My Tennis Life: Ajla Tomljanovic departs for Indian Wells

Advertising

Click here to view the complete men's and women's BNP Paribas Open draws.

Rune, who tested Djokovic way back in the first round of the US Open, could make more new fans in Indian Wells.

Rune, who tested Djokovic way back in the first round of the US Open, could make more new fans in Indian Wells.

Men's Unseeded Sleeper

Joel Drucker—Jan-Lennard Struff: This rangy German personifies the term “dangerous floater.” Never quite ranked enough to be seeded, this could be his week to knock one off.

Matt Fitzgerald—Maxime Cressy: The former UCLA standout showed what he’s capable of producing after qualifying in New York. After getting two matches under his belt, a bigger run just may be in store here.

David Kane—Holger Rune: The Danish teen turned heads at the US Open, hanging tough with Novak Djokovic. Look for the wild card to make a splash in a section that features a flagging Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ed McGrogan—Frances Tiafoe: It's hard to believe that Tiafoe is ranked outside the Top 50; he has Top 10 talent, but not elite-level consistency. But over the course of a single tournament, with his game, the sky's the limit.

Jordaan Sanford—Frances Tiafoe: The American is getting into a hard-court groove, and will be looking to finish his North American swing on a high note. He has a very winnable first and second round at the event. From there, anything is possible.

Cale Hammond—Jenson Brooksby: Until Brooksby is seeded, he will always be the answer to this question.

Advertising

Stephens beat Keys and Gauff at the US Open before falling to Kerber in a tight three-setter.

Stephens beat Keys and Gauff at the US Open before falling to Kerber in a tight three-setter.

Women's Unseeded Sleeper

Joel Drucker—Sloane Stephens: She has been showing signs of regaining the form that for a time made her a major factor. At her best, she has all the tools to continue competing with the very best.

Matt Fitzgerald—Amanda Anisimova: Due to make some noise for herself after showing a high level in a US Open classic that slipped away, the current No. 81 is back at a place where she’s done so before.

Cale Hammond—Marketa Vondrousova: After a rock-solid performance in Chicago with wins over Jil Teichmann, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Danielle Collins, the Czech is a player that nobody should want to face in the early rounds.

David Kane—Sloane Stephens: Unseeded and looming, the 2017 US Open champion has been trending towards a breakthrough all season with some near-misses along the way. Should she get past fellow American Jessica Pegula, she’s in a sweet section.

Ed McGrogan—Shelby Rogers: The American is a proven giant-killer—her latest conquest: world No. 1 Ash Barty, at the US Open—so she can absolutely take out some seeds here. None of them will want to face this hard-hitter.

Jordaan Sanford—Sloane Stephens: At the US Open we saw a glimpse of Stephens’ full potential when she soared past Coco Gauff. If she’s on, few can stop her besides herself—especially on hard courts.

Hurkacz won Miami, normally played directly after Indian Wells, back in April.

Hurkacz won Miami, normally played directly after Indian Wells, back in April.

Advertising

Men's Disappointment

Joel Drucker—Denis Shapovalov: Lively lefty has seemed a little flat lately, searching for a tennis identity that’s functional and sustainable match after match.

Matt Fitzgerald—Alexander Zverev: Carlos Alcaraz was completely outclassed in Acapulco earlier this year. If the two meet again, count on the 18-year-old presenting plenty more questions for the German to answer.

David Kane—Hubert Hurkacz: In the hunt for a delayed Sunshine Double, the Miami Open champ faces a slew of floaters in his section of the draw, with both No. 32 seed Sebastian Korda and fellow American Frances Tiafoe both looming before the fourth round.

Ed McGrogan—Alexander Zverev: The No. 3 seed could face Jenson Brooksby, who tormented Novak Djokovic for a time in New York, in his opener; Carlos Alcaraz or Andy Murray could follow. That's a tough draw.

Jordaan Sanford—Jannik Sinner: Although the Italian just claimed the Sofia Open, he has a long trip over from Bulgaria and jet lag is no joke. The travel alone can set any player off their game, especially this late in the season.

Cale Hammond—Aslan Karatsev: The 19th seed is simply not playing at the same level as he was at the beginning of the year. Expect a third-round loss to Denis Shapovalov for the Russian.

Kvitova has the game to win it all, and to go home early.

Kvitova has the game to win it all, and to go home early.

