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Ricky’s preview and picks for the BNP Paribas Open: Will Nadal win title No. 4 in the desert?

Rafael Nadal plays for his fourth title of 2022 in Indian Wells. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal is already bidding for a fourth title in 2022 and a win this fortnight would also give him four career titles at the BNP Paribas Open. With Novak Djokovic once again on the sidelines, the 2007, 2009, and 2013 champion has to be considered the favorite in the desert. He is 15-0 this season–lifting the trophy at a Melbourne 250, the Australian Open, and in Acapulco–and Indian Wells conditions are favorable enough for his game.

That’s not to say it will be easy, of course. Nadal will open against either Sebastian Korda or Thanasi Kokkinakis before possibly meeting Denis Shapovalov in the fourth round, Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals, and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the semis. The 35-year-old Spaniard went to five sets with both Medvedev and Shapovalov at the Aussie Open.

On the other side of the draw, Djokovic’s exit obviously opens the door. Grigor Dimitrov slid into the Serb’s spot at the bottom of the bracket as the No. 33 seed, but that does little to balance anything. Instead, a big opportunity is still very much there for the likes of Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, and Andy Murray.

Especially in Murray’s case, this could be just what the doctor ordered. The 34-year-old Scot has suffered a string of second-round losses in recent months, but his Indian Wells draw is suddenly a great one. Although not in outstanding form, Murray is playing well enough to capitalize.


As for Rublev, he is the hottest player on tour outside of Nadal. The world No. 7 is 14-2 this year and coming off back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai. Now that Djokovic is out, Rublev and Zverev are clearly the two favorites on their side of the bracket.

Zverev, however, has endured some struggles on and off the court and his section includes some confident players such as Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz, Marin Cilic, and Tommy Paul. Fritz is a California native who made a run to the Indian Wells semis last fall. It would not be any surprise if Fritz goes at least that far five months later.

Quarterfinal predictions: Daniil Medvedev over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rafael Nadal over Jannik Sinner, Taylor Fritz over Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Andrey Rublev over Andy Murray

Semifinals: Nadal over Medvedev and Rublev over Fritz

Final: Nadal over Rublev

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