Novak Djokovic Faces Tricky Draw As Federer Bids To Keep His No.1 Spot In Indian Wells
Five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic has been handed a tough draw ahead of his return to the tour.
The former world No.1 is set to play in his first tournament since the Australian Open. He recently underwent minor surgery in Switzerland to treat an ongoing elbow injury that has hampered him in recent months. Leading up to the BNP Paribas Open, Djokovic had a brief training stint in Las Vegas with coach Andre Agassi before travelling to California.
— Vanni Gibertini (@vgibertini) March 6, 2018
In this year’s draw at the BNP Paribas Open, the Serbian will start his campaign against a yet to be confirmed qualifier. It isn’t until the third round where 10th seed Djokovic could face danger. His route to a sixth title could involve meetings with Kei Nishikori, Mexican Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and second seed Marin Cilic prior to the semifinals.
Novak Djokovic has won here five (FIVE!) times. Here's his path to the title:
1R – Bye
2R – Qualifier
3R – Nishikori
4R – Del Potro
QF – Cilic
SF – Zverev (Sock)
F – Federer (Dimitrov) #BNPPO18 pic.twitter.com/vJxkrtNQQe
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 6, 2018
Djokovic has a strong record at Indian Wells, which is the first Masters 1000 event of the year. Since 2007, he he reached the fourth round or better every year. He and Roger Federer are the most successful players (in term of trophies) in the tournament’s history.
Top seed Federer has his No.1 ranking on the line. Despite the absence of Rafael Nadal due to injury, the reigning champion has 1000 points to defend. Meaning the he is required to reach at least the semifinals to hold his position. In his section of the draw, the 36-year-old will face no player seeded higher than 16th until at least the quarter-finals. His first opponent will be either Ryan Harrison or Federico Delbonis.
Elsewhere in the draw, Nick Kyrgios will return to action for the first time since suffering an elbow injury in January. The Australian, who reached the quarter-finals last year, will open up against either Steve Johnson or Daniil Medvedev. March is a crucial month for Kyrgios’ ranking given the amount of points he will be defending. Besides Indian Wells, he also reached the semifinals of the Miami Masters in 2017.
Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev make up the top four seeds this year. Despite their seeding, only one of the trio have reached the last eight in Indian Wells before. Cilic was a quarter-finalist in 2016. Meanwhile Dimitrov is yet to get beyond the third round and Zverev reached the fourth round two years ago.