Roger Federer looks to have a clear route to glory at the 2018 Indian Wells Masters, with Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal ensuring the world number one is by far the biggest name on show.

Nadal had intended to play at the BNP Paribas Open, as well as a following high-level event in Miami, as he makes his recovery from his latest injury problem.

But Nadal felt a hip injury during a tournament in Acapulco last week, with the Spaniard opting to pull out of the twin Masters-series tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami this month.

“I won’t be able to play in Miami or Indian Wells as I need to recover,” said Nadal. “It was very painful to retire from Acapulco and it’s very hard as well to not play in the USA. Unfortunately, the injury I suffered in Acapulco before starting the tournament is in the same area as the one suffered in Melbourne [at the Australian Open].”

Nadal’s decision to pull out of the draw means Federer stands alone among the traditional ‘Big Five’ who have dominated the sport over the last decade, with Stan Wawrinka also having pulled out late, the Swiss star struggling to recover from a knee injury.

With Andy Murray out long-term and Novak Djokovic not likely to feature despite being included on the initial player list for the event, Federer will be expected to continue the Indian summer of his career at Indian Wells. He is a clear favourite and will be seeking to win the tournament for the sixth time, having triumphed against Wawrinka in last year’s final.

Indian Wells Odds

888Sport was the first bookmaker to post outright Indian Wells odds this year and you can see those odds below. As other bookmakers publish the odds, I’ll be back to update this section so you can see which sites are paying the most for every player. As always, these odds come from the best tennis bookmakers.

Roger Federer5/4
Novak Djokovic6/1
Marin Cilic12/1
Juan Martin Del Potro12/1
Alexander Zverev13/1
Grigor Dimitrov14/1
Nick Kyrgios20/1
David Goffin33/1
Dominic Thiem33/1
Kevin Anderson40/1
Tomas Berdych50/1
Kei Nishikori50/1
Chung Hyeon66/1
Lucas Pouille66/1
Milos Raonic66/1
Diego Sebastian Schwartzman66/1
John Isner80/1
Karen Khachanov80/1
Denis Shapovalov80/1
Roberto Bautista-Agut100/1

Federer the Man to Beat

After winning the first major of the year at the Australian Open at the start of the year, Federer has enjoyed a light schedule, winning the Rotterdam Open in the only time he has been on the court since Melbourne Park.

Keeping his number one ranking is obviously a priority for Federer, though, with the Swiss fully aware he has 1,000 points to defend at the Indian Wells Masters.

With world number two Nadal not present, Federer has a chance to stretch his lead at the top of the tree and as things stand it is hard to see him being deposed over the course of 2018.

Backing Federer will be appealing for a lot of tennis fans, but at a price as short as 5/4 he is extremely skinny indeed for this tournament. While Federer is the man to beat, it is hard to argue good value is on offer for the veteran.

Federer has won here five times before and he is already the most successful player in the history of the men’s tournament. He will expect – and be expected – to make it six titles.

Cilic and Dimitrov Lead the Chasing Pack

With no other members of the ‘Big Five’ present at the BNP Paribas Open, it is down to Marin Cilic to take the second seeding and provide the main competition for Federer.

The big Croatian is offered at a price of 12/1 to take the title, but it would be the first time he has won at Indian Wells. The world number three will be hoping to get to the final and earn a rematch with Federer, who beat him comfortably in the final of the Australian Open.

Cilic suffered a surprise defeat in his second match at the Rio Open, being knocked out of the event by Gael Monfils, so he will be seeking to get back on track at this week’s tournament.

The 29-year-old won on the outdoor hard courts of the Cincinnati Masters last year and has the right style of game to cause players a lot of problems. He will be a hard man to beat here.

Grigor Dimitrov was the top seed in Dubai last week but, typically for the Bulgarian, suffered under the pressure of being expected to win and crashed out in the very first round.

Although he is the world number four – and seeded third for the Indian Wells event – odds of 14/1 look to be very flattering for a player who is simply too inconsistent to back on a regular basis.

Another Chance for Zverev

This year was supposed to be the year Alexander Zverev joined the elite, but 2018 has not quite gone to plan for the young German

The 20-year-old has struggled for consistency, but reaching the semi-final of the Mexican Open last week indicates he is getting back into some form in time for the Indian Wells Masters.

Zverev – offered at a price of 13/1 for the title – is the fourth seed and should therefore have a reasonably clear path to the latter stages of the tournament.

But Zverev has often shown he can be outmanoeuvred by more experienced players, with Juan Martin del Potro coming out on top in the last four in Acapulco.

Del Potro, incidentally, is the seventh seed for the BNP Paribas Open and offered at 12/1. He is always going to be a threat when fully fit and the Argentine got to the final here in 2013, only to find Nadal to be too strong at the last hurdle.

Another player going well is the up-and-coming French talent Lucas Pouille, who is having as good a 2018 as just about anyone on the tour right now. A strong run in Dubai should set Pouille up to be a contender at the Indian Wells Masters and a price of 66/1 provides each-way value.

Anderson Among Others Hoping to Shine

While casual fans may be put off by the absence of big names aside from Federer, the lack of the likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka offers an opportunity for others to thrive.

Roberto Bautista Agut won in Dubai last week and the Spaniard often goes under the radar. The Spaniard has two titles to his name already in 2018 and a big price of 100/1 appeals on an each-way basis for the Indian Wells Masters.

Kevin Anderson is always a threat on fast outdoor hard courts and the big-serving South African was in good form in Mexico last week. Odds of 40/1 will soon shorten if he fires here. Similarly, American John Isner may go well at 80/1.

Kyle Edmund announced himself on the world stage at the Australian Open and the talented young Briton could continue to build his reputation this week. Although he is only seeded 21 for the tournament, he has the ability to cause an upset or two and go deep into the draw at 125/1.

Indian Wells Masters Best Bets

Federer is the clear favourite here, but 5/4 is a very short price indeed on the Swiss legend. While he should win the event if he produces close to his best tennis, it is hard to back such a short price with a lot of very good players also in the mix.

Among the contenders, second seed Cilic looks a good option at 12/1 and the chance to play Federer in another final should be all the motivation the likeable Croatian needs here.

Further down the odds there are a few decent options on an each-way basis. Edmund looks primed for a breakthrough year and he can follow through on the momentum he created at the Australian Open. 125/1 is a very big price for one of the best young players on the tour.

Old heads will provide a threat as well. Anderson is close to a career high of eight in the world and he won the New York Open earlier in the year. 40/1 looks too big on the South African.

Lastly, Chung Hyeon got to the semi-final of the Australian Open and went well in Mexico last week. The South Korean will be a threat at a price of 66/1 despite being seeded 23 in the draw.

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