It is one of the most important times of year on the ATP World Tour — the world's best gather in Indian Wells, California, for the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season: the BNP Paribas Open. Roger Federer, the five-time champion and World No. 1, leads the field into the Coachella Valley where he is defending the 1,000 ATP Rankings points he claimed last year.
1) No. 1 for Now: Five-time champion Roger Federer defends his title and No. 1 ATP Ranking when he returns to the BNP Paribas Open. Federer will remain the World No. 1 if he reaches the semi-finals. Otherwise, Rafael Nadal re-claims No. 1 on 19 March for his fifth stint in the top spot and the 168th week of his career.
2) Fantastic Fed: Federer, 36, is the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Rankings history and owns records for the most weeks at No. 1 (306 as of 12 March), years since No. 1 debut (14) and years between stints at No. 1 (5). The Swiss is 64-5 with nine tour-level titles since returning in 2017 from a left-knee injury.
3) Novak Seeks Title No. 6: Following a “small medical intervention” on his right elbow, Novak Djokovic is scheduled to compete for just the second time since Wimbledon. Djokovic lost to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open fourth round on 22 January before undergoing surgery. He is a five-time BNP Paribas Open champion, tied with Federer for the most titles in tournament history (since 1976).
4) Three’s The Limit: After reaching finals at two of the past three Grand Slam events, Marin Cilic became the World No. 3. The Croat is the 16th player to be ranked No. 3 since 25 July 2005. Only four players during that span have been in the Top 2 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray).
5) Breaking Back: Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson have broken back into the Top 10 this season. Del Potro dropped to No. 1,045 before beginning his comeback from three left-wrist surgeries in 2016. Anderson fell to No. 80 after spending one week inside the Top 10 in 2015.
6) Delpo On The Rise: The Argentine is fresh off of winning the title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, where he beat three Top 8 players consecutively to clinch his first ATP World Tour 500-level trophy since 2013 Basel. Del Potro is now up to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings.
7) #NextGenATP Turns 2: Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz were 18 when they helped launch #NextGenATP at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. They are among the hottest players on Tour two years later. Zverev is ranked in the Top 5, Tiafoe captured the Delray Beach Open title on 25 February, and Fritz won the Oracle Challenger Series title in Newport Beach on 28 January.
8) Wild Cards: Four of the five wild cards are Americans: Ernesto Escobedo, Bradley Klahn, Reilly Opelka and Tennys Sandgren. Aussie #NextGenATP star Alex de Minaur, who reached the Sydney final, is the other wild card. De Minaur, Escobedo and Sandgren are making their main draw debut at Indian Wells.
9) Frenchman Rising: No. 1 Frenchman Lucas Pouille has reached three finals in the past four weeks, highlighted by his fifth ATP World Tour title at Marseille on 11 February. Pouille is at a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings.
10) Double Your Fun: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic enter the BNP Paribas Open with an 18-2 record on the season, sweeping doubles titles in January at Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open. Also in the draw are Californians Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who will make their 20th consecutive appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. The Bryans won the Indian Wells title in 2013 and 2014.