Djokovic absence means many contenders
Slow conditions expected
Nicknamed as the unofficial 'fifth major', Indian Wells always attracts a superb calibre of entrants and, despite the absence of Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, this year is no different.
The duo's absence, however, creates a fascinating dynamic with three players in single digit pricing and over a dozen contenders in with a chance of making the latter stages.
Conditions in California are likely to be very slow for hard courts. Historical data suggests that there's a clear trend towards low service points won percentages, low aces per game figures and low tiebreaks per set - all clear indicators of slow conditions.
In the past we've seen a number of clay-courters pick up surprise results in the early rounds with the slow courts favouring their games. As the tournament progresses that may well be a theme we continue to discuss on the daily previews.
Medvedev uneasy pre-event favourite
This dynamic is unlikely to suit tournament favourite Daniil Medvedev, who despite being 14 unbeaten and winning his last three tournaments, looks a fairly uneasy favourite at 3.412/5. On a quicker hard court I'd have him quite a bit shorter than the current market price against this field.
Medvedev has nothing in terms of a record at this venue. He does have, however, a relatively kind quarter with the main threats being Alexander Zverev 38.037/1, who still looks a fair way short of his previous best after long-term injury, and Casper Ruud 44.043/1, whose surface numbers aren't the best but should enjoy the conditions more than the usual hard court.
At a slightly bigger price, and despite a tough year so far, I'd lean towards Ruud over Zverev if looking to oppose Medvedev in his quarter.
Dangerous to write off Alcaraz
Following Medvedev in the draw is Carlos Alcaraz, with the Spaniard 7.613/2 as he plays his first hard court main tour event since retiring in the Paris Masters indoors at the start of November.
He has made his injury return on his preferred clay courts throughout February, with a title in Buenos Aires and runners-up spot in Rio de Janeiro, facing Cameron Norrie 38.037/1 in both finals.
Alcaraz's performances in Rio didn't particularly inspire, but it would be very dangerous to write him off here. The conditions should be just to his liking and we cannot forget how devastating his progress was last season when he rocketed up to world number one before his injury.
He will need to get past the likes of Tommy Paul and Felix Auger-Aliassime in that opening quarter.
Norrie can progress in Tsitsipas quarter
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the remaining player in single-digit pricing at 9.617/2, slightly drifting from early market prices. This isn't a huge surprise.
Numbers-wise, Tsitsipas has a bit to find over some others, and he also faces a tough bottom quarter. Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev, Frances Tiafoe and Cameron Norrie are among the plethora of threats in the bracket.
Given Norrie's strong recent form including that Alcaraz victory in Rio en route to the title, and his acclimatisation to slower conditions in similar time zones, the British player could be a decent shout to get out of this quarter.
He should be in a better position than some who have been playing indoors in Europe or outdoors in the UAE and flew in from a much different time zone in recent days.
The other main contender is Jannik Sinner, with the Italian the favourite to get through quarter two but facing tough competition from Holger Rune, Alex De Minaur and Taylor Fritz.
Sinner's price at 11.521/2 will be justified if he's fully recovered from the illness which saw him withdraw from ATP Marseille last week, but let's see how he fares in the early rounds.