Federer Nadal Drawn In Djokovic's Quarter In Indian Wells
Welcome back, Roger Federer. Now get ready to possibly face Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic if you want to reach the semi-finals during your return to the BNP Paribas Open, the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, which gets underway on Thursday.
It's the first time ever that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been drawn in the same quarter. At the 2016 Internazionali BNL D'Italia in Rome, they were in the same half of the draw for the first time.
The trio has won 12 of the past 13 Indian Wells titles. But this year, only one has the chance to make it to the semi-finals.
Federer, the ninth seed, opens with a bye and could meet 24th seed Steve Johnson in the third round. But the potential fourth-round match-up with Nadal is the contest tennis fans have highlighted.
The battle would mark the 36th time the two have played. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-12 but Federer won their last contest, of course, taking the Australian Open final in January for his 18th Grand Slam title.
Knee surgery last year forced Federer to miss Indian Wells after 15 consecutive main draw appearances in the desert. The right-hander is 52-11 at the Masters 1000 tournament, including four titles (2004-06, 2012) and two runner-up finishes (2014, 2015).
Nadal, however, doesn't have a free pass to the Round of 16. He has a first-round bye and if he gets through his second-round match, the Spaniard could meet countryman and 26th seed Fernando Verdasco in the third round, which is always a contest worth watching. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 15-3, including a third-round win last year in Indian Wells.
Whomever reaches the quarter-finals from that section could meet three-time defending champion Djokovic, who's riding a 17-match win streak in the desert. But nothing is guaranteed in Djokovic's portion, either.
After a first-round bye, the Serbian could face Brit Kyle Edmund in the second round and 31st seed Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. Djokovic beat del Potro in three sets in Acapulco last week and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 12-4.
If the seeds play out, 15th seed Nick Kyrgios or #NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev, the 18th seed, could meet Djokovic in the fourth round. The victor from Djokovic's quarter could face fourth seed Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals.
On the top half, far away from the stacked bottom portion of the draw, sits top seed Andy Murray. The Scot, who has won the past two Masters 1000 titles, could meet 30th seed Feliciano Lopez in the third round and 16th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round.
The highest seed awaiting Murray in the quarter-finals could be seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Stan Wawrinka, the third seed, could meet Murray in the top half's semi-final.