Indian Wells Draw: Former Champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Headline Field
by Sean Randall | March 8th, 2016, 10:09 pm

Rivals, er, Tri-vals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray headline the first ATP Masters event of the 2016 season starting Thursday in Indian Wells.

Djokovic has won the title four times including the two while Nadal is a 3-time champion most recently in 2013. Murray’s never won reaching the final just once in 2009, but with the absence of 4-time champ, 2-time runner-up Roger Federer, the door is open for the new father. And I’ll get to his draw in a moment.

First to the top half.

Novak Djokovic Quarter
Is there anyone who can stop Djokovic? I don’t think so. Unless his eye gets infected from staring at the desert sun too long, there’s not much opposition in his section. Phil Kohlschreiber could be a third round foe. Feliciano Lopez, who benefited from the eye injury in Dubai, would be a welcome rematch for the Serb in the fourth, and then in the quarters I’m interesting in seeing if the surging Dominic Thiem can do well in the light air. The Austrian could have Jack Sock in the third then either Sam Querrey or JW Tsonga in the fourth. Querrey’s a Californian and has been playing well, maybe I’ll got with him. But Djokovic is too strong in the end.
The pick: Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal Quarter
After a rough start to the year, the last thing Nadal needed was a tough section at Indian Wells. But that’s how the draw came out. Nadal, who hasn’t even beaten a Top 50 player this year, will have recent Rotterdam champion Martin Klizan in the third, then Grigor Dimitrov/Alex Zverev or Gilles Simon the fourth – I like Simon there, and in the quarters he could face Kei Nishikori or perhaps John Isner or Benoit Paire. It’s a tough section and as much as I’d like to see Nadal do well, I need to see him win some tough match over some quality opponents, so for now I like Nishikori over Simon.
The pick: Kei Nishikori

Stan Wawrinka Quarter
In a very wide open section of the draw, we find Stan Warwinka, Richard Gasquet, Marin Cilic, David Goffin, Alex Dolgopolov and even young Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe who clash in the first round. As for the top names, I rate Stan the slight favorite after his Dubai win – though who’d he beat there? – and maybe Cilic. A healthy Gasquet could be a danger as well.
The pick: Stan Wawrinka

Andy Murray Quarter
After some tough results over the years at Indian Wells, Murray put together a decent run last year reaching the semifinals. Now playing his first event as a dad, Murray will again be the favorite to emerge. On paper, it’s a tough section with Tomas Berdych, Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils, Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic. But the fact is Berdych, Kyrgios. Tomic and Raonic are all coming off injuries and illness. So who knows who much of a form they’ll be in. Meanwhile, Murray has to be recharged after a month off and I like his draw. He’ll open with either Dzhumer or Granollers, then Joao Sousa (they seems to play a lot!), followed by Kyrgios or Monfils (ha ha, what a match that would be) and in the quarters if he’s healthy I think Raonic is the guy. And in a scrap, I think Murray comes through. But the guy I most want to see is Juan Martin Del Potro who’ll take on a qualifier to play Berdych. If her were at full strength – no way he is – he’d be my pick here. But I’m just glad to see him name above the line again.
The pick: Murray

So my semifinals right now look like Djokovic v Nishikori and Warwinka v Murray. And I Djokovic proves too strong for Kei and I like Stan to down Murray.

In the finale, it’s Serbia over Switzerland for the third straight year, only think time Djokovic beats Stan.

Other stories to watch are the young guys. I mentioned Fritz-Tiafoe and also Zverev. Hyeon Chung, Borna Coric and Jared Donaldson are all in the field. This is the first time they are playing a hardcourt Masters with some attention on them. So let’s see if they can make some noise.

A couple of guys who could be dangerous are Isner and Paire who are seeded to meet in the third round of the Nadal quarter. The winner of that one could end up facing Djokovic in the semifinals. Isner has had a lot of success in the desert. Watch out for him.

And like I said, I just hope for the best for Del Potro. Let’s see if he can continue to add power to that backhand. We saw last month in Delray he began with the but slowly began adding some pop. Now, after a few more weeks of hitting, he should be even stronger.

Nadal will also have the spotlight. It’s not an easy draw and another early out would just ramp up the rhetoric.

