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World No. 1 Iga Swiatek eye title defence at Indian Wells | Tennis News – Times of India



LOS ANGELES: Taylor Fritz‘s bid to retain his Indian Wells crown is boosted by a depleted men’s field while Iga Swiatek will look to become the first woman to go back-to-back in the desert in three decades when main draw action kicks off on Wednesday.
A year ago Fritz overcame a painful ankle injury suffered on the morning of the final to beat Spanish great Rafa Nadal and reach the promised land in “Tennis Paradise”.
The Southern Californian native will not have to worry about seeing Nadal again after the 22-time major champion chose to skip the event to rehabilitate a hip injury.
Also missing from action is world number one Novak Djokovic, the tournament’s five-time champion who withdrew on the eve of the draw after his request for a waiver to enter the U.S. despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19 was unsuccessful.
The Serb has not played Indian Wells or the Miami Open, which together comprise the “Sunshine Double,” since 2019.
The diminished field opens the door for a variety of players looking to use the prestigious tournament as a springboard into the rest of the year.
World number two Carlos Alcaraz could regain the top ranking he captured after winning last year’s U.S. Open with the title and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece has a chance to ascend to the peak for the first time by taking the crown.
Former world number one Daniil Medvedev of Russia is riding a hot hand having won three consecutive tournaments but has never reached the quarters at Indian Wells in five appearances.
Veteran Andy Murray will look to keep his positive early season momentum rolling as he hunts for his first title at the Masters 1000 event.
Swiatek is favourite to become the first woman to win successive tournaments since Martina Navratilova in 1991 and the 21-year-old has given every indication she is poised to do so, posting a 12-3 record to start the year and winning the title in Doha.
Last year, the Pole outgunned Maria Sakkari to claim the title and went on to complete the Sunshine Double amid a scorching 37-match winning streak.
But danger lurks in the form of 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu, who she could face in the third round.
World number two Aryna Sabalenka is also brimming with confidence after starting the year with a 13-match winning run and capturing her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

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