The Indian Wells Master is one of the highlights of the ATP tour. The competition takes place from March 8th through to March 18th this year, and – as we now expect – has attracted the world’s best.
This tournament is a favourite for players and fans alike. It has often been voted the best in its category, and boasts an impressive honours board of former winners.
Roger Federer has won this event five times, the same amount as Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal has been victorious thrice. Nadal unfortunately had to pull out of the 2018 edition, however, after an injury in Acapulco.
The absence of the Spaniard means Federer is clear favourite to retain his title at 5/4. His carefully managed schedule has seen the Swiss return to world number one, despite playing in just two tournaments in 2018.
It does help that he won both of those to hold a 12-0 record this calendar year. Federer has lost a grand total of five matches since the start of 2017.
His return to the very top of the sport is astonishing at 36. Federer is an icon of sport as a whole, let alone tennis. The majesty with which he cruises around the court makes him not only the most effective, but the best player to watch in the world.
As was the case with Nadal in Acapulco, I find it very hard to see past Federer if he stays healthy for the entirety of the tournament. He is at a level that no one else can live with on a hard court right now.
Djokovic leads the chasing pack in a very strong field. Injuries have seen the Serbian slump to 13th in the world, and we have only seen him feature in one event in 2018 so far, which ended in a disappointing last 16 exit in the Australian Open.
Djokovic actually has the upper-hand over Federer throughout their careers with a 23-22 record. He is the biggest threat to the world number one, but injury uncertainty means that 6/1 price is on the short side.
There are a pair of players sitting out at 12/1. World number three Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro – who is into the final at Acapulco at the time of writing – are decent value to win the competition.
Cilic took Federer to five sets in the only Grand Slam final of the year, but has suffered two disappointing losses in his other tournaments in Rio de Janeiro and Pune.
Del Potro dispatched Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev in Acapulco. The Argentinian has at least as good a chance as anyone in this draw of stopping Federer, and I would go as far to say that Del Potro is my second favourite.
Of the two, Del Potro is the pick of the 12/1 options.
Looking further down the market, Nick Kyrgios at 20/1 and Lucas Pouille at 66/1 standout. Pouille has made it to the final in Dubai – albeit in a relatively weak field – but has had a pretty mixed year.
Victory in Montpellier has been paired with a first round exits in Rotterdam and Melbourne. I was surprised to see him as long as 66/1.
Kyrgios, meanwhile, is impossible to predict. The talent is certainly there, which we saw as he won in Brisbane, it’s simply a case of consistency and – perhaps – application.
His duels with Gregor Dimitrov show he can live with the best, and I think 20/1 is a decent price as a result.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*