Also mentioning is Federer. For the first time on this blog Federer won’t be in Indian Wells. So the tournament will have a strange vibe to it. But the games go on.

Tennis Channel starts coverage Wednesday with the start of the women’s draw. The men’s first round begins Thursday with the seeds debuting on Saturday and Sunday.

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33 Comments for Indian Wells Draw: Former Champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Headline Field

AndyMira Says:

Hey Pauly..where are you?Take a look at rafa’s sweet..rafa is so….

jalep Says:

Nice. Finally a Sharapova-free zone, maybe. Fingers crossed.

Voted for Nole to win Indian Wells.

Nice draw. But I have a lot of questions about those who took a beating, win or lose, in Davis Cup: Nole, Kukushkin, Andy, Kei, Berdych, Sascha Zverev, Kohlschreiber, Goffin, Cilic, Thiem, Sousa, Tomic, Pospisil.

Then there’s the ones coming off injury like Raonic and del Potro. However, Raonic and Delpo might be in better shape than many of the DC warriors.

Nole over Sock QF, Rafa over Isner QF, Wawrinka over Gasquet QF, Andy over Milos or Delpo QF.

Nole v Rafa, Stan v Andy SF’s

Might change my mind on a few of those…

Can’t see Kei making the QF with how injury prone he is and coming off Davis Cup. I think Nole and Andy make it. It won’t be easy.

Lot’s to like about Indian Wells, as always.

skeezer Says:

Are u going? ;)

skeezer Says:

Are u going?🎾

jalep Says:

Sadly, no, skeezer.
Are you?🎾🏜

Anku Says:

Easy draw for Murray. Tricky ones for Nole and Rafa. Thiem can really gain a lot of confidence for major tournaments if he manages to win it. Don’t expect Novak to win it though with his difficult draw and tough week that he had to endure at DC. He certainly looks vulnerable at this point.

Pauly Says:

Nadal can win this tournament it’s suited to his game
It’s bouncy which he loves but sadly it’s gonna be more misery
He is no longer the BEAST so NO he won’t win
However put up good showing here & gain confidence for Monte Carlo
Good luck Rafa
Crank up the serve & forehand

J-Kath Says:

Carrying forward DC exhaustion for Nole, Andy and Kei will affect the outcome. Think Stan will win.

Pauly Says:


Nadal vs vedasco ?
Might happen … Nadal can’t hide

Van Persie Says:

Nole or Andy will win the tournament, me thinks.

AndyMira Says:

Yes soon as 3rd round!how’s that?But i think he will come out alive in this duel..he rarely lost twice to the same player back to back except to nole and fognini[only last year,mind you!]..

Pauly Says:


It’s not easy to beat verdasco
This isn’t the Nadal in beast mode don’t forget
If only Nadal can get Angry & really start playing his best ?
Hoping to see Nadal just explode big ground shots

AndyMira Says:

I know pauly..somehow i get the feel that he will pass verdasco test this time around..but if he fail to do that..that’s ok..he still searching his inner strength..

Michael Says:

At the moment, when he is reigning so supreme, Novak can be beaten only by his own body !!

AndyMira Says:

@Michael..i could say the same about rafa..if he was not been beaten by his own body by getting injured so many times..he maybe stand alongside roger at 17 or more..and certainly would not be in his current position at all!

Green Lady Says:

No disrespect but I think Michael wants Novak to win everything lol.

AndyMira Says:

@GL..of cozzz he’s a matter of whether he can or can’’s interesting to see how far can he drag his body to accomplish’s a multi task..

Dave Says:

Nole and Andy will be fine as far as fatigue goes. This is a 10 day tournament and best of 3 set matches. They will breeze through some of their matches with very little court time. The surface for Nole will be faster and he won’t have the same issues as the slowwwwwwwwwwwww davis cup courts. I really like Thiem and seeing his matches live in Acapulco live was amazing. The biggest issue with him beating Nole is that as powerful as his one handed backhand is and it might be as powerful as Stan’s, it isn’t even close to as consistent as Stan’s when Stan is on fire. So Nole will break the one handed backhand down at this point in Thiems career. I just don’t see him pulling off the upset at this point, even if Nole isn’t at his best.

jane Says:

thiem’s best surface seems to be clay, would people agree? so a slower court?

