Federer, Djokovic Chasing Indian Wells History On Opposite Halves

In less than two weeks, the BNP Paribas Open could have an outright all-time greatest champion. But which five-time champion will perform better this fortnight: Roger Federer (2004-06, 2012, 2017) or Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2014-16)? This could well be determined on the final Sunday of the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Federer and Djokovic have been drawn in opposite halves of the 96-player tournament, which begins on Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, U.S.A.

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But neither all-time great will have an easy path in the desert, including Federer, despite his perfect start. The World No. 1 is 12-0 on the season, having won both tournaments he's contested – the Australian Open, his 20th Grand Slam title, and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, his 97th tour-level crown, which pushed him back to No. 1 for the first time since 4 November 2012.


After a first-round bye, Federer could meet American Ryan Harrison (2-0) or Federico Delbonis of Argentina (0-1) in the second round, with 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist Filip Krajinovic of Serbia possibly waiting in the third round. Brasil Open champion Fabio Fognini, always a tricky opponent, or 20th seed Adrian Mannarino of France will be the favourites to face Federer in the fourth round.

The Swiss' path could get plenty interesting in the quarter-finals. If the seeds hold, either fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who won the Argentina Open last month, or 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych could be Federer's quarter-final opponents. Berdych has beaten Federer six times, including five on hard courts, but trails in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-20.

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Berdych, however, might have to first squeeze past 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung in the third round. The South Korean has given nearly everyone in tennis trouble in 2018. The 21-year-old knocked out Alexander Zverev and Djokovic en route to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Melbourne.

Third seed Grigor Dimitrov will be favoured to face Federer in the semi-finals, in what would be a rematch of their Rotterdam final. But also lingering is Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC finalist Kevin Anderson; 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who reached the quarter-finals here last year (w/o vs. Federer); and 27th seed Andrey Rublev, who might face Dimitrov in the third round. The occasion would be their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting since the 2017 US Open (Dimitrov leads 2-1).

The Past 10 Indian Wells Champions




Roger Federer


Novak Djokovic


Novak Djokovic


Novak Djokovic


Rafael Nadal


Roger Federer


Novak Djokovic


Ivan Ljubicic


Rafael Nadal


Novak Djokovic

Djokovic, with an unfamiliar double-digit seed (10) next to his name, will meet a qualifier and, in the third round, possibly Kei Nishikori, another former Top 5 player on the comeback trail (wrist surgery). Djokovic has won 11 of their 13 FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups.

Should Djokovic prevail, fans could see a rematch of a third-round tilt from a year ago in Indian Wells. The Serbian might again meet the surging Juan Martin del Potro, who's fresh off his 21st tour-level title in Acapulco on Saturday (d. Anderson). Djokovic won their 2017 contest in Indian Wells and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 14-4.

But let's not forget about Marin Cilic, the second seed who pushed Federer to five sets in the Australian Open final. Djokovic, Nishikori and Del Potro – they are all living in Cilic's quarter. The Croatian could meet Philipp Kohlschreiber and then 15th seed John Isner or 24th seed Gilles Muller before a potential matchup against Djokovic, Nishikori or Del Potro.

Two-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev (2017 Rome, 2017 Montreal) will be the favourite to emerge from the other quarter in the bottom half. His path to the quarter-finals features possibly Milos Raonic and then either Rio champion Diego Schwartzman, the 14th seed, or Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, the 21st seed.

Eighth seed Jack Sock, who reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells last year, is projected to meet Zverev in the quarter-finals. But such a showing would mark a turnaround for Sock. He has started the year only 1-4.

«März 2018»