Tennis Picks: Odds to Win BNP Paribas Open

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 8:20 PM GMT

The BNP Paribas Open or Indian Wells, first of nine Masters 1000 events on the season, is set to get underway this week with Rafael Nadal vying to defend his title. Is the Spaniard the best bet or will another champion be crowned. Join us as we breakdown the Men’s draw in the Californian desert.

Djokovic odds makers’ favourite

Despite a rather shaky start to the season, Djokovic emerges as the odds makers’ favourite to win the title at Indian Wells listed at +175 tennis odds at Bet365 and as low as +150 at William Hill.

Djokovic boasts a 30-6 overall record at this event and two titles, which lends his favouritism some betting value. That and also he is known to be the best hard-court player in today’s game. Yet, he stumbled at the Australian Open in January – his beloved major. Then came completely undone against Federer in Dubai recently, a match in which he was uncharacteristically out of sorts and utterly confused. How much is down to his appointment of Boris Becker is debatable, hard to claim with any certainty. There is always an adjustment period to change so this could be simply par for the course. Turning the corner imminent for a player of his ilk. Then again, maybe he’s just having a bad professional year by his standards, seeing that he has the distraction of wedding plans in his personal life.

Nadal comes in as the odds makers’ second favourite to win outright at +225 tennis odds at both Bet365 and William Hill. Arguably, of the top favourites, the Spaniard offers the best value, particularly as he’s started the year rather impressively by winning Doha, finishing runner-up in Melbourne – an event many are of the opinion he could have (should have) won had he not suffered an ill-timed back injury – and winning in Rio (clay) two weeks ago. If there were a soupcon of doubt where he’s concerned, it’s his inability to successfully defend hard court titles in consecutive years, something that he’s been able to do with effortless ease on his beloved clay over his career.

Two titles and just one defeat in two months of the 2014 season however sets up Nadal rather well to defend his title at Indian Wells, an event owned by his good chum Larry Ellison ( a huge Rafa fan). The Spaniard owns a standout 40-6 mark in the Californian desert with three titles. Claiming a fourth would tie him with the great maestro, Roger Federer (42-9 record at this event).

Speaking of the great Swiss maestro, he’s moved up the tennis betting pecking order in recent weeks, since winning the title in Dubai and, most impressively, underscoring that title victory by beating Djokovic in the semis and Berdych in the final. Federer ranks third in line to the title at +700 almost unanimously across online sportsbook betting platforms.

Andy Murray comes in fourth at +1000 to win outright but two things stand against him, prompting hesitation amongst tennis bettors, a) he’s not at 100% yet since having back surgery towards the end of last season, and b) Indian Wells hasn’t been a good tournament for him in the past, only reaching the final once five years ago where he lost to Rafael Nadal rather shabbily on an extremely windy day.

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Juan Martin Del Potro is another player with injury question marks hanging over him since withdrawing from his match in Dubai with a wrist injury. That’s why the Argentinean is found listed at long +2800 tennis odds to win this event when normally he’s matched at much closer odds to the top favourites.

Possibly, the player of most interest, the one all and sundry is keen to see, is Stanislas Wawrinka. Notoriously known as the “second” Swiss (top-ranked Swiss now according to the ATP rankings), Wawrinka is making his first appearance since shocking tennis-betting markets by upsetting Nadal to win the Australian Open. He’s listed at rather large +1600 tennis odds to win the tournament, curiously behind both Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych at +1400.

Clearly, odds makers aren’t quite prepared to buy what he’s selling and for good reason. The so-called “Big Four,” – no longer reflected in ATP rankings but in the context of the majors and Masters they are essentially still dubbed so – which includes Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer, have dominated all the major events and Masters events with nigh impunity. Just because Wawrinka crashed the party in January doesn’t necessarily mean a tidal shift is on the horizon. That notion gained traction  on the heels of Del Potro’s US Open victory in 2009 but just as quickly as it was born it died quietly, unable to survive without being substantiated.

That’s a rundown of your top contenders according to sportsbooks at Indian Wells but no discussion is complete without a look at the draw and its potential impact on the outcome. After all , tennis is all about the match ups.

The first thing that becomes immediately apparent when looking at the men’s draw is that Nadal drew the short stick, falling into the same section as Murray, Federer and Wawrinka. Talk about no love from the tennis gods. Murray is slated to meet Nadal in the quarters while the Swiss tandem is slated in the other quarterfinal of the top half of the draw (insert dramatic shiver).

And if that isn’t enough to contend with he also has big servers such as Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz (both at +10000) floating in his section as well as dangerous floater Gael Monfils (+8000).

Meanwhile, once again, Djokovic draws the favourable section with Del Potro and a whole slew of notorious chokers on the ATP Tour – Berdych, Gasquet and Tsonga – in his path. Berdych and Gasquet are slated to meet in the quarterfinals while Del Potro and Djokovic are slated for the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw.

While most pundits and experts alike expect Djokovic to reach his section’s quarter, the remaining three spots are wide open to all intents and purposes. Grigor Dimitrov (+4000), who won his first ATP 500 event in Acapulco last week, is a favourite here to potentially do some damage; that is, if he’s not exhausted from his efforts in Mexico. He’s in the Berdych-Gasquet quarter and could emerge in the final eight. American John Isner is also in the same section and if he’s healthy he could go deep. Canadian Vasek Pospisil, a player to watch this season, is also in this section. He could enjoy another breakout Masters (he reached the semis of the Rogers Cup last year) seeing he’s in a soft section altogether.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Djokovic has the easier draw hands down and that makes him a good tennis pick to win this tournament outright. That said Nadal is the in-form player right now and when time after time he’s reduced so-called tough draws to mere traipses in the park, so don’t be surprised if he does so again. As well, we’d include Federer here as he’s enjoying great momentum and his confidence must be high after Dubai. So if you are looking for the value tennis pick either poses great value.

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