Margot Says:

20th anniversary of Dunblane today. Prog on the BBC tonight “Dunblane: Our Story.” A sad day for those who survived.

J-Kath Says:

@ Margot

Yes, so awful….some of us had to be reminded (at least I did) – but Andy and family and many other families will be mourning…to-day, tonight….and so sad.

chrisford1 Says:

A gathering of the 3 true greats at their sports, yesterday:

Kobe and Nole have known each other for about a decade, talk Italian, go out on the town together. A couple years back Lakers invited Djokovic to show his stretching routine and practice with the team a session.
Like many Serbs, Djokovic was a huge Laker fan growing up. Kobe has gone to a few of Noles matches. Alex has bumped into Djokovic off and on when he was dating Maria Kirilenko (aka ‘The Better Looking Maria’). Maria moved on got married, had a child recently. But Maria and Alex were a perfect ‘Beauty and the Beast’ couple.

Don’t know if Djokovic did intros to the two, but Alex has to be happy with the reception he got.
Bryant gave Alex a signed Jersey and signed Kobe shoes each dedicated to “Alex, best hockey player ever”.

An Ovechkin fan wrote: “The Djoker, The Black Mamba, & The Russian Assassin. Three in one pic. And each is all about heart, class, talent in their own unique ways.”

chrisford1 Says:

Hard to see what is in the Murray family’s hearts and heads about the Dunblane obscenity. They might be affected by calendar “milestones”, they might also wish to push it aside and not dwell on it forever. Andy is forced to answer questions about it as part of his job, but may not want to.

I sometimes wonder if being confronted as brutally as they were as kids about their own mortality made Djokovic and Andy better players and people.

Wog Boy Says:

Sean, somebody visited LA Lakers game last night and was greeted nicely, had the chat with Kobe Bryant, Alex Ovechkin and others, I am just saying it, since I know you love to open new threads when somebody else visits places of interest like Academy awards, LA Lakers matches and so on.
Since I am good man I’ll give you the link, you probably missed it otherwise you would open the thread, no?

J-Kath Says:


I think you have a point….both knew hardship…probably both very grateful for what they have as well as a deeper understanding of tragedy and suffering.

Wog Boy Says:

Sorry CF1, I didn’t read the thread before I posted, silly me, you already posted the link:(

chrisford1 Says:

Wog -It’s cruel, but him and Kirilenko were an awesome beauty and the beast couple.

Alex and Maria go to Disneyworld:
She is smokin’, smokin’! Now a mommy but has it all over the 2nd Russian Maria.
Happy MOmmy with baby boy:

After you washing eyes out, by way of atonement, here’s a link to 20 pics of Kirilenko without Ovechkin:

And turns out Novak and Alex go back a bit

And perhaps Serena has found the key to looking willowy feminine and hot. Just hang with Alexander.

This, BTW, has been a Wog Boy inspired sidetrip to show another NOle-ALex pic and lots of Kirilenko pics….who you might guess is the gal player that was at the top of my eye candy list until she left to get hitched. I should add Maria moved with grace and perfect body posture..and unlike Sharapova, was a quiet player and very social with staff, other Tour players.

Wog Boy Says:

Thanks for those pictures CF1, she is beautiful and brunette too:)

Serena looks much slimmer on that photo than usual, and attractive.

Ovechkin looks like that huge American actor that was always playing bad guys, Arnolds predecessor, I think he died, can’t think of his name, actually I never knew his name.

AndyMira Says:

Hey Pauly..did you know that rafa will play doubles with verdasco?

Pauly Says:


Rafa is friends with all Spanish players

AndyMira Says:

I know Pauly..i also know why he do’s just that..the risk of getting injured and burned out and tired is very high..he’s not injured for a long time now and don’t forget,from now till wimbledon it’s going to be a non stop tennis..if you look closely now..everytime he dueled with his opponent,he’s the one who came out breathless and he also said so many times that he feel more tired these days than he used to..i don’t know the idea of playing doubles is a smart one or not..

Pauly Says:


This tournament is so important for Nadal
If he can play well it will give him big boost in confidence for the clay season
Fingers crossed but playing doubles isn’t important

AndyMira Says:

Yes Pauly..if i didn’t witnessed that he still can produce a stunning tennis like he displayed late last year..i wouldn’t dare to hope..let’s hope he can do well here..

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