The first leg of the duel ATP & WTA Spring Double starting off today in the Californian Desert of Indian Wells, with Miami the next stop later in March, before we head to the European Clay.
A profitable return last week to AntePost Tennis after a short break as Pablo Cuevas the claycourt supremo successfully defended the São Paulo title at 7/1, so onto this week.
The Men's draw looks extremely bottom heavy with a potential fourth round clash between Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer on the cards which would be a repeat of the surprise Australian Open final in January.
3x Defending Champion Novak Djokovic could be the winner's quarter-final opponent but don't rule out dangerous floaters in that section like the in-form Grigor Dimitrov or extrovert Aussie talent Nick Krygios, who of course has a recent win just last week in Acapulco over Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray heads the betting at 12/5 with SkyBet or is 9/4 general and despite the World number one stating, he has never found a way to get comfortable here in Indian Wells throughout his career, the draw certainly gives him a chance to find his feet and top level over the next 11 days.
Stan Wawrinka or Jo-Wilfred Tsonga appear his main dangers in making the final and both could pop up at any time, Stan usually is off-form at this stage of the year and is happily bypassed in these attacking, high bouncing, quick conditions, where the balls tend to fizz through the air on the slick side, and see Frenchman, Tsonga, 40/1 winner back to back weeks on tour recently as the chief threat to Murray's title charge in that half.
Nadal 10/1 a former champion here would be my tentative pick from the bottom half with his intentions of a big run this month clear, having swerved the golden swing on the clay in South America for hard court preparation in Acapulco in which he went all the way.
Federer will be all out this week as he favours the courts here over Miami and Djokovic's three titles in a row must be respected but that form and confidence seem a long way off right now.
Preference is for a new Champion, and i am siding with Andy Murray who won his maiden Dubai title just two weeks back and is coming here fully tuned knowing big points are on offer at this opening Masters 1000 event of the year, with little points to defend from last year Murray is fully aware this month is a big opportunity to pull further away from the main rival at the top of the rankings in Novak Djokovic and Murray's price of anything over 2/1 certainly catches my eye.
WTA Indian Wells
The Women got underway a day early but we haven't missed too much with the top seeds receiving a bye into round two and we have the conclusion to round one later tonight.
The big news this week came from the Serena Williams camp as she has confirmed an ankle injury has ruled her out of both Indian Wells and Miami.
I am very pleased to hear this news from a betting perspective as it is often such a hard ante-post market to weigh up with Serena in the field due to playing very little tennis, so we are most certainly looking at a better punting scenario now.
Angelique Kerber is the top seed and 2nd favourite at 13/2, however 4x opening round exits on the trot, coupled with the uneasy form she has shown early this campaign, these quick conditions that favour attacking, front foot players, Kerber doesn't appeal or tick enough boxes for me this week.
One player that does is tournament favourite Karolina Pliskova at 9/2 with Betfair or 4/1 general, who is the 3rd seed and highest ranked player in the top half of the draw.
Everything seems to be falling into place for the classy former US Open finalist and she has all the weapons on serve and on the ground to be a difficult to stop over the coming 11 days at what is the opening Premier Mandatory event of the season for the Woman.
Elina Svitolina 9/1 is in superb form winning the Dubai title two weeks ago and is now firmly a title threat where ever she plays at present.
Conditions will favour the Ukranian but I feel her serve may come under pressure more than it would elsewhere and is opposed this week.
A couple of top players are returning from injury in the way of Simona Halep 18/1 (knee) and Madison Keys 33/1 (wrist) would be shorter generally ante-post but again it is an easy decision to bypass this duo so soon on their return to action.
Joanna Konta is big at 14/1 but usually, finds a few too good at this major/premier mandatory level and would see Caroline Woznacki as a big price at 20/1 away from my selection of Karolina Pliskova.
Woznacki is in great heart and a former champion here as well as on numerous consecutive occasions reaching the last 4, but see the Golden Girl of Woman's tennis right now Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic adding the Indian Wells crown to the Brisbane and Doha titles already won in 2017 on outdoor hard courts.
Andy Murray to win Outright @ 12/5 SkyBet or 9/4 General.
Karolina Pliskova to win Outright @ 9/2 Betfair or 4/1 General.
Follow the Round by Round selections daily for Indian Wells on Twitter @ReddenCarl
Good luck everyone!