Indian Wells 2017 Preview
Mere hours from the time I am writing this post, Indian Wells will kick off for 2017. And it promises to be a telling affair. For the first time since the Australian Open, all of the top players (minus Milos Raonic) are in action in the same event. We’re into month three of 2017 and there seems to be more questions now than at the start of the year! So without further preamble, let’s get into my Indian Wells 2017 preview.
The world number one had a disappointing run in Melbourne, but when you look at his 2017 so far it’s not too shabby. A fourth round exit at a Grand Slam is disappointing for Murray, but it’s far from insignificant. Meanwhile he also reached the final of Qatar and won the title in Dubai. Whether he can dominate like his Big Four peers have done remains to be seen, but he’s certainly making a go of it.
Indian Wells has always been a bit of a bogey tournament for Murray, however. He’s only defending 45 points from last years early exit. Djokovic, on the other hand, is defending the full 1,000, so Murray is almost guaranteed to increase his lead at the top of the rankings this week. The question is, will Murray be satisfied with that?
Indian Wells is one of only two Masters 1000 events Murray has yet to win, with the Masters full house still being something that no-one has achieved in men’s tennis. Not only that, it won’t hurt to make a statement to the rest of the tour. Nobody really thinks Murray doesn’t deserve his place at the top of the game, but there is a sense that he’s not as invincible as, say, Djokovic was during his reigns at the top.
I expect Murray to make a far better showing than his previous efforts, though I’m not sure he will take the title.
Probably the biggest question mark hangs over the head of Nole. One of the most dominant players in the history of the game at the height of his powers, Djokovic has struggled to string together consistently good results since last year’s French Open triumph.
When Djokovic reached the World Tour Finals last year, losing to Murray, and then avenged that loss in the Qatar Open final, it was easy to think things were back on track. But early exits from the Australian Open and Acapulco soon brought those doubts back.
Djokovic seems to be suffering with his game mentally. And, at the 29 years old, the longer his struggle goes on, the more unlikely it seems that we’ll see him dominate again.
Even if the Djoker loses in the first round, he will still be 3,000—4,000 points clear of third place. He may be losing ground on Murray, but he won’t be getting overtaken any time soon. The question is, does Djokovic care anymore?
The King of Clay was, of course, one half of one the most historic Australian Open finals in history. Since then Nadal has had to pull out of Rotterdam on his doctor’s advice. He did go on to reach the Acapulco final where he lost to an on fire Sam Querrey.
While Rafa doesn’t seem to be quite the unstoppable force he once was, he is most certainly dangerous. For me, the main question surrounding Nadal is regarding how much he’ll want to focus on these hard court tournaments. Few people would write Nadal enough on clay, and with his body ageing and injuries becoming more frequent, Nadal may well choose to put all his eggs in the clay court basket.
Federer, of course, won the aforementioned historic Australian Open final. At 35 years old, it was a remarkable achievement even for the remarkable Swiss. Since then he’s had one outing in Dubai, where he crashed out early against Evgeny Donskoy. Federer admitted afterwards that did not know of Donskoy before the match.
The chances are, Federer is going to start being very judicious with his schedule. Much in the same way Serena Williams is. As with Nadal, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Federer saving himself for the big events. The question is, will he consider Indian Wells a big event?
Personally I think he will, and I think he’ll have a good run… but I doubt he’ll win.
We’ve had a number of impressive title winners so far. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled off back to back titles in Rotterdam and Marseilles. Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock have also notched up two titles to their name so far this year, while Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev are a couple of other notable dangerous names already on the board this year.
Short of another Australian Open-esque tournament, the chances are we won’t see a surprise result here. The top players are usually on their game for the Masters events, and if we don’t see a Big Four winner, we’ll likely see a top ten player take the crown.
On past performances alone, Andy Murray seems unlikely. Djokovic is anybody’s guess, and Nadal Federer may no longer have it in them to go all out over and over. Everyone is waiting for the tour to make a statement to the Big Four, perhaps Indian Wells will be it…
That’s it for our Indian Wells 2017 preview, check back for updates on the tournament itself.