Indian Wells: Swiatek back to defend her crown; sit on top of the draw

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World No.1 Iga Swiatek is back to defend her crown at the Indian Wells Masters, as the Pole sits at the top of the draw as the No.1 seed player.

Main-draw play at the WTA 1000 event starts on March 8, with World No.1 and defending champion Swiatek leading the field. Her run to the title last year was part of her 37-match winning streak, the longest of the 2000s.

Like all of the 32 seeded players, Swiatek has received a first-round bye. She will play the winner of the first-round match between Claire Liu and Alison van Uytvanck.

Two of the four former Indian Wells champions in the field could face off in the third round, with No.32 seed and 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu as a potential opponent for Swiatek.

No.5 seed Caroline Garcia is the other Top 10 seed in the first quarter. Also in this quarter are 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, No.12 Liudmila Samsonova, No.13 Beatriz Haddad Maia, No.19 Madison Keys, No.20 Magda Linette, No.30 Leylah Fernandez, and Danielle Collins.

The no.4 seed Tunisian Ons Jabeur heading into the second quarter. Jabeur, who withdrew from the entire Middle East swing with an injury, will play her first match since the Australian Open, against either Maryna Zanevska or Lauren Davis in the second round.

The two other former Indian Wells champions in the field, Victoria Azarenka and Paula Badosa are in this quarter. No.14 Azarenka, the titlist in 2012 and 2016, could potentially meet Jabeur in the Round of 16.

Jessica Pegula, the top-ranked American seeded no. 2, leads the third quarter. Pegula could face Camila Giorgi, who won the Merida title two weeks ago, in the second round.

This year’s Australian Open champion, Aryna Sabalenka, rests at the bottom of the draw as the No.2 seed. She will face either Alize Cornet or Evgeniya Rodina in the second round.

Sabalenka started the year with a 13-match winning streak before suffering her first loss of the season to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova in Dubai.

Sabalenka and No.16 Krejcikova could have a rematch in the Round of 16 if they both hold their seeds. Before that, Sabalenka could face No.29 Donna Vekic, who holds a 5-2 head-to-head lead over Sabalenka, in the third round. Vekic just won her fourth career title in Monterrey on Sunday.

Also in the bottom quarter, No.6 Coco Gauff of the USA and No.9 Belinda Bencic might be headed for a showdown in the Round of 16. Gauff picked up her third career title in Auckland in January, while Bencic has already won two titles this year, in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi.

The BNP Paribas Open kicks off two straight WTA 1000 events in the United States. The Miami Open will follow with a main draw starting on March 21.

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