Karolina Pliskova is the top seed.G
After a quiet couple of weeks, tennis fans can gear up for 10 days of high-octane action when the 2021 BNP Paribas Open, the final WTA 1000 tournament of the season, kicks off on Wednesday.
Bianca Andreescu returns to defend her crown from two years ago, while Slam champions Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka, as well as 2021 US Open finalists Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, are in the mix.
With main draw action set to begin on Wednesday, here is a look at the prospects of some of the big names in the fray.
1st quarter: Karolina Plisova and Maria Sakkari on course for US Open rematch, Bianca Andreescu faces tricky title defense
Bianca Andreescu is the defending chmapion.
Top seeded players:  Karolina Pliskova,  Maria Sakkari,  Ons Jabeur,  Bianca Andreescu
Expected quarterfinal: Karolina Pliskova vs Maria Sakkari
Dark horse: Ons Jabeur
Top seed Karolina Pliskova finds herself in the same quarter as sixth seed Maria Sakkari, her conqueror at Flushing Meadows. The Czech will be keen to avenge that loss at Indian Wells, but she will first need to manouever through a section that also features the defending champion Bianca Andreescu.
Pliskova has a relatively simple path leading up to the fourth round. She will face Caty McNally or Saisai Zheng in the second round followed by a possible encounter with Nadia Podoroska.
Andreescu, meanwhile, could come up against Portoroz finalist Alison Riske in her opener.
If she were to come through that match, the defending champion could well run into another in-form opponent in Anett Kontaveit. The Estonian produced a splendid display to take the title in Ostrava and could well prove to be a huge test for Andreescu.
Maria Sakkari will be eyeing another deep run.
Sixth seed Maria Sakkari finds herself in a tricky section as well. She will open against the winner of the exciting first-round encounter between Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrosouva and a resurgent Viktorija Golubic.
Sakkari, who recently made history by breaking into the top 10 of the world rankings, could face either Ons Jabeur or Danielle Collins in the fourth round. Jabeur, much like Sakkari, recently achieved a career-high ranking, but she will need to be at her best to avoid an upset against the mercurial Collins.
Quarterfinal Prediction: Karolina Pliskova def. Maria Sakkari
2nd quarter: Slew of talented youngsters look to upset Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova
Barbora Krejcikova (R) and Katerina Siniakova.
Expected quarterfinal: Barbora Krejcikova vs Garbine Muguruza
Dark horse: Coco Gauff
While Giorgi has been given a bye in the first round, Anisimova will open against countrywoman Katrina Scott. Both Giorgi and Anisimova have shown promise in recent months and could well cause a few problems for the third seed.
In-form players Paula Baodsa and Coco Gauff are also present in this section and could face off in the third round. Badosa and Gauff have posted quite a few memorable wins this season over big names and a potential encounter between the two could well be one of the highlights of the first week.
Garbine Muguruza is fresh off a title run in Chicago.
A mouthwatering fourth-round match between Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber is also a possibility in the second quarter.
Muguruza, who is fresh off a title run in Chicago, could face Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round before a potential clash with either Tamara Zidansek or Ana Konjuh.
Kerber, a finalist from two years ago, will open against either Katerina Siniakova or Kim Clijsters, who is still searching for her first win since her comeback to the tour. The Belgian, who has been unlucky with her draws of late, will hope to find her best tennis against Siniakova, who has beaten the likes of Serena Williams this season.
Another former finalist in the form of Daria Kasatkina looms in this section and could well be Kerber’s opponent in the third round.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza def. Paula Badosa
3rd quarter: Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova lead the ‘quarter of death’
Petra Kvitova (L) and Elina Svitolina
Top seeded players:  Elina Svitolina,  Petra Kvitova,  Simona Halep,  Elise Mertens
Expected quarterfinal: Elina Svitolina vs Petra Kvitova
Dark horse: Emma Raducanu
The third quarter of the draw is jam-packed and features a number of players capable of winning the title, including Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina. Kvitova’s section could witness multiple matches between Grand Slam champions as early as the third round.
The Czech could run into familiar foe Victoria Azarenka in the third round. The two share an exciting rivalry and a potential third-round encounter would mark their ninth meeting overall, and first since 2019.
Another exciting third-round contest in this section could see Simona Halep take on US Open champion Emma Raducanu. Halep is likely to face the hard-hitting Marta Kostyuk in the second round, while Raducanu could take on fellow teenager María Camila Osorio Serrano in her opener.
Emma Raducanu will be playing in her first tournament since winning the US Open.
Elina Svitolina, meanwhile, could come up against the likes of Tereza Martincova and Sorana Cirstea early. The Ukrainian’s recent displays on the American hardcourts indicates she is in good form, but she will still need to find a high level if she is to make a deep run.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina def. Petra Kvitova
4th quarter: Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova make a final push for WTA Finals qualification
Leylah Fernandez returns to action in Indian Wells.
Top seeded players:  Iga Swiatek,  Belinda Bencic,  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova,  Elena Rybakina
Expected quarterfinal: Iga Swiatek vs Belinda Bencic
Dark horse: Leylah Fernandez
Belinda Bencic has played a lot of tennis in recent weeks as she continues to push for WTA Finals qualification. The Swiss has been handed a relatively easy draw in Indian Wells, with countrywoman Jil Teichmann the only real threat before the fourth round.
Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova leads the other section, which features a few power-hitters. The Russian will open against Madison Keys or Kaia Kanepi, ahead of a possible third-round match against the returning Leylah Fernandez.
Fernandez has not played since her run to the final in New York. She will need to find her feet quickly as she could face seasoned campaigner Alize Cornet in a tricky opener.
Iga Swiatek is the second seed.
Former Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek is likely to open against Petra Martic. She could then run into either Veronika Kudermetova or Liudmila Samsonova in the third round. A rematch against Elena Rybakina, who Swiatek beat in Ostrava a few weeks ago, is a possibility in the fourth round.
Rybakina will, however, need to come through a section that features the likes of Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Ostapenko. If she can do that, the youngster will have a shot at avenging her loss to Swiatek.
Prediction: Elena Rybakina def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Prediction for semifinals
Karolina Pliskova def. Garbine Muguruza
Elena Rybakina def. Elina Svitolina
Prediction for the final
Karolina Pliskova def. Elena Rybakina