ATP Tour: Masters 1000 Series BNP Paribas Open Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We take a look at the Masters 1000 Series, BNP Paribas Open set to take place in California between 8 and 18 March. 

Roger Federer will be going into this tournament feeling emboldened. Firstly, he is once again the World’s Number One Ranked Player. At 36. But the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal from both Indian Wells and Miami gives him the opportunity to cement that lead ahead of Nadal’s beloved clay court season- depending upon how smoothly that goes. Furthermore, Federer has yet to taste defeat this year after victories in Melbourne and Rotterdam. So he is gunning for a record 6th Indian Wells title this year, but he is not the only one.

Novak Djokovic held a vice-like grip on this title for some time, and the Serbian superstar is also in the running for a 6th tile here- although that may be a little optimistic. Elsewhere, David Goffin and Stan Wawrinka miss out due to injury, while ‘NextGen’ superstars such as Alex Zverev and Denis Shapovalov will be looking to point the direction of the game towards the future this week. The top 32 seeds all receive a bye in the first round.

Past Winners
2017: Roger Federer
2016: Novak Djokovic
2015: Novak Djokovic
2014: Novak Djokovic
2013: Rafael Nadal

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First Quarter- Top Seeded Players- Roger Federer (1), Dominic Thiem (5)

Roger Federer could not have really wished for a better draw at this year’s event. The top half of the draw would likely see him face Harrison and Krajinovic in the first two matches. Potential fourth round opponents are thin on the ground, with Fabio Fognini and Adrian Mannarino the likeliest contenders.  His seeded quarterfinal opponent would be Dominic Thiem, who won’t be entering this event with much confidence.

The clay-court specialist won the Argentina Open, only to go down to Verdasco and Del Potro in consecutive quarterfinals seeded first. His potential first round match against Tsitsipas could actually be quite tricky, not to mention the fact that young Shapovalov Is lurking in his draw. The winner between a likely 3rd round match between Berdych and Chung would be my pick to meet Federer in the quarters. Federer disposed of Chung with ease in Melbourne and has recently exorcised some Berdych demons with solid wins.

Player to Progress: Roger Federer

Second Quarter- Top Seeded Players- Grigor Dimitrov (3), Kevin Anderson (7)

Speaking of players battling with form, Grigor Dimitrov was soundly beaten by Federer in the Rotterdam Final before a humiliating early exit in Dubai at the hands of Malek Jaziri. He has a potentially tricky first round encounter with Fernando Verdasco before potentially going up against young Russian hopeful Andrey Rublev. But I see Bautista-Agut having the confidence to down the Bulgarian in a potential 4th round match.

I have had my doubts over the Spaniard, but was well impressed by his composure in Dubai, where he competently dealt with a resurgent Lucas Pouille in the final. Bautista-Agut will likely run into the red-hot Kevin Anderson in the quarter-final. Anderson lost to Del Potro in the Acapulco final on the back of victory in the New York Open. Anderson’s Flushing Meadows final appearance and Washington Final appearance last season show how strong the South African is on the American hardcourts.

Player to Progress: Kevin Anderson

Third Quarter- Top Seeded Players- Alex Zverev (4), Jack Sock (8)

Alex Zverev was soundly beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro, in what has been a disappointing start to the season that featured an ignominious defeat to Seppi in Rotterdam. One has to remember that he is still extremely young and perhaps felt that ‘Grand Slam’ pressure a bit too soon. He has quite a tricky little draw, with potentially Joao Sousa in the second round, with 2016 finalist Milos Raonic his likely third round opponent.

That could be an opportunity for Raonic to return to the tennis consciousness. Jack Sock has been ignominious of late, losing to Opelka in Delray and Sugita in the first round at Melbourne. He managed to beat Zverev in the ATP World Tour Finals last year, but I doubt he will make it that far this year. A likely quarterfinal would see Lucas Pouille come up against the pugnacious Diego Schwartzmann. Pouille was brilliant in winning Montpeliier, beating Gasquet in the final. He then lost successive finals to Khachanov and Bautista-Agut. He could progress from an open section.

Player to Progress: Lucas Pouille  


Fourth Quarter- Top Seeded Players- Marin Cilic (2), Juan Martin Del Potro (6)

Now this is an intriguing quarter. Del Potro’s rejuvenation of late took a huge step this week with an excellent victory over American hardcourt ace Kevin Anderson in Acapulco. The top half of this quarter looks a dead certain for Del Potro, except for the presence of Novak. Five-time Indian Wells Champion Novak Djokovic looks to get back on track following that defeat to Chung in Melbourne, which prompted another brief hiatus from the game.

Novak’s first match will be against a qualifier, and it looks as if he is destined to face Del Potro in the 4th Round. You have to fancy the in-form Del Potro against a Djokovic returning to action. Marin Cilic lost narrowly to Gael Monfils in Rio in an epic match that could be repeated in this section. I do however think that John Isner- the 2012 finalist here- will likely account for the Frenchman prior to that. So perhaps it will come down to Isner against Cilic in the 4th Round, and I would fancy the Croat in that one.

Player to Progress: Juan Martin Del Potro

Written by Damien Kayat for

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