After a couple of months in the Eastern Hemisphere, the tennis tour has moved to Central and South America with tournaments in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil (2). It’s now time to head to North America for the first Master 1000 tournament of the year in Indian Wells (California, USA).
This combined (ATP plus WTA) tournament is massive! And I’m not only talking about the number of players involved (128 men and 128 women) which pretty much resembles the draw of a grand slam tournament, but also the total financial commitment is 9 million us dollars (compared to, for example, 18 million dollars commitment in the Australia Open).
The schedule of this tournament is very busy, as it lasts 10 days compared to two whole weeks for grand slams, so it could also happen that in specific cases, players won’t be able to have a full day with no match.
The Venue: Indian Wells Tennis Garden (USA, California)
Located in the Palm Desert, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is a 2-hour drive from both Los Angeles and San Diego, in the south of California. This facility is hosting, from the 8th till the 18th of March 2018 the BNP Paribas Open 2018. A combined event which brings over the best tennis players in the world.
The main court is placed inside a massive stadium, and, according to Wikipedia, this is the 3rd biggest tennis stadium in the world as the Indian Wells tennis stadium capacity is 16.102 people!
The playing surface is Outdoor Hard. This basically means that they will play on concrete and outdoor. I have recently watched an interview where Roger Federer was talking about the “speed” of the surface and coming from a win in the Australian Open he made the comparison and anticipated that he is expecting a slower surface here in California.
This actually makes sense but we need to keep in mind that these will be still fast courts, but not as fast as Australia according to the number one ranked player in the world.
ATP – Who’s hot and who’s not
The 2018 season has been on for two months now and we surely have enough information to start judging each player’s form, let’s break it down and see who are the favorites in the men’s draw and which outsiders can be dangerous and score upsets.
Who is hot
Roger Federer, currently priced at 2.25 (+125) to win the tournament and world number one has to be considered the favorite. Despite the fact that he just said that he is expecting a slower surface (compared to previous tournaments), he is everyone’s number one pick here. He comes from a successful Rotterdam campaign where he not only won the title, but he did that in style only dropping one set to Robin Haase in the whole tournament and demolished Grigor Dimitrov in the Final 6-2 6-2.
With a price of 11, my second favorite is Juan Martin Del Potro, fresh winner in Acapulco. Despite the fact that he now only plays a sliced backhand, his serve and, especially, forehand are still devastating. He can leave anyone stuck with the power of his forehand! We will need to know wether winning the title last week was too tiring or not, but if he manages to recover, he is one to watch out for.
Roberto Bautista Agut (priced at 67) and Fabio Fognini (126 his odds) both won their respective tournament last week, but, while the Italian Fognini, is not really a hard court master, Bautista Agut is better on fast surfaces. Still I think that he lacks the power to win here, but of course, he is tough to beat!
Karen Khachanov (67) and Frances Tiafoe (251) recently won tournaments as well, but again, I don’t think they have real chances.
In the bottom part of the top half of the draw, we have a bunch of players who could set up a clash with Roger Federer in semi finals: Kevin Anderson (34), Nick Kyrgios (26) and Grigor Dimitrov (17) are all dangerous and in form. Most likely, one of them will play Federer in the semifinals and Kyrgios and Dimitrov have a chance even against the Swii master. Marin Cilic, priced at 17, could go the distance and meet Del Potro in a quarter final match in the bottom part of the draw.
Who is not
As I am writing this article I realize that many players in the ATP tour are far from their best: Novak Djokovic (priced at 7), Alexander Zverev (17), Milos Raonic (34), Kei Nishikori (41) with Nadal and Murray not even in the draw because of injury.
I don’t think these guys have a chance this week in California and especially Alexander Zverev and Milos Raonic have been disappointing so far this season. The German had an incredible year last year but is struggling with keeping up with expectations in 2018, while the Canadian is far from his best and I am not really sure what his problem his. He is probably still trying to recover from his season ending injury last year and it is taking longer than expected; but one thing is sure, Raonic is one of those guys who need to be in top form to be competitive as his tennis style is pretty expensive in terms of energy. Novak Djokovic is a big enigma as no one really knows his physical condition after a heavy injury last year.
WTA – Who’s hot and who’s not
As usual the situation is much more different in the WTA, where we have at least 5 possible winners.
Who is hot
Five girls are currently priced below 12 to win it all: Elina Svitolina (9), Caroline Wozniacki (10), Simon Halep (10), Angelique Kerber (11) and Petra Kvitova (11). These all have a clear chance here and it is difficult to just pick one. Wozniacki won in Australia, Halep and Kerber are great fighters and extremely hard to beat. Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova are probably in the best form of their careers as Svitolina recently won in Dubai and Kvitova looked physically at her best, both skinnier than usual and much better defensively than she used to be.
To these, we still have to add some pretty big names: Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova can always be dangerous as their shots are really powerful.
Two possible outsiders that I like are Daria Kasatkina (one of the best from the baseline if you ask me, but still not very consistent) and Madison Keys, who is currently priced at 29 and has some real power in both her forehand and backhand.
Who is not
The list is long here. Probably the best disappointment so far this season is Johanna Konta. She has the tennis to be very good, but she is probably simply not strong enough mentally to keep her level up for longer. Serena Williams (odds fixed at 13) comes back after giving birth to her first child and it will be interested to see her real form, we can’t really predict much about her, but she hasn’t played for a year or so, so we can presume she is not at her best. I don’t think Maria Sharapova has any chance this week and same applies to Jelena Ostapenko, which struggles when she needs to play well for a week or more. God knows what happened to Sloane Stephens after winning the US Open and other players like Radwanska and Bencic seem very far from their best.
First Round Matches
Our experts have already put some first round matches picks on site and more will come. If you read this article carefully you probably have noticed that we already have some clear ideas on players that are not in top form and we will keep those monitored to see if betting against them could be a clever move.
For now, head on to www.betzcenter.com to stay updated on the latest picks from our experts! Picks for Indian Wells Tennis Open 2018 are released daily and with at least a margin of three hours before the match starts!
Outright bets that we like
With the ABN Paribas Open 2018 starting in a few hours, I want to conclude with a couple of outright bets that I like. Keep in mind that outright bets in tennis are way more dangerous than outright bets in other sport as one bad day for the selected player could mean the instant loss of our bet (which in most cases does not happen in other sports), but I still like those and I think that we can still make money in the long run if we are careful.
Here is what I like:
- Simona Halep to win first quarter, priced at 3.00
- Petra Kvitova to win second quarter, priced at 4.50
- Daria Kasatkina to win fourth quarter, priced at 11.00