Novak Djokovic looked unstoppable at the Australian Open and he heads into Indian Wells as the hands down favourite for the title. With GIG predictions giving him a 1 and 2 chance to win the whole thing, the question of the event will be whether anyone can stop Djokovic?
With the draw out and only hours left before the first men’s matches get underway at Indian Wells, it is time to fire up our projections for the title winners. Using GIG’s player ratings, we find that the top 4 seeds are also the top 4 picks for the title, though our ratings give fourth-seed Roger Federer a 5 times greater chance for the title than third-seed Sascha Zverev.
But the real story is how far ahead Djokovic is in the odds table compared to Nadal and Federer. Even with 6 wins to go, Djokovic’s comeback in 2018 and his title-winning form at the Australian Open have put him with a 53% chance for the win at Indian Wells, a statistically untouchable position. Djokovic gained 50 rating points at the AO, putting him over 200 points ahead of where he was this time last year.
Djokovic hasn’t been in competition since the AO, but the strength of mind and spirit he has shown in his public appearances in the interim suggest he is on track to live up to these expectations.
Using our event simulations, we can also trace the most likely path for the top 4 seeds, if they were to get to the final. The first thing that stands out is a likely second match between Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios nabbed the title in Acapulco only days ago, beating Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev along the way. There will no doubt be a lot of speculation about Kyrgios' ability to knock Djokovic out of the draw, though I think regression to the mean would suggest the odds of that our slim. Monfils, our 6th pick for the title overall, would be the most dangerous opponent we expect Djokovic could face to advance out of his quarter.
It looks like Nadal could also have a major challenge in his second match with his most likely opponent being Daniil Medvedev, our 5th pick for the masters title.
But it is clear that none of the top 4 have an easy path. And if even a fraction of these projected matchups come to be, there will be thrilling tennis in the days to come.