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Rafael Nadal is a three-time champion at Indian Wells.

Nadal To Challenge Djokovic For World No. 1 In Indian Wells

Spaniard needs to win the title to have a chance at returning to the top spot

Editor's Note: The BNP Paribas Open will not be held as scheduled due to coronavirus concerns.

Novak Djokovic enters the BNP Paribas Open, the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season, with the No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking, and the Serbian knows what he needs to do if he wants to keep it after Indian Wells.

Djokovic can guarantee that he’ll remain World No. 1 on 23 March if he reaches the semi-finals on the California hard courts, where he is a five-time champion. If last week’s Dubai champion does not advance to the last four, he will open the door for World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to return to the top spot for the first time since the Australian Open. Nadal must win the BNP Paribas Open to have a chance to climb to World No. 1.

Three-time champion Nadal (2007, 2009, 2013) holds a 54-10 record in the desert and has reached at least the semi-finals in 10 of his past 13 appearances. He advanced to the semi-finals last year before being forced to withdraw from his clash with Roger Federer due to a right knee injury, but arrives this year in perfect health. He stormed to his first title of the season last week in Acapulco (d. Fritz) without dropping a set.

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Djokovic currently leads Nadal by 370 points in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But since Djokovic lost against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Indian Wells third round last year and Nadal made the semi-finals, Djokovic is defending 315 fewer points at the Masters 1000 tournament.

With their 2019 Indian Wells points dropped, Djokovic leads Nadal by 685 points. Therefore, World No. 1 will be at stake in the desert. But Djokovic also will have an opportunity to extend his advantage and put himself in a strong position for Miami and then the clay season.

If Djokovic lifts his sixth Indian Wells trophy, he will extend his lead over Nadal by a further 400 points (should Nadal reach the final) and much more if Nadal does not make it to the championship match.

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

It is a critical month for both men in the battle for No. 1. If Nadal does not retake top spot during the ‘March Masters’, he will be hard-pressed to make up ground on clay, where he is defending 3,900 points and Djokovic is defending 2,500 points.

The Serbian (280 weeks) is chasing Pete Sampras (286 weeks) for the second-most weeks at World No. 1 in FedEx ATP Rankings history. If Djokovic maintains his spot, he will surpass Sampras on 20 April, and then set his sights on record-holder Roger Federer, who was World No. 1 for 310 weeks.

Did You Know?
Djokovic is off to an 18-0 start in 2020, including a perfect 7-0 record against opponents inside the world's Top 10. Nadal, last week's Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC champion, is 13-3.

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