With many top players not in the field — Serena, Williams, Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty — it looks to be another wide-open women’s Masters event at the fall version of Indian Wells.
The top seed will be Karolina Pliskova when tournament play opens tomorrow. The Czech is followed by No. 2 seed Iga Swaitek, No. 3 Barbora Krejcikova, No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 5 Garbine Muguruza, No. 6 Maria Sakkari, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 8 Belinda Bencic.
Arguably the biggest names are not among the Top 8 seeds. Brit teen star Emma Raducanu plays her first event since her incredible US Open triumph last month as does the runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
Fellow teen Coco Gauff also returns along with former winners Simona Halep, defending champ Bianca Andreescu and 38-year-old Kim Clijsters who last won Indian Wells in 2005 (she also took the title in 2003).
The projected quarterfinals in the 96-draw look like: Pliskova-Sakkari, Krejcikova-Muguruza, Kvitova-Svitolina and Bencic-Swiatek.
In the first quarter, Pliskova could face Andreescu in the fourth round while Sakkari could meet an in-form Ons Jabeur in her third match match. Sakkari could have a date with Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova in her opener. Danielle Collins lurks for Jabeur. Andreescu’s seed would be Anett Kontaveit who has won 13 of her last 14 matches.
The second quarter features four Grand Slam winners (3 French) in Kim Clijsters, Garbine Muguruza, Barbora Krejcikova and Angelique Kerber. Muguruza, who just won Chicago over the weekend, could face Wimbledon quarterfinalist Ajla Tomljanovic, then French semifinalist Tamara Zidansek with potentially Kerber in the fourth. Clijsters opens against Katerina Siniakova with the winner to face Kerber. Gauff could face Paula Badosa in the third round with either Krejcikova or Camila Giorgi ahead.
The third quarter is arguably the toughest with five Grand Slam winners including Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Halep and Raducanu. Kvitova could meet Azarenka in the third round with Raducanu or Halep next. Before Halep, Raducanu will await the winner of Osorio Serrano and Sasnovich in her opener. Elise Mertens, Elina Svitolina, Jessica Pegula and Stephens figure to contend for a quarterfinal berth in their second.
Youngsters Swiatek and Fernandez lead an open bottom quarter along with French champion Jelena Ostapenko, French finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, gold medalist Bencic and Elena Rybakina. Swiatek could meet Rybakina in her fourth round. Fernandez might open against Alize Cornet, then meet Madison Keys or Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic looks to have a great draw to the fourth round.
Play in the women’s draw gets under way Tuesday with Stephens and Keys headlining play. Seeds will be on court on Thursday.
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