The BNP Paribas Open women's doubles draw is set, with several surprising pairings set to make their mark here in Indian Wells. Defending champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe would be playing with different partners this year after their short-term partnering last year, with Mattek-Sands playing with her long-term partner Lucie Safarova and Vandeweghe having to rely on a wildcard to be in the draw alongside Shelby Rogers.
Who is playing?
The top seeds would be the recent Australian Open champions, Mattek-Sands and Safarova, who would be aiming to add yet another big trophy into their massive collection. The second seeds would be the all Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who received a beneficial draw which would aim them in their hunt for the title.
The biggest shock of the draw is no other than the third-seeded wildcard pairing of Caroline Garcia and Karolina Pliskova, a pair that was decided off a last-minute decision. Having just made announcements that they wanted to focus on just singles competitions, it came as a huge surprise as Garcia and Pliskova wanted to split with their long-term doubles partners just recently, but yet they are partnering up here.
The fourth seeds in the competition would be the pairing of Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova, having reached three semifinals in this year alone. Being one of the most consistent pairs on the tour, they reached the final in Sydney before adding semifinal appearances in both Doha and Dubai. With these results, they are one of the pairs who would definitely be one of the favourites to vie for the title.
There would be three seeded pairings that would take some time for fans to get used to as Vania King reunites with Yaroslava Shvedova this year after their successes in 2010, and Abigail Spears switching partners to have the veteran Katarina Srebotnik as her long-term partner. Perhaps the most surprising of them all would be the pairing of Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis, after the Taiwanese split up with her sister as they suffered were on the receiving end of some disappointing losses.
Another unexpected pairing would be the world number three Kristina Mladenovic and former world number three Svetlana Kuznetsova, sharing a total of five doubles (mixed and women's) grand slams between them.
Australian Open and Dubai finalists Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai would also be in the running for the title, considering their great form recently and their ability to beat the top pairs.
As in all normal tournaments, the top seeds headline the top quarter with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova facing a dangerous pairing in Christina McHale and Monica Niculescu in the first round. Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson potentially awaits in the second round and would pose a huge obstacle for the American-Czech pairing.
The other half of this quarter is probably the tightest and most unpredictable of the whole draw, with a massive amount of 256 finals being shared between all eight players. Fifth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai open against a dangerous pairing in Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova in the first round, before a meeting with either Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kristina Mladenovic or Anna-Lena Gronefeld and Kveta Peschke in the second round.
Quarterfinal Prediction:  Andrea Hlavackova/Peng Shuai d.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova
Fourth seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova faces a tough task in the first round itself already, as they would face Julia Goerges and Jelena Ostapenko, both of whom are in the top 50 of the singles rankings. A second round meeting with Sara Errani and Alicja Rosolska could be possible, with the Italian returning from a lengthy injury lay-off.
Sixth seeds Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis look to make a mark in their new partnership after a series of early exits but would face a very tricky opposition in Raquel Atawo and Xu Yi-fan, both former grand slam semifinalists in doubles. A veteran pair of Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez could be awaiting in the second round, but they first have to get past defending champion Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers in the first round.
Quarterfinal Prediction:  Chan Yung-jan/Martina Hingis d.  Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova
The brand new pairing of Caroline Garcia and Karolina Pliskova would headline the third quarter as the third seeds and faces a relatively easy opponent in the first round. The second round would see them face either Laura Siegemund and Elina Svitolina or Kateryna Bondarenko and Chan Hao-ching, with Svitolina being a top 10 player in singles and Chan being a former world number five in doubles.
Eighth seeds Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik would face a relatively tricky opponent in their opener against Timea Bacsinszky and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, both players who had achieved numerous successes on the singles court in their careers. The second round would not get easier for them, though, as Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova possibly awaits them there. Hradecka, being a former world number four in doubles and three-time grand slam champion (women’s and mixed) in her career, would definitely pose a danger to any of the pairs.
Quarterfinal Prediction: [3/WC] Caroline Garcia/Karolina Pliskova d. Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova
Last but not least, the last quarter would be headlined by the second seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the Rio Olympics gold medalist and WTA Finals champion. They face a clear path to the quarterfinals, with the pairing of Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai being their main obstacle along the way. Nevertheless, the Russians should have enough to get past to the latter stages of the tournament.
The other half of this quarter is very crowded, with seventh seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova having their luck to blame after being drawn in a tough quarter. They face the Sydney International champions Timea Babos and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, yet another new pairing, in the first round which could possibly pose a big problem for the reunited pairing who achieved much success in 2010. The winner of this match would most probably face dangerous wildcards Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, who reached three of four grand slam finals in 2013. They had just won the Malaysian Open days ago, with both players making a return back into the top 100 of the rankings after a tough period of time between 2014 and 2016.