The tennis world is about to descend on Indian Wells and Miami in a March extravaganza known as the Sunshine Double.
This is one of the rare occasions outside of the Grand Slam events that sees the women’s WTA Tour and men’s ATP Tour competing on the same stage, in two tournaments that offer 1,000 ranking points for the winners.
These events have shifted around in the tennis calendar amid the Covid pandemic in recent years but have since reclaimed their original slot for 2023, and there is a palpable sense of excitement ahead of the first ball strike.
Here is your All Court Tennis Club guide to what we can expect from the Sunshine Double.
WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?
With world No.1 Novak Djokovic out amidst an ongoing struggle with US authorities over his vaccine status, the men’s draw has never been more open.All eyes will be on Russia’s
Daniil Medvedev after wins at his last three tournaments and having successfully rediscovered his best form in the process.
His convincing win against Djokovic in Dubai last week confirmed his alarming dip in form during the second half of 2022 has been halted, with the former US Open champion now gunning for the upcoming Indian Wells title.
With Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios out due to injury, Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas will be looking to cash in by winning a third ATP 1000 event.
You can also look out for a returning Carlos Alcaraz who will be a leading contender if he has shaken off an injury sustained in the final of the Rio Open against Cameron Norrie last month.
THE WOMEN’S DRAW
World No.1 Iga Swiatek has questions to answer as she aims to defend her title at Indian Wells.
The Polish big-hitter has turned in an erratic opening quarter of this year so far and pressure appears to be her biggest rival, with her defeat against Barbora Krejcikova at her last outing in Dubai further evidence that she can lose focus when the scoreboard gets tight.
Despite that flaw, Swiatek is the outstanding favourite to win the title in both Indian Wells and Miami, with her presence on the court ensuring she has an edge over most rivals.
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina beat Swiatek at the Australian Open in January and will be one to watch in California, while America’s Jessica Pegula is another player with a big win against Swiatek on her horizons for 2023.
Chef Stef 👨🍳 🔥#TennisParadise | @steftsitsipas pic.twitter.com/ZiJ0Ngj9tP
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) February 6, 2023
THE DARK HORSES
Could this be the tournament that sees 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu shift back into the spotlight?
The British star missed her last event due to tonsillitis, but she has arrived in Indian Wells and certainly has the potential to shine on her favoured American hard courts.
Italian glamour girl Camila Giorgi is another player to watch over the next couple of weeks after she confirmed she is much more than an Instagram influencer by winning a big WTA Tour event in Mexico last month.
Make that title number 4️⃣!!!
Camila Giorgi halts Peterson, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-2 to win the @WTAMeridaOpen 🏆#MéridaOpenAkron pic.twitter.com/0FeNF5Yrvz
— wta (@WTA) February 27, 2023
In the men’s draw, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has shown signs of a return to form in recent weeks after a run to the final in Qatar.
Murray, who reached the Indian Wells final back in 2009 will be in good shape if he can avoid long matches in the early rounds.
Looking at the ranks of young guns, Denmark’s Holger Rune is a live contender as he looks to live up to his billing as the newest entry in the top ten of the ATP Rankings.
PICKING A CHAMPION
Confidently picking a winner at Indian Wells is tough as unpredictability hovers over the two singles’ draws, but here are our picks.
Let’s go for Daniil Medvedev to get the job done in the men’s draw, with Kazakstan’s Elena Rybakina our pick in the WTA tournament.