HIGHLIGHTS: Medvedev wins his third title in three weeks in Dubai

The BNP Paribas Open marks the start of tennis’s peak season. From now through the end of the US Open, everything counts. There are three Grand Slams and seven Masters 1000s during that period. Indian Wells is the first, and it can set the tone for everything that comes after. While Carlos Alcaraz didn’t win the tournament last year, that was only because Rafael Nadal was a little bit better at handling the wind during their semifinal in the desert. Despite the defeat, everyone could see that Alcaraz was heading toward No. 1, sooner rather than later. That’s where he finished 2022, and he returns to Indian Wells as the top seed in 2023. We’ll see if anyone can set a new tone for the rest of this season.

Click here for the draw.


First Quarter

Alcaraz had to pull out of the Australian Open with a leg injury, and he had to pull out his most recent event, in Acapulco, for the same reason. Hopefully he’s healed and ready, because with the loss of Nadal (hip), Novak Djokovic (U.S. vaccine regulations) and Nick Kyrgios (knee), Indian Wells can use a jolt of the Spanish teen’s star power and youthful brio. I don’t think any tennis fan wants to see Alcaraz’s sophomore season become an injury-plagued one, so soon after his meteoric ascent. This week, he’ll start against either Brandon Holt or a qualifier. The next-highest seeds in his quarter are Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz, Pablo Carreño Busta and Tommy Paul.

First-round match to watch: Andy Murray vs. 61st-ranked Tomas Martin Etcheverry

Semifinalist: Alcaraz

Alcaraz is the first man other than Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray to earn $10 million or more in a single ATP season.

Alcaraz is the first man other than Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray to earn $10 million or more in a single ATP season.


Second Quarter

This is a big event for 2022 champion Taylor Fritz. He’s defending 1000 ranking points, and after early losses at the last two Slams, in New York and Melbourne, he could use a good result at a premier event on his favorite surface. There was a sense that Fritz had arrived when he won here last year. What would the sense be if he went out in an early round this year? He faces a potentially interesting opener against either fellow American Ben Shelton or Fabio Fognini. Three of the other seeds in this section—Alex de Minaur, Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner—have recently won titles, and seem ready to challenge for another.

One-handed backhands to watch: Richard Gasquet, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Musetti. Four of the best in the business are gathered in this quarter.

First-round matches to watch: Shelton vs. Fognini; J.J. Wolf vs. Marton Fucsovics

Semifinalist: Sinner

Pucker Up: Daniil Medvedev has won three tournaments over the past three weeks.

Pucker Up: Daniil Medvedev has won three tournaments over the past three weeks.


Third Quarter

Daniil Medvedev has won 18 titles, 17 of them on hard courts. So you might think the 27-year-old would have had his share of success at Indian Wells. But he has never made a final here. If that’s ever going to change, the time would seem to be now. Medvedev is red hot at the moment, having won three straight tournaments. History says that when he gets on a roll, he can keep riding for a while. With Alcaraz potentially banged up, and Nadal and Djokovic absent, Medvedev is probably the favorite for the title.

Still, as Medvedev said himself this weekend, “streaks end.” The question is, does anyone here have the game to end his? He’ll start against either Brandon Nakashima or John Isner; Medvedev handled the latter with ease in their two previous meetings. As far as seeds go, the others in this section include Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov.

Wild card to watch: Yibing Wu. The Dallas champ returns to face Jaume Munar in the first round

Semifinalist: Medvedev

Match Point Predictor Miami: The numbers don't lie

Match Point Predictor Miami: The numbers don't lie

Think you know what'll happen? Tell us, and you could win big.


Fourth Quarter

Stefanos Tsitsipas came roaring out of the gate in 2023 with 10 straight wins and a run to the Australian Open final. A month later, though, his status is in doubt. He picked up a shoulder injury along the way, and has played just two tour matches—a win and a loss in Rotterdam—over the past month. Like his rival Medvedev, Tsitsipas also has yet to reach a final in Indian Wells or Miami.

If Tsitsipas isn’t ready, there are others here who can pick up the baton. Andrey Rublev is coming off a runner-up finish in Dubai. Cam Norrie just beat Alcaraz in Rio. Frances Tiafoe is due for a big result here or in Miami. Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov have seen their rankings drop, but remain dangerous. Maxime Cressy and Marcos Giron are former UCLA standouts who will have strong local backing.

Returning: Gael Monfils. The 36-year-old starts against Jordan Thompson, and could play Tsitsipas in the second round.

Potential second-round match to watch: Rublev vs. Jiri Lehecka

Semifinalist: Tiafoe

Semifinals: Sinner d. Alcaraz; Medvedev d. Tiafoe

Final: Medvedev d. Sinner