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Five Key Takeaways From The Indian Wells Draw Release
3 Min Read · March 4, 2024

Monday marked draw day at the BNP Paribas Open as top players now know their path to the Indian Wells title.

Here are five takeaways from the men’s and women’s main draw unveilings.

1. Djokovic back in the quarterfinals?

Given all that he has accomplished, it might come as a surprise that Novak Djokovic hasn’t made the quarterfinals in Indian Wells since bagging his fifth title in 2016.

Djokovic, mind you, hasn’t played in Indian Wells since a third-round loss to the now retired Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2019. The first seed the 24-time Grand Slam winner could face is Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the Argentine who idolized him. Etcheverry retired with a leg injury in Buenos Aires about three weeks ago and hasn’t played since. 

Djokovic’s record against seeds in his quarter — 26-1, losing only to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina — suggests that exceeding the final eight is a strong possibility this edition for the World No. 1.


2. Rafa’s early test

‘PR,’ otherwise known as protected ranking, fills three consecutive lines in the second quarter of the ATP draw.

One of those using a protected ranking is Rafael Nadal, who has thrived in the somewhat unique conditions of Indian Wells — thin air and a slower court surface.  In 15 previous appearances, the Spaniard has made the semifinals or better 11 times — including on his last visit in 2022.

Back from his latest injury setback, Nadal begins against 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic. The Canadian is also using a protected ranking, having been troubled by Achilles and toe injuries. Although Raonic trails Nadal 8-2 in their head-to-heads, he outlasted the left-hander in Indian Wells in 2015 in a dramatic three-set match. The next year, Raonic landed in the 2016 final.

Holger Rune, the seventh seed, awaits the victor, with Raonic’s countryman, Denis Shapovalov, lurking in this quarter of the draw as well.

3. Deja vu for Iga

Iga Swiatek might have felt she was back at the Australian Open for a second when she saw her draw released.

In Melbourne, the top-ranked Swiatek beat fellow Grand Slam winner Sofia Kenin in the first round and Grand Slam finalist Danielle Collins in the second in what was a jaw dropper of a draw. Linda Noskova ousted Swiatek in round three.

In Indian Wells after a bye, Swiatek could meet Collins in the second round and Noskova in the third. Collins intends to retire at the end of the season — six years after her breakthrough Sunshine Double that began with a fourth-round performance in Indian Wells. Ons Jabeur faces a potential rematch, too, with Mirra Andreeva if the latter overcomes wild card Katie Volynets.

 In Melbourne, Andreeva needed 56 minutes to sweep past Jabeur, who is dealing with a lingering knee injury. Speaking of rematches, Swiatek and defending champion Elena Rybakina will meet in the semifinals for the second straight season if the seedings hold — and they just played in the Doha final last month.

Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka, who split meetings at the US Open and Australian Open, comprise the top seeds in the bottom half.

4. Venus returns

Back from a knee injury and given some advice from younger sister Serena, Venus Williams is back on tour. It has been a while.

The seven-time Grand Slam winner last played at the US Open in August, revealing in late January she needed a cortisone shot to play in New York. The now 43-year-old wild card starts with a qualifier before a possible matchup with No. 17 seed Veronika Kudermetova. Kudermetova happens to be the last player Williams beat on tour, in August in Cincinnati. Bigger picture, Williams’ previous appearance in Indian Wells came in 2019 when she downed world No. 3 Petra Kvitova as part of a quarterfinal showing.

Venus Williams practices as she prepares to make her first trip to the desert since 2019.

5. Murray’s farewell?

 Another of tennis’ Grand Slam champs, Andy Murray, said last week that he only potentially had a few months left in his career. If that’s true, then Indian Wells 2024 marks the last appearance in the desert for the three-time major winner.

Murray starts against a qualifier, and if he clears the first hurdle, tangles with fifth-seed Andrey Rublev. The 36-year-old, who underwent hip resurfacing surgery years ago to prolong his career, seeks his first back-to-back wins at a tournament since August.

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