Nadal, Djokovic, Blake Begin Indian Wells Campaign

Posted on March 15, 2008

The top seeds take the courts Saturday at the Indian Wells as second round play from the bottom half at the Pacific Life Open gets underway. Among the many men in action include defending champion Rafael Nadal and the man he beat in the final, Novak Djokovic.

Also highlighted on Saturday are No. 5 seed David Ferrer, No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet and No. 9 James Blake who headlines the evening session.

Nadal, who meets Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo, needs a very strong performance in the desert to maintain any hope of passing Roger Federer for the No. 1 position in Miami.

The Spaniard has cut Federer's No. 1 lead from 1,445 points at the end of last season to 350 points going into Indian Wells. This is the closest margin since May 10, 2004 when Federer led No. 2 Andy Roddick by that same figure. But Federer could build the lead in March since he lost early in Indian Wells and Miami last year while Nadal won Indian Wells and Djokovic reached the final in Indian Wells and won the title in Miami.

The No. 1 ranking cannot change hands at IW Open since Nadal is defending title points (500) while Federer lost in the opening round (5). But depending on the results of both players in Indian Wells, then the No. 1 position could be up for grabs going into Miami where Nadal has quarterfinal points to defend (125) while Federer has fourth round points coming off (75). Federer has ranked a record 215 consecutive weeks at No. 1 since Feb. 2, 2004 while Nadal has been No. 2 a record 138 straight weeks (since July 25, 2005).

On Sunday the top half will be featured, which means debuts from Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian.

In the U.S., Fox Sports Net will air coverage this afternoon, check your local listings. Live streaming from four courts is available online by clicking the banner below: