For the second straight major event in 2012 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have landed on the same half of the draw. That leaves Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray projected to clash in the top half semifinal of the Indian Wells tennis masters.
The World No. 1 Djokovic and defending champion is seeded to meet Delray Beach champion Kevin Anderson in the third round, Richard Gasquet in round four before Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Berdych may have to play the Andy Roddick-Ivo Karlovic winner in the third round to meet either Nicolas Almagro, Kei Nishikori or Sam Querrey in the fourth. It won’t be easy for the Czech.
Andy Murray is on the path to face the big serving Viktor Troicki, assuming the Serb gets through Ryan Harrison in the second round. Murray might then meet Stan Wawrinka or Gilles Simon ahead of a date against Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals. Fish’s only real roadblock could come in the form of John Isner in the fourth round. And if that match happens Isner gets the edge on form.
With Djokovic and Murray relatively in good places, the bottom half is where we find the action. Three-time champ Roger Federer’s section is loaded with danger. The Swiss, who’s won nine straight matches including a fifth title in another desert half a world away, could meet explosive Canadian Milos Raonic in the third round, Gael Monfils in the fourth before either Juan Martin Del Potro or David Ferrer in the quarterfinals. Both Delpo and Ferrer appear to have a great draws out to that fourth round encounter.
Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t played since that tough loss in the Australian Open final almost 45 days ago, probably won’t be tested until the quarterfinals where he hopefully will meet JW Tsonga. The Frenchman, though, will have to get past the Llodra-Gulbis winner in his opener, then the tricky Radek Stepanek before a potential meeting with David Nalbandian, Janko Tipsarevic or maybe Bernard Tomic.
Overall, it’s a pretty balanced draw. Federer’s is the toughest section with Delpo, Raonic and Ferrer, three guys who’ve been playing really good tennis of late.
I think Djokovic and Murray look strong for a semifinal clash while Nadal could have trouble with Tsonga if JW can get out that far.
Early on, among the few first round highlights are Gulbis-Llodra, Chardy-Baghdatis, Dodig-Dimitrov and the Tomic-Muller match could be a good one.
Matches begin on Thursday, I’ll have a pick and more thoughts before then.
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