Federer Seeks Desert Three-Peat
Here’s the Fed preview from the ATP:
Top seed and two-time defending champion Roger Federer comes into Indian Wells with a 16-1 match record on the season. The 24-year-old Swiss superstar has captured ATP titles in Doha and the Australian Open while reaching the final in Dubai, where he saw his record 56-match hard court winning streak come to an end against No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the final. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, Federer has compiled an amazing 171-11 match record (.940), winning 24 of 35 tournaments played in that stretch.
In addition, Federer has ranked No. 1 for 110 consecutive weeks since first taking over the top spot on Feb. 2, 2004. He surpassed Bjorn Borg on Monday and is now in fifth place in the history of the ATP Rankings for most weeks at No. 1. Federer received a first round bye, and will play the winner between South Americans Agustin Calleri-Nicolas Massu in the second round. Federer is 3-1 against Gambill. The last time they played was more than two years ago, when Federer defeated the American 6-4, 7-5 in Qatar. Federer has not played Calleri and he is 1-1 against Massu.
The first seed Federer could face is No. 30 Olivier Rochus in the third round and possibly No. 19 Dominik Hrbaty or No. 16 Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. Hrbaty is 2-0 lifetime against the Swiss and Gasquet is 1-1.
For the second year in a row the top two Croats loom in Federer’s quarter of the draw. No. 21 seed Mario Ancic, who reached ATP finals in Auckland and Marseille earlier this season, could face Federer in the quarters. No. 6 seed Ivan Ljubicic is one of four two-time ATP winners this season. Ljubicic won ATP titles in Chennai and Zagreb. His first seed is No. 27 Gael Monfils in the third round.
In the second quarter of the draw, the highest seeds are No. 4 David Nalbandian and No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko.
Nalbandian could face dangerous Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the second round and countryman Juan Ignacio Chela, the No. 29 seed, in the third round. Chela has won four of the six meetings although Nalbandian has won the last two.
The next two seeds Nalbandian could face are No. 18 Robby Ginepri or No. 14 Juan Carlos Ferrero in the fourth round.
Davydenko will play talented Scottish teenager Andy Murray or a qualifier in his opening round match. The No. 1 Russian could also face No. 28 seed Carlos Moya or countryman Marat Safin in the third round.
If Davydenko gets through his first two matches, No. 10 seed David Ferrer of Spain, No. 22 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland or 1999 champion Mark Philippoussis could wait in the fourth round.
In the bottom half of the draw, the highest seeds are No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Andy Roddick, No. 7 Gaston Gaudio and No. 8 Andre Agassi. Roddick and Agassi could meet in the quarterfinals. But first Agassi might have to get by No. 26 Tommy Haas in the third round. Haas is one of the hottest players on the ATP circuit this season with a 17-3 match record and two ATP titles. Agassi’s possible fourth round opponents are No. 12 James Blake or No. 17 Tommy Robredo.
Roddick will open against Argentine Jose Acasuso or a qualifier in his first match and possibly No. 32 seed Fernando Verdasco, who won two of three meetings against the American last year. Unseeded Ivo Karlovic is also a possible third round opponent. In the fourth round, the two seeds are No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez and No. 24 Igor Andreev.
No. 2 Nadal is coming off an impressive three-sets victory over top-ranked Federer in the final of Dubai last Saturday. The 19-year-old Spaniard opens against the winner of Robin Vik-Jan Hernych. Nadal, who is playing here for the second time (2004, l. 3rd RD), has 13 career titles in 15 finals.
Other seeds in Nadal’s section are No. 15 Radek Stepanek and No. 20 Sebastien Grosjean, both possible fourth round opponents.
Gaudio will the play the winner of Max Mirnyi-Cyril Saulnier in his opening round match and then possibly No. 25 seed and Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the third round.
No. 9 seed Lleyton Hewitt won back-to-back titles here in 2002-03 and was runner-up last year. Hewitt plays the winner of Boris Pashanski-Rainer Schuettler in the second round. If successful, he would likely have a third round clash with No. 23 Tomas Berdych or Tim Henman.
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