Ahead of the start of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, we take a look at ten players to watch out for at the first Masters 1000 tournament of the season.
BNP Paribas Open is live from Indian Wells from 11-22 March 2020
Indian Wells 2020 tournament information
Name: BNP Paribas Open, also known as the Indian Wells Masters
Location: Indian Wells, California, USA
Venue: Indian Wells Tennis Garden
Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series/WTA Premier Mandatory
Surface: Outdoor hard courts
Draw size: 96 singles/32 doubles
Indian Wells players to watch
World No. 1, Novak Djokovic takes a perfect 18-0 record for the season into Indian Wells, where he will attempt to claim a record-breaking sixth title. The Serbian currently shares a tournament record five titles with Roger Federer, but with the Swiss sidelined for this year’s event, the world No. 1 has got the chance to claim sole ownership of the Indian Wells record.
Djokovic won three successive Indian Wells titles between 2014 and 2016, but the great man has fallen short of his stratospheric standards at the venue in recent times, exiting before the quarter finals in each of the last three seasons, managing a very ordinary 3-3 win-loss record in California in the process.
He will be keen to reassert himself on the tournament this year, and given the way he has started 2020, leading Serbia to ATP Cup glory, and adding titles at the Australian Open and Dubai, you wouldn’t bet against the great man reclaiming his Indian Wells title in 2020.
Rafael Nadal is bidding for his fourth title at Indian Wells, and his first at the venue since 2013. The Spaniard has failed to reach the final since his 2013 triumph, with his best efforts being semi-finals in 2016 and 2019. He pulled out of his scheduled semi-final with Roger Federer last season due to a knee injury.
Nadal hasn’t always been at his best this season, losing to David Goffin and Novak Djokovic at the ATP Cup, and falling to Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals of the Australian Open, but he secured a confidence-boosting title in his most recent event in Acapulco, moving through the draw without dropping a set. If he stays fit at Indian Wells, the world No. 2 is of course very capable of going all the way.
Defending champion, Dominic Thiem will look to enhance his growing reputation on hard courts when he joins a star-studded field in California for the first Masters 1000 tournament of the year. Previously seen as a clay-court expert, Thiem has expanded his game dramatically over the last year, and has become a genuine threat on quicker surfaces.
His Indian Wells success in 2019 came as a surprise, but he proved it was no fluke with subsequent hard court titles in Beijing and Vienna, as well as a fine runner-up finish at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, where he defeated both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Thiem has continued his hard court revolution in 2020, powering to the Australian Open final- his first major final away from clay- and will have his sights set on more glory at Indian Wells in March.
Daniil Medvedev hasn’t quite found the form that propelled him to four titles and five other finals in 2019, but the Russian remains one of the very best players currently on tour, and definitely features among the top contenders for the title on the hard courts of Indian Wells.
Medvedev famously made six consecutive finals between August and October last year, winning his first Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, but he is yet to make a tour semi-final this year.
He did help Russia to the semi-finals of the ATP Cup, but he has not been able to get that far in the individual tournaments, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open, falling to Vasek Pospisil in the opening round in Rotterdam, and losing heavily to Gilles Simon in their last eight tie in Marseille. Medvedev’s Indian Wells record is not great- he’s not been past the third round in three attempts- is this the year when he makes his move in the desert?
After a sluggish start to the year, Stefanos Tsitsipas is beginning to motor, claiming the Marseille title for the second straight year, and reaching the Dubai final, also for the second consecutive season (lost to Novak Djokovic).
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion needs to get a move on at Indian Wells, where he’s won just one match in his two appearances. He was beaten by Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round last season, and will be after a much better performance in the coming weeks.
It’s been a see-saw start to the season for Alexander Zverev, who made his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open but has struggled either side of Melbourne. In truth, the sample space isn’t the biggest, as Zverev hasn’t played too many tournaments in 2020.
The German lost all three singles matches in a forgettable ATP Cup campaign, and fell to Tommy Paul in the second round in Acapulco in his only other event this year. The 22-year-old is competing in the Indian Wells main draw for the fifth straight season, and will attempt to go beyond the fourth round for the first time.
Gael Monfils brings great form to Indian Wells, as he aims to finally claim a maiden Masters 1000 title. Monfils has made three Masters 1000 finals, two in Paris and the other in Monte Carlo, but he has not managed to go all the way in any of these prestigious events.
He has made the quarter-finals at Indian Wells in two of the last four seasons- can he go further in 2020? His current form suggests that he can. Monfils already has two titles this season, from Montpellier and Rotterdam, and made a semi-final in Dubai, where he really should have beaten Novak Djokovic, after holding three consecutive match points in the second set tie break.
The Frenchman is worth keeping both eyes on in California!
Nick Kyrgios always finds himself on these lists simply because you just do not know what exactly to expect from the mercurial Australian. He is capable of blasting his way into the deep end of the draw, just as easily as he can collapse into a first round exit.
Kyrgios had an encouraging Australian summer, impressing as Australia reached the ATP Cup semi-finals, and making the fourth round of the Australian Open, but he has struggled with injuries since then, pulling out of New York and Delray Beach, and retiring from his Acapulco opener because of a wrist injury.
The 24-year-old moved back into the top-20 after the Australian summer, but he has slipped outside the top-30 following his recent inactivity. Kyrgios reached the quarter finals at Indian Wells in 2017, but he has not gone beyond the second round in his other appearances. Expect the unexpected…
Felix Auger-Aliassime has been banging furiously on the door of a maiden tour-level title, but the young Canadian has so far been unable to beat the door down.
The 19-year-old has lost finals in Rotterdam and Marseille this season, taking his numbers in finals to 0-5, having also fallen at the last hurdles in Rio, Munich and Stuttgart last season.
Wouldn’t it be some story if the young gun claimed his maiden title at Indian Wells? It’s not likely, but also not impossible. He showed he can compete at this level when he reached the semi-finals in Miami last year.
After a storming start to the season, Andrey Rublev has cooled off slightly in recent weeks, but the Russian remains one of the men-in-form, and certainly one to watch at Indian Wells.
Rublev opened his season with back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide, but his perfect record has since been soiled, as he could only go as far as the quarter finals of the Australian Open, and reach quarter finals in Rotterdam and Dubai. His best at Indian Wells was a third round last year- if he gets a favourable draw, he can do some serious damage in this year’s tournament.
BNP Paribas Open is live from Indian Wells from 11-22 March 2020