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BNP Paribas Open tips: Arnya Sabalenka to triumph at Indian Wells Open

Jannik Sinner - our headline pick for Indian Wells - is really cooking

At time of writing he is on a 15-0 winning streak stretching to the back end of 2023, and it does not hurt that the World No. 1 and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic has already checked out of the desert. 

Luca Nardi stunned Djokovic with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday, a result that absolutely nobody saw coming.

Djokovic lost despite being a -5000 money line favourite, and the Serb now must switch his attentions to Miami as Sinner focuses on what would be a third ATP title on the spin. 

Djokovic lost to Sinner in the semis of the Australian Open earlier this year. Ergo, could it be then that the secret to beating Novak in 2024 is:

1 Hit the ball extremely hard
2 Be Italian? 

Who knows. What we do know is that both the men’s and women’s draws at Indian Wells now look fascinating.

In the women’s event, Iga Swiatek seems to have really found her groove.

Swiatek, who was crowned a champion in Doha last month, is bidding to win her second title of the season here and the bookies feel she is now the one to beat given she is odds on across the board.

Swiatek has set up a quarter-final with former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, but her biggest danger remains Arnya Sabalenka.

The conditions at Indian Wells are usually fast through the air, slow off the court. Organisers caught some heat last year from the players, who complained conditions were too slow.

It seems however that they are much quicker in 2024, with the ball bouncing higher too. That should be meat and drink for Sabalenka, who was too good for Emma Raducanu earlier in the week.

Sabalenka has always had power. However, her immense weight of shot and mental toughness in the decisive points these days means she can be unplayable at times.

Sabalenka successfully defended her Australian Open title in January, and is playing with more freedom since breaking her duck in the majors.

She looks in the zone at the unofficial ‘fifth’ tennis major, and given she is seeded two she is in the opposite half of the draw to Swiatek. 

It is likely she will meet Coco Gauff in the last four, and the last time they met on American soil it was Gauff who did the business in a thrilling US Open final.

However, Sabalenka was way too good for Gauff in the semis of the Australian Open in January, and conditions here are not unlike those we saw in Melbourne.  

Gauff turns 20 this week, and yet seems to have been around forever. There has been interest ever since she became the youngest player to reach the main draw at Wimbledon in the Open Era via qualifying (at the age of 15 years and three months).

In her main draw debut, she then upset five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in straight sets and the media were quick to jump on the hype train. 

She has an incredibly well rounded game and is one of the fastest players on the Tour, yet there is a nagging feeling Sabalenka could be the last female standing in the desert when the dust finally settles.

 

Suggested bets:

Arnya Sabalenka to win the BNP Paribas Open

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