The first Masters 1000 event of the 2013 season is upon us and for the first time since last summer Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are all competing in the same tournament.
The BNP Paribas Open 2013 has a $5 million prize fund this year and Federer returns to defend the title he won in 2012 by beating John Isner as a [6.5] shot to win a fifth Indian Wells crown.
Djokovic is unbeaten in competitive play so far in 2013 and he heads the betting at around [2.25] to land a third Indian Wells title after wins here in 2008 and 2011 - last year he was beaten by Isner in the semi finals.
And the draw has handed Federer a decent chance to defend the title and his ranking points after Djokovic, Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were all drawn together in the top half.
The bottom half sees Nadal, who is playing his first match on a hard court since Miami almost a year ago, drawn to meet Federer in the quarter finals and Tomas Berdych is set to meet David Ferrer in the other last eight clash.
Despite Nadal's return to form on the red dirt of South America and in particular his mauling of Ferrer in the Acapulco final it's tough to see him making a seamless switch to hard courts and beating the world's best, so his quote of around [10.0] looks very short.
I'm not sure that I really fancy backing Federer at around [6.5] though, despite his good draw, as he hasn't won a title since Cincinnati last year and he seems to have lost a bit of match toughness these days in tight situations, as was highlighted again when he blew match points against Berdych in Dubai.
His loss to Julien Benneteau in Rotterdam was pretty awful and he never looked like beating Murray at any stage of their Australian Open semi final after struggling past Tsonga in five sets the round before.
The Swiss may well get an early chance to put things right against Benneteau, as he will probably face the Frenchman again in round three here and Stan Wawrinka apart his quarter looks comfortable with Isner showing nothing at all of late.
Isner really does need to up his game this week, with big ranking points at stake and he does normally perform better in the USA than elsewhere, but he hasn't beaten anyone of note since Winston Salem last autumn and it's hard to recommend him even at [100.0].
Wawrinka looks a better bet, but unless Federer loses early it's tough to see the Swiss number two beating the number one having lost 14 of their 15 previous matches.
Ferrer's quarter looks pretty comfortable for the Spaniard on paper, but his record here is poor and his confidence will surely have been knocked by the beating that Nadal gave him in Acapulco.
Kevin Anderson will present a tough opener for Ferrer and Federer's presence in that half of the draw puts me off backing Ferrer at around [34.0] and I prefer backing Gilles Simon in that section on a back-to-lay basis at a huge [251.0].
The Frenchman reached the last eight here last year and in a weak quarter he could go far as he's been in decent form lately having taken down Del Potro in Marseille last time out.
Berdych's quarter also looks pretty comfortable for the in-form Czech and at [23.0] he looks the best value for the outright win having beaten Federer three straight times on outdoor hard now.
The Berdman doesn't have a great record here, but neither did Isner until 12 months ago and for me his draw gives him an outstanding chance of reaching the final. He'd have to rely on someone else taking down Djokovic, but he should prove a good investment at the price.
As for Djokovic et al, the Serb has a good-looking quarter and only Tsonga looks to have any chance against him in that section, but Murray always has a shot against Nole and that will probably be the semi final in the top half.
The Scot has a poor record here though and Del Potro may have a say in the outcome if he's over the wrist problem he had in Dubai last week.
But the bottom half of the draw looks the place to sniff out the value and Berdych and Simon stand out to me.comments powered by Disqus