with a final in Montpellier being the highlight. At Indian Wells, he's set to face either Grigor Dimitrov, who reached the semifinals last year, or Tommy Paul in the second round.

Alex de Minaur is Zverev's likely third-round opponent, with either Pablo Carreno Busta or Taylor Fritz challenging him in the fourth round.

Felxi Auger-Aliassime at the 2022 Australian Open.
Felxi Auger-Aliassime at the 2022 Australian Open.

After eight runner-up finishes, Felix Auger-Aliassime finally won his first career title at the Rotterdam Open. He then reached the final in Marseille as well, but lost to Andrey Rublev. He also made the last eight at the Australian Open.

He kicks off his Indian Wells challenge against either Botic van de Zandschulp or a qualifier. Auger-Aliassime could meet 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the third round, followed by a fourth-round clash against Matteo Berrettini.

The Italian made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals in Rio this year. He, however, retired from his opening-round match in Mexico due to an injury.

Berrettini has a cakewalk of a draw until the fourth round with two of the players in his section, Ugo Humbert and Lloyd Harris, on five-match losing streaks. This also gives Henri Laaksonen and Facundo Bagnis, along with a yet-to-be-placed qualifier, an opportunity to make a decent run at the tournament.

Quarterfinal prediction: Felix Auger-Aliassime def. Alexander Zverev.


Fourth quarter: Andrey Rublev will look to continue winning streak

Novak Djokovic is a five-time Indian Wells champion.
Novak Djokovic is a five-time Indian Wells champion.

Top seeded players: (2) Novak Djokovic, (7) Andrey Rublev, (11) Hubert Hurkacz and (14) Diego Schwartzman.

Expected quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic vs Andrey Rublev.

Dark horse: Andy Murray.

Subject to approval from the relevant authorities, Novak Djokovic might get to compete in Indian Wells. He has only participated in one tournament this year, the Dubai Tennis Championships, where he was upset in the quarterfinals by Jiri Vesely. He's got a straightforward opening match at Indian Wells, against either David Goffin or Jordan Thompson.

A potential third-round showdown with long-time rival Andy Murray awaits, provided he gets past Alexander Bublik in the second round. The Brit will start off against a qualifier in the first round and is likely to win that match.

In the event that Djokovic isn't allowed to compete, Grigor Dimitrov, who would've been seeded if the Serb wasn't participating, will take his spot in the draw. The Bulgarian isn't in the best form right now, but he made the last four here in 2021. He's likely to get to the fourth round at least if he gets moved to this section.

The winner is likely to take on Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round. After a slow start to the season, Schwartzman found his footing during the South American clay swing and reached two finals. John Isner could provide a stern test in the third round, but the Argentinian is likely to emerge unscathed.

Andrey Rublev is one of the favorites to win the Indian Wells title.
Andrey Rublev is one of the favorites to win the Indian Wells title.

Andrey Rublev has gotten better and better as the season has progressed. After a third-round exit from the Australian Open, he made it to the semifinals in Rotterdam. He then won back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai and has arrived in Indian Wells on the back of a nine-match winning streak.

Rublev will commence his quest for a third title on the trot against either Benoit Paire or Dominik Koepfer. His next opponent could be either Frances Tiafoe or Adrian Mannarino. If the seeds hold up, he will face Hubert Hurkacz in the third round.

Hurkacz is likely to face Aslan Karatsev in the third round, but the Russian is going through a rough patch at the moment and could lose early yet again. Hurkacz has similarly struggled for form, but a semifinal showing in Dubai is bound to have boosted his confidence.

Quarterfinal prediction: Andrey Rublev def. Novak Djokovic/Grigor Dimitrov.


Prediction for semifinals:

Rafael Nadal def. Daniil Medvedev.

Andrey Rublev def. Felix Auger-Aliassime.


Prediction for the final:

Rafael Nadal def. Andrey Rublev.


Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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