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Indian Wells BNP | WTA women’s draw: Badosa, Kontaveit, Osaka, Stephens all in third section

Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova tops the Indian Wells women’s draw. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

By Ricky Dimon

With Ashleigh Barty out, Naomi Osaka just barely inside the top 80, and Serena Williams still inactive, it is none other than Barbora Krejcikova who is the No. 1 seed at the BNP Paribas Open.

Thanks in part to a runner-up performance at the 2021 French Open, Krejcikova has soared to No. 2 in the world behind only Barty. With the top seed comes a relatively favorable draw in which the top half of the bracket has to be considered the easier of the two sides.

That’s not to say that Krejcikova will have a cakewalk in the desert. She could go up against an in-form Sorana Cirstea in the third round, while Simona Halep and Coco Gauff are potential fourth-round opponents. The other top eight seed in Krejcikova’s quarter is Karolina Pliskova, who has not yet taken the court this season. Pliskova, who is returning from a hand injury, has played in only one tournament since last year’s Indian Wells event–which was postponed from March to October because of Covid-19 issues.

Iga Swiatek and Garbine Muguruza are the other top eight seeds in the top half of the bracket. Swiatek recently advanced to the Australian Open semifinals, while Muguruza won the 2021 WTA Finals. Muguruza could face former U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys in the last 32. Another intriguing third-round showdown if the seeds hold to form would pit Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina against reigning Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.

Paula Badosa is reigning Indian Wells champion. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT
But it is the third section of the draw that is especially loaded. That’s where you can find Osaka, Paula Badosa, Anett Kontaveit, Jelena Ostapenko, Jessica Pegula, Leylah Fernandez, Veronika Kudermetova, Marketa Vondrousova, Sloane Stephens, Amanda Anisimova, and Shelby Rogers. Osaka and Stephens will go head-to-head in a first-round battle between Grand Slam champions. Badosa, Kontaveit, and Ostapenko have been three of the hottest players on the WTA Tour, and Badosa is the defending Indian Wells champion (beat Victoria Azarenka 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(2) in the final).

Azarenka rounds out of the field of 96 at the bottom of the bracket along with Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari, and Petra Kvitova.

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