Jack Draper, Holger Rune: 5 under the radar picks who could win Indian Wells 2023

The absence of Rafa Nadal and retired Roger Federer from Indian Wells has pried open a door which in the past was not accessible to a batch of upcoming ATP players.  

Holger Rune
Holger Rune is one of the most exciting ATP players rising through the ranks

Rafa Nadal’s truancy through caution and Federer’s shock retirement has left the door wide open to this year’s 2023 Indian Wells. 

Although Grand Slam titan and world number 1 Novak Djokovic has put pen to paper to attend, this still bodes well with potential dark horse winners outside the top 3 to only meet one kingpin in the tournament.

Indian Wells, also known more formally as the BNP Paribas Open, is one of the most prestigious events in the tennis calendar and is classed as an ATP Masters 1000 Event. 

While defending champion Taylor Fritz, Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz, and the in-form Daniil Medvedev are all in contention for the title, there is plenty of talent hoping to supplant the top stars.

Here are 5 players who have a shot of securing an Indian Wells trophy. 

Felix Auger Aliassime 

Auger Aliassime has been on the tip of tennis fans’ tongues in recent years and he could be considered to have underperformed with the plethora of talent the young Canadian possesses. 

The Montreal-born Aliassime secured Basel, Antwerp, Florence and most notably won the Rotterdam Open against Australian Open finalist Stefano Tsitsipas. 

With a quarter-final appearance at Rotterdam this year and a semi-final appearance in Doha, the Canadian has been building his stock in the hope of adding to his silverware cabinet with a 1000 Masters. 

There has been a glimpse of brilliance from Aliassime, one in the third round of this year’s Australian Open after he rallied from 2 sets behind to beat the dangerous Alex Molcan 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

It seems the Canadian has not yet hit his stride this year but if everything clicks into place then, he is, on his day unbeatable.

Frances Tiafoe 

Tiafoe is one of the rising American stars hoping to put the US back on the tennis map. 

The Maryland native has flourished on home soil before, winning the Delray Beach Open title back in 2018 and seems to utilise the partisan home support. 

With a third-round appearance at the Australian Open this year – falling short to the hard-hitting Karen Khachanov – Tiafoe has proven that he deserves to be ranked 15

Although Tiafoe has not played as much as he has liked this year, the Delray Beach Open winner has the arsenal to push deep into competitions, especially on home soil.  

Denis Shapovalov 

Shapovalov is one of the ATP’s most frustrating players. With a wealth of natural talent and winners to get fans off their seats, the Canadian in most eyes has fallen short of what he is really capable of. 

Having only won the 2019 Stockholm Open since turning pro in 2017, Shapovalov is desperate to leave an indelible mark on one of the major competitions.

Shapovalov suffered a third-round exit to Hugo Hurkacz at the Australian Open this year over a gruelling 5 sets and reached the fourth round of this year’s Delray Beach Open, to be put to the sword by fellow countryman Michael Mmoh 5-7, 6-3, 3-6.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Canadian. Shapovalov can put a venerable shift in when it’s all on the line – beating Andy Murray in 2o21 at Wimbledon in straight sets while reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon that same year and a quarter-final Australian Open appearance last year. 

The Isralei-born Shapovalov has the stock to reach the late stages of competitions but has to exercise composure when his emotions take over. 

Jack Draper

Jack Draper is one of the Brit’s gleaming jewels – an exciting prospect coming out of the U.K. and one that has a genuine chance of challenging for a major title. 

In a mouth-watering 2022 US Open journey, Jack Draper showcased his pure power and tennis prowess. A tournament that was cut short to injury in the third round to Karen Khachanov – Draper beat Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round and brushed aside Aliassime in the second round in straight sets. 

With a whopping 136 mph serve, Draper has a near-complete tennis arsenal. In spite of the fact that Draper has won nothing so far, the Brit is only at the young age of 21 and turned pro in 2018. 

Holger Rune

At the unbelievable age of only 19, Rune has exploded onto the tennis scene with many thinking he is destined to conquer the ATP tour in the future. 

A Rolex Paris Masters, Stockholm and Munich Open are already in the young Dane’s trophy cabinet. Rune is possibly the most likely man to win Indian Wells out of this list of players this year. 

The 19-year-old is not without his faults, his lack of maturity was evident this year at the Australian Open, losing his temper several times, after suffering a heart-wrenching tie-break defeat to Andrey Rublev in the fourth round 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-79.

This is all a learning curve for the world number 10 seed and pundits have tipped the Danish-born player to make a real splash this year.