Women's Disappointment

Joel Drucker—Petra Kvitova: One of the most likeable players in tennis. But she’s suffered many frustrating losses lately, and it’s tough to think her flat-based game will find its best mark in the desert.

Matt Fitzgerald—Belinda Bencic: Her path to a projected quarterfinal includes Rogers (R2), Teichmann (R3), Pavlyuchenkova or Fernandez (R4, where Kanepi and Keys also float as unseeded possibilities). Nothing easy about that.

Cale Hammond—Jessica Pegula: A potential loss to Sloane Stephens in the second round would by no means be a disappointment, but it is a tough draw for the 19th seed, who could also face Elise Mertens in the third round and Elina Svitolina in the fourth.

David Kane—Iga Swiatek: Playing her first Indian Wells main draw, the No. 2 seed is surrounded by dangerous floaters like Petra Martic and Liudmila Samsonova; big hitters Elena Rybakina or Jelena Ostapenko can also keep her from the quarterfinals.

Ed McGrogan—Bianca Andreescu: It's been a long time since Andreescu was crowned the last Indian Wells WTA champion—Emma Raducanu was around No. 600 in the rankings. The Canadian hasn't been consistent in 2021, and has some tricky opponents nearby in the draw.

Jordaan Sanford—Karolina Pliskova: She’s coming off a solid quarterfinal showing at the US Open, but with 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu standing in her way, plus more, it will be a tough path to victory.

Advertising

Ruud is on a roll, having won his fifth title of 2021 just a few days ago.

Ruud is on a roll, having won his fifth title of 2021 just a few days ago.

Men's Champion

Joel Drucker—Daniil Medvedev: Let the good times continue for a man filled with the powerful confidence you only get when you win a Grand Slam singles title.

Matt Fitzgerald—Matteo Berrettini: He’s been consistent all year long (seven quarterfinals or better, plus ATP Cup runner-up). A maiden Masters 1000 crown is hardly out of the question at the end of this fortnight.

David Kane—Casper Ruud: Fresh off his fifth title of 2021, the Norwegian youngster is riding high on confidence, and the slower surface Indian Wells offers ought to make his forehand absolutely lethal.

Ed McGrogan—Matteo Berrettini: He's 38-9 in 2021, have five titles to his name and has become a consistent late-round threat at the Slams. It's time for the Berrettini breakthrough at a Masters, and there's none bigger than Indian Wells.

Jordaan Sanford—Matteo Berrettini: The Italian is coming into tennis paradise hot. He played outstanding tennis at the Laver Cup, outlasting Félix Auger-Aliassime in a battle that went the distance. Not to mention another deep Grand Slam run into the US Open semifinals.

Cale Hammond—Hubert Hurkacz: This pick could age poorly, but Hurkacz’s serve will cause some serious problems on the high bouncing Indian Wells' courts. His combination of unplayable offense and underrated defense could serve him well. He’s playing for the final spot at the ATP Finals in Turin so he’ll be plenty motivated.

Paula Badosa—Indian Wells champion?

Paula Badosa—Indian Wells champion?

Advertising

Women's Champion

Joel Drucker—Iga Swiatek: A year ago, Swiatek found the magic at Roland Garros. The thinking here is that she’ll also find Indian Wells hospitable to her mix of power and spin.

Matt Fitzgerald—Paula Badosa: With the way this season has shaped up and countless contenders in the hunt for Guadalajara, why shouldn’t IW produce another “surprise” champion that has WTA Finals implications?

Cale Hammond—Maria Sakkari: Physical fitness will prove paramount under the hot desert sun, and the sandpaper-esque courts will reward those with big kick-serves and heavy groundstrokes—making the Greek a serious threat to capture her first WTA 1000 trophy.

David Kane—Karolina Pliskova: The former world No. 1 would have gone further at the US Open but for a streaking Maria Sakkari; a two-time semifinalist, Pliskova has been back to her consistent best since Wimbledon.

Ed McGrogan—Karolina Pliskova: Considering Pliskova's history as a favorite, picking the No. 1 seed to win isn't necessarily "chalk." But after a summer that included everything a title, I say she seizes the opportunity and finds a way to push through.

Jordaan Sanford—Elina Svitolina: The last time the Ukrainian was in tennis paradise she reached the last four, falling to eventual champion Andreescu. Why not take it a couple steps further this time around? She has the draw to do it.