Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the relative downtime of the previous few weeks?
Since the Australian Open, the tennis world has been fairly not busy and able to just go about their business but that’s about to change. Every year at this time we get the two-headed monster that is the BNP Paribas Open followed by the Miami Open in back-to-back weeks and, other than for the fact of how insane it is to have two such big and important tournaments so close to one another, this also signals the launch into overdrive of this 2018 season.
After Indian Wells and Miami, there are very few weeks off on the calendar all the way until the US Open (and even beyond, if we’re entirely honest but #NorthAmericanChauvinism, etc.). Welcome to tennis in 2018: you need to complete a marathon at your top speed. Good luck. And every year it starts with the BNP Paribas Open, this seemingly fifth Slam that’s always hotly contested and highly competitive.
Welcome to California, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay but don’t get too comfortable either. You can’t stay long, there’s another tournament waiting just around the corner.
Well what do you know, here we are in 2018 after a soaring and renaissance period for Rafael Nadal, and the man now must step away from the sport he’s given so much to. It’s become a bit of a trend.
Still, this main draw on the men’s side is rather loaded, and it all starts with the man at the top. Roger Federer is again the man to beat and unless some opponent plays the match of his or her life, he should have little trouble making it through to the quarterfinals. Nick Kyrgios will be awaiting him and we’re giving the nod to the Australian because why not. In the second half of the draw, we’re envisioning the same kind of scenario unfolding, with a veteran (i.e. in this case Novak Djokovic) occupying one half of the semifinal and an upstart (i.e. Alexander Zverev) in the other. The future belongs to the youth, so let’s give the advantage to the German here too.
If we’re any lucky, the highlights are going to be just as insane and ludicrous as last year’s.
From tweener lobs to drop shot volleys, the stars of the ATP World Tour? delivered the hot shots at #BNPPO17.
Let’s take a look back, shall we? ? pic.twitter.com/qBE3cuqniI
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) February 17, 2018
Quarterfinals: Roger Federer over Hyeong Chung; Nick Kyrgios over Grigor Dimitrov; Alexander Zverev over Lucas Pouille; Novak Djokovic over Gilles Muller
Semifinals: Nick Kyrgios over Roger Federer; Alexander Zverev over Novak Djokovic
Final: Alexander Zverev over Nick Kyrgios
The women’s draw is missing an equally large figure as the men’s one in Serena Williams. Still, it’s not all for naught, as her absence over the past year has allowed a number of talented and excellent players to fill the void.
Simona Halep lords over the top half of the draw, but she’ll need to work for anything she accomplishes in California—and she’ll accomplish, well erm, a lot but let’s not play spoilers yet. We also foresee great things for Americans Venus Williams and Madison Keys while absolutely nothing would please us more than a run to the quarterfinals (or even beyond) from the great Victoria Azarenka.
Quarterfinals: Simona Halep over Svetlana Kuznetsova; Karolina Pliskova over Maria Sharapova; Venus Williams over Madison Keys; Angelique Kerber over Victoria Azarenka
Semifinals: Simona Halep over Karolina Pliskova; Angelique Kerber over Venus Williams
Final: Simona Halep over Angelique Kerber
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG