10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s preview and picks for the 2023 Indian Wells Masters

The February grind has come to an end and now the Sunshine Double is upon us, marking the unofficial start of spring. Back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments begin this week with the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells before the Miami Open takes center stage.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will not be taking their talents to the desert, but Carlos Alcaraz is in the draw despite a leg injury. Alcaraz is joined in the field by Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev, and Andy Murray.

Here is my preview and picks.

BNP Paribas Open

Where: Palm Springs, California
Prize money: $8,800,000 
Top seed: Carlos Alcaraz
Defending champion: Taylor Fritz

Medvedev has won three tournaments in three weeks and there is no reason why he can’t make it four in a row. Keep in mind that the former world No. 1 reached six finals in a row back in 2019, winning three of them (including two Masters 1000s in Cincinnati and Shanghai). When Medvedev is hot, he can really be on fire. The 27-year-old Russian has a favorable draw, too, with Ruud the top-four seed in his quarter and Alcaraz in the other half.

Tsitsipas is the highest seed on Medvedev’s side of the bracket, but that quarter could be wide open since the Greek is once again dealing with a shoulder issue. Rublev also isn’t in great form, so the door appears to be open for Cameron Norrie to make another run in the desert. Norrie won the title in 2021 and reached the quarterfinals last year. Matteo Berrettini is a potential third-round opponent for the left-handed Brit, but–like many players in this field–the Italian has been struggling physically.

At the top of the draw Alcaraz finds himself in a soft section, but his fate comes down to his leg injury. The second-ranked Spaniard missed the Australian Open and was less than 100 percent during a loss to Norrie in the Rio de Janiero title match. If Alcaraz isn’t in peak condition, there is an opportunity for Tommy Paul to reach the semis and for Fritz to make a return trip to the final. Fritz beat Nadal in the 2022 Indian Wells title match.

Among the first-round matchups to watch are Murray vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Ben Shelton vs. Fabio Fognini, J.J. Wolf vs. Marton Fucsovics, Adrian Mannarino vs. Dominic Thiem, John Isner vs. Brandon Nakashima, and Gael Monfils vs. Jordan Thompson. Monfils, who used a protected ranking to get into the tournament, has not played since the Montreal Masters last summer.

Quarterfinal picks: Tommy Paul over Andy Murray, Taylor Fritz over Holger Rune, Daniil Medvedev over Yibing Wu, and Cameron Norrie over Frances Tiafoe

Semifinals: Fritz over Paul and Medvedev over Norrie

Final: Medvedev over Fritz

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.