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The 2021 BNP Paribas Open starts Wednesday with the women's main draw followed by the men taking the court on Thursday. Universal Tennis INSIGHTS helped preview the women's draw already and now it's time to take a look at the men's favorites.
It has been 30 long months since players last competed in Palm Springs, Calif., and the excitement for the return to "Tennis Paradise" is palpable—no matter where you're watching from. Unlike the women's draw, which is wide open, the men's field features some heavy favorites in top seeds Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, and Matteo Berrettini.
THE FAVORITES ACCORDING TO INSIGHTS
(1) Daniil Medvedev — 26%
(2) Stefanos Tsitsipas — 19%
(3) Alexander Zverev — 14%
(5) Matteo Berrettini — 8%
(4) Andrey Rublev — 5%
6) Casper Ruud — 4%
(12) Pablo Carreno Busta — 3%
(8) Hubert Hurkacz — 2%
(21) Cameron Norrie — 2%
Kei Nishikori — 2%
THE HIGHEST UTR RATINGS IN THE DRAW
The Top 10 list by highest UTR Rating isn't completely identical to the INSIGHTS favorites Top 10 because of how the draw shook out, but the Top 5 favorites are the same, which just confirms how strong the top of the men's game is.
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE TITLE
(1) Daniil Medevedev (UTR Rating 16.12)
With World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (UTR Rating 16.24) missing from the desert, Medvedev assumes the role of top seed. The Russian has earned the honor after beating the Serbian in the US Open final for his maiden Grand Slam title. The only match Medvedev has played since that milestone was one dominant Laver Cup singles win for Team Europe over Denis Shapovalov (UTR Rating 15.58). The 25-year-old Medvedev has won four titles in 2021 (Marseille, Mallorca, Toronto, and the US Open), matching his most titles won in 2019.
INSIGHTS gives Medvedev a leading 26% chance of lifting the trophy in Palm Springs. His career record in the desert is 3-3, having never gone beyond the third round. He'll open against Mackenzie McDonald (UTR Rating 15.41) and the first seed he could face is No. 27 Filip Krajinovic (UTR Rating 15.33). His biggest early obstacle could be No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka (UTR Rating 15.36), who just became the highest-ranked American for the first time.
A new men's Indian Wells champion is guaranteed with recent past champions Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Juan Martin del Potro all absent.
MOST LIKELY TO GO DEEP
(2) Stefanos Tsitsipas (UTR Rating 16.05)
The Greek is the second seed and appropriately, at 19%, he has the second-highest chances per INSIGHTS of winning the BNP Paribas Open. At 30%, he has the highest chances behind Medvedev of reaching the final. Like Medvedev, Tsitsipas has played just one Laver Cup match since the US Open, where he was stunned by rising teenager Carlos Alcaraz (UTR Rating 15.66) in the third round.
Tsitsipas hasn't appeared in a final since losing to Djokovic in the Roland Garros championship round. He opens against either Pedro Martinez (UTR Rating 15.34) or Roberto Marcora (UTR Rating 14.22) and the first seed he could face is No. 25 Fabio Fognini (UTR Rating 15.25). This coming week is ripe with opportunity for Tsitsipas as he has just a 1-2 career record in Indian Wells.
MOST EXCITING PLAYER TO WATCH
(30) Carlos Alcaraz (UTR Rating 15.66)
The 18-year-old Spaniard had a breakthrough this summer in reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open with a stunning upset over Tsitsipas in a fifth-set tiebreak. He hasn't played an ATP match since retiring with an injury against Felix Auger-Aliassime (UTR Rating 15.59), but he did compete in an exhibition.
Things could get interesting right away for Alcaraz as he could face three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray (UTR Rating 15.29) in his opener if the Brit can get past Adrian Mannarino (UTR Rating 14.91).
There is a lot of young talent in Palm Springs alongside Alcaraz including the newest face on the tour, Jenson Brooksby (UTR Rating 15.25). The Californian began his 2021 season by winning the UTR Pro Tennis Tour title in Newport Beach in January, and by August, he was taking a set off Djokovic in the US Open fourth round.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 p.m. EST, Oct. 5, 2021.