Juan Martin del Potro is playing in his eighth BNP Paribas Open. But to Del Potro, some things are always the same in Indian Wells. For instance, his draw.
Every year, Del Potro said on Wednesday, he has the toughest draw. He doesn't even need to look at the other sections of the field. He just finds his name, and he knows – yep, that's the hardest part of the whole tournament.
“Always. It doesn't change. That's the draw, what I expect for sure,” Del Potro said during his pre-tournament press conference.
That was, without a doubt, the case last year in Indian Wells, when the Argentine, then the 31st seed, was drawn in the same quarter as second seed and five-time champion Novak Djokovic, fifth seed Rafael Nadal, ninth seed Roger Federer and up-and-coming players Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev.
Miss some of Wednesday's action? Keep reading below in our #ATPMasters 1000 Live Blog
The quarter was aptly named “The Group of Death”. Del Potro fell to Djokovic in the third round, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.
This year in Indian Wells, however, looks a little more pleasant for Del Potro, who's improved his seeding and therefore his draw.
He is the sixth seed in the desert, and the earliest he can face another seed is in the third round, if No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain meets him there. It would be their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of the year. Del Potro won both encounters but their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 6-6.
In the second round, Del Potro will face either German Jan-Lennard Struff or #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur.
“I'm very positive with my level of tennis at the moment, and I want to stay focused just on my first match and then see if I can go far in this tournament,” Del Potro said. “But I think that the most important thing is to try to stay calm and go step-by-step.”
Delpo at the BNP Paribas Open
The 29-year-old is back into the Top 10 at No. 8, his highest ATP Ranking since 3 August 2014. Just four days ago, Del Potro also celebrated winning the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco, his biggest title since the 2013 Swiss Indoors Basel, which is also an ATP World Tour 500-level tournament.
In Acapulco, Del Potro beat three Top 10 players – Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson – en route to his 21st tour-level title.
“I've got much confidence. Looking forward to playing good tennis in this tournament. I beat top opponents during the Acapulco tournament, which means something good to myself and I'm very excited to keep playing at the same level as I did last week,” he said.
Del Potro has never won the BNP Paribas Open or an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. He reached the final in Indian Wells in 2013 (l. to Nadal).
“If you want to win a title like this, you must play good tennis and beat many other good players, too, and that's my biggest goal,” Del Potro said. “So I need to go step-by-step, match-by-match and see how far can I go.”