Djokovic can reclaim Indian Wells record

Indian Wells begins next week and the men’s title may end up in the hands of a serial winner, but the women’s Premier Mandatory tournament looks to be wide open.

Djokovic the man to beat

Novak Djokovic was the outright record holder at Indian Wells until Roger Federer joined him on five titles two years ago.

The Serb has struggled with injury issues in the meantime but is now back on top and the world number one should arrive at the Masters 1000 event refreshed as it will be his first competition since claiming the Australian Open title.

Djokovic won three titles in a row between 2014 and 2016 and can set himself up for a big summer with a sixth title in California.  The 31-year-old’s top target this year could well be the French Open, the only major he hasn’t won at least twice, and he is 3.05 to take the top prize in Paris.

Kyrgios could be a threat

Juan Martin del Potro was somewhat of a surprise winner last year as he became the first player outside of the ‘big four’ to win Indian Wells since Ivan Ljubicic way back in 2010.  The Argentine won’t be back to defend his title on doctor’s orders due to a knee problem, and of the rest, Nick Kyrgios could be the man to spring a surprise.

The Australian claimed a win over Rafael Nadal in the Mexico Open in three sets and clearly has the talent to challenge at the biggest events.  Until he shows some consistency there will always be questions over his temperament, but Kyrgios is starting to show signs he can fulfil his potential and looks an outside contender for the first leg of the ‘Sunshine Double’.

Osaka bids to defend title

Naomi Osaka landed the trophy at Indian Wells last year and at the time that was the biggest title of her career so far. Fast forward 12 months and now she’s a two-time Grand Slam winner, and the world number one.

Her preparations for this year’s event haven’t been straightforward however, as she has just linked up with new coach Jermaine Jenkins and she fell in her first match at the Dubai Championship to Kristina Mladenovic – her first ever WTA Premier event as a top seed.

History doesn’t favour Osaka either, for those of a more superstitious persuasion, as no one has managed to defend the WTA title at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova nearly 30 years ago.

Resurgent Bencic offers value

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic has endured a tough few years since hitting the dizzy heights of seventh in the WTA rankings in 2016 but she has been in good form so far this year.

The 21-year-old is close to returning to the world’s top 20 and took the title in Dubai – beating Petra Kvitova in the final and four players ranked in the top 10 in total.

An Indian Wells win would be a new high-point for Bencic, but she could well be a future Grand Slam winner and is 41.00 to win Wimbledon and 67.00 to win the US Open later this year.