Indian Wells is widely considered the fifth grand slam of the year (Miami also in the conversation) and for good reason.
In what is the first Masters Series 1000 event of the entire ATP season, Indian Wells has a draw size of 96, is owned by one of the richest men on the planet, sports video replay on every court, and is met with equal anticipation by players and fans alike. In addition, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is one of the most aesthetically pleasing venues in all of tennis.
A fun fact to keep in mind for some future tennis trivia is that stadium court at Indian Wells is the second largest tennis specific stadium in the world.
This year, Indian Wells has increased significance as it marks the reunion of the big four. It is the first time since Wimbledon 2012 that the big four will be entered in the same tournament.
A lot has happened since these four men last converged upon the hallowed grounds of the All-England Club. Roger Federer broke Pete Sampras's record for most weeks at number one, Andy Murray won the Olympics and his inaugural slam, Jerzy Janowicz momentarily had the tennis world at a standstill, David Ferrer won his first Masters Series 1000 event, and Novak Djokovic won his third consecutive Australian Open and has yet to lose a match in 2013 (unless you’re counting his loss to Tomic in the Hopman Cup which surely only Tomic is).
For this tournament and all Masters Series 1000 events in the future, I will provide intriguing early round matchups to watch, quarter by quarter previews and predictions and in depth match by previews and predictions each day. For the first three rounds, I will pick three or four matches each day and preview and predict each one. In addition, I will preview and predict every single match from the Round of 16 onwards.
Prize Pool: $5,030,408
Ranking Points: 1,000
Top Eight Seeds: 1. Novak Djokovic (Serbia), 2. Roger Federer (Switzerland), 3. Andy Murray (Great Britain), 4. David Ferrer (Spain), 5. Rafael Nadal (Spain), 6. Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic), 7. Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina), 8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France)
Early Round Matches to Watch:
2nd Round: (these are possible matchups except a few where the first round has already been played): Querrey-Karlovic, Llodra-Raonic, Tsonga-Blake, Del-Potro-Davydenko, Nadal-Harrison, Tipsarevic-Gulbis, Isner-Hewitt, Ferrer-Anderson, Paire-Kohlschreiber, Tomic-Gasquet, Janowicz-Nalbandian
3rd Round: Janowicz-Gasquet, Kohlschreiber-Simon, Benneteau-Federer, Almagro-Haas, Raonic-Cilic, Djokovic-Dimitrov
Quarter by Quarter Preview and Predictions (Up Until the Quarterfinals)
Novak Djokovic's Quarter- Novak Djokovic should feel very comfortable with his section of the draw. His first test should come from the young Bulgarian uprise, Grigor Dimitrov, who has beaten the likes of Tomic, Raonic, and Baghdatis in 2013. These are three victories that have aided Dimitrov’s ascent to a career high ranking of 31 in the world obtained this past Monday. Juan Monaco, who has had a rough start to 2013, is also in this section of the draw and is looking for his first main draw win of 2013. In his way could be Sam Querrey, but don't be surprised if Ivo Karlovic disrupts the progression of seeds in this quarter. To add to the list of big servers in this quarter, Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic, Mardy Fish, and Jo-Wilfired Tsonga are in the bottom half of this quarter. Mardy Fish is playing his first tournament back since the 2012 U.S. Open where he was forced to withdraw before his fourth round encounter with Roger Federer. All of these big servers will have their work cut out for them if they want to power their way through the best returner in the men’s game.
Quarterfinal Matchup- Novak Djokovic v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Roger Federer’s Quarter- This is definitely the most intriguing quarter of the draw with tons of upsets waiting to happen. Of course, the most appealing part of this quarter is the possibility of a Federer-Nadal quarterfinal. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have never met in the quarterfinal of any tournament in their 28 previous meetings. Rafael Nadal will play his first hard court match since returning against struggling American, Ryan Harrison. Janko Tipsarevic, loser of three straight matches, takes on the flaming hot Ernests Gulbis in the second round. The Latvian is currently on a 11 match winning streak. Gulbis could face Daniel Brands, who has qualified for all five tournaments he’s entered this year, in the third round. John Isner’s woes could very well continue as he takes on a very viable returner in Lleyton Hewitt in the second round. Roger Federer takes on Denis Istomin in the second round and could face one of the few players who have recorded two victories over him that being the electric Frenchman, Julien Benneteau. Benneteau most recently took out Federer in the quarterfinals of Rotterdam in straight sets. Stanislas Wawrinka is also in this section in the draw and will be looking to obtain a bit of revenge on Federer from their quarterfinal match in Shanghai last fall. Some wild things could happen in this draw, so be ready for just about anything. But in the end, expect greatness to prevail.
Quarterfinal Matchup- Roger Federer v. Rafael Nadal
Andy Murray’s Quarter- Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro were poised for an epic clash in the Australian Open Quarterfinals but Jeremy Chardy had other plans. Don’t look now, but Jeremy Chardy and Juan Martin Del Potro could be facing each other in the third round yet again. Andy Murray’s first real likely challenge would come in the first round against the surging Kei Nishikori. Tennis fans would not be disappointed to see the clash of two of the most beautiful one-handed backhands the tennis world has to offer if Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro square off. Murray’s draw should allow him to comfortably work his way back into the swing of things after having taken over a month off since the Australian Open.
Quarterfinal Matchup- Andy Murray v. Juan Martin Del Potro
David Ferrer’s Quarter- David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych are in the quarter of flare and eccentricity. From the histrionics of Nalbandian to the antics of Tomic and the mystique of Paire, this quarter is definitely one to keep your eye on. Janowicz-Nalbandian, Gasquet-Tomic, and Anderson-Ferrer are all wonderful second round matches in this quarter of the draw. Janowicz, Nalbandian, Tomic, or Gasquet will certainly provide Tomas Berdych with a formidable test to the quarterfinals. At this point, I’d say any of the four could advance to the fourth round. If Anderson doesn’t get through Ferrer, I would definitely pencil in the Spaniard for the quarterfinal. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Gilles Simon, and Fernando Verdasco are also in this section of the draw and could definitely pose as a threat to David Ferrer.
Quarterfinal Prediction- David Ferrer v. Tomas Berdych
Dark Horses- Tomic, Janowicz, Benneteau, Gulbis, Brands, Chardy