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Ricky’s Full Tournament Preview and Picks for Men’s Singles at the 2021 Indian Wells Tennis Masters

Stefanos Tsitsipas is seeded second at the BNP Paribas Open. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES.

By Ricky Dimon

It has been 31 months since the last ball was struck in the men’s main draw of the BNP Paribas Open–when Dominic Thiem beat Roger Federer in the final. That was in March of 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic cancelled the event entirely in 2020 and this year it was postponed from the spring to the fall.

At long last tennis has returned to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer aren’t there and neither is Thiem, but the field of 96 does feature U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Andrey Rublev.

The title is relatively up for grabs with Djokovic and Nadal on the sidelines. In fact, there is not a single former champion in the entire draw and only Andy Murray and John Isner have ever reached the final. Who will take advantage of a big opportunity in the desert this fortnight?

BNP Paribas Open
Where: Indian Wells, Calif.
Points: 1000
Top seed: Daniil Medvedev
2019 champion: Dominic Thiem (not playing)

Medvedev may be the No. 1 seed, but he does not have the easiest draw. The second-ranked Russian could run into Botic Van de Zandschulp in the third round. After making a run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Van de Zandschulp was the only player to take a set off Medvedev in the entire tournament. Reilly Opelka is a potential fourth-round foe for the U.S. Open champ. Medvedev generally handles big servers, but Opelka has been in fine form and Indian Wells conditions should suit his game. Hubert Hurkacz, who upset Medvedev at Wimbledon and is in Nitto ATP Finals contention, also finds himself in the top quarter of the bracket.

The rest of the top half includes Rublev, San Diego champion Casper Ruud, Diego Schwartzman, San Diego runner-up Cameron Norrie, and U.S. Open quarterfinalist Lloyd Harris. Harris in the third round and Schwartzman in the fourth would not be easy Ruud–no matter how well he is playing.

In the bottom half, projected quarterfinals are Tsitsipas vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Zverev vs. Berrettini.

But those matchups may not come to fruition, of course. Auger-Aliassime could be challenged by Nikoloz Basilashvili in the round of 32 and either Pablo Carreno Busta or Karen Khachanov immediately thereafter. Zverev is likely to open with Jenson Brooksby before facing Murray or Carlos Alcaraz. The Zverev-Berrettini quarter is also home to Isner, Jannik Sinner, Gael Monfils, and Lorenzo Sonego.

Andrey Rublev on the stretch. Photo credit: San Diego Open

Cold: Denis Shapovalov, Sam Querrey, Vasek Pospisil, Jaume Munar, Feliciano Lopez, Tennys Sandgren, Guido Pella, Feliciano Lopez, Joao Sousa, Lorenzo Musetti, Jan-Lennard Struff

Quarterfinal picks: Hubert Hurkacz over Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev over Lloyd Harris, Alexander Zverev over Jannik Sinner, and Stefanos Tsitsipas over Pablo Carreno Busta

Semifinals: Rublev over Hurkacz and Tsitsipas over Zverev

Final: Tsitsipas over Rublev

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.