Men's Singles Draw Produces Blockbuster Match-ups

© 2015 Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open

The BNP Paribas Open men's singles draw was made Tuesday and features a packed bottom quarter, including a potential fourth round match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 

The BNP Paribas Open men’s singles draw was made Tuesday and produced some blockbuster first-week match-ups for the stars of the ATP World Tour.

Andy Murray, the world No. 1, is the top seed and is on the same side of the draw as No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. Novak Djokovic, the world No. 2, anchors the bottom half of the draw with Kei Nishikori seeded to meet him in the semifinals.

But it’s Djokovic’s quarter which has the whole tennis world talking: it includes Rafael Nadal (his seeded quarterfinal opponent), Roger Federer (who could meet Nadal in the fourth round), Juan Martin Del Potro (set to play Djokovic in the third round if their seeds hold), Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios (meant to play in round three), as well as Fernando Verdasco and American Steve Johnson.

To say it’s one of the most loaded sections of a draw in recent memory in men’s tennis would be an accurate statement.

Federer and Nadal met in the Australian Open final in January, the Swiss emerging victorious for a record 18th Grand Slam title. Nadal is the No. 5 seed in Indian Wells with Federer being No. 9 having missed much of the 2016 season. Federer and Nadal’s fourth round clash would be their earliest meeting since the 2004 Miami Open, the first of their 35 career matches. 

Djokovic will have a brutal test against Del Potro in the third round should they make it that far, the three-time defending champion in Indian Wells having beaten the Argentinian just last week in Acapulco in three sets. Del Potro shocked Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics last year.

Shortly before the draw France’s Richard Gasquet, the world No. 19, withdrew due to medical reasons, while 2016 finalist Milos Raonic pulled out Monday due to a right leg injury. 

By seeds, the potential quarterfinals are:
[1] Murray vs. [8] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
[3] Wawrinka vs. [8] Dominic Thiem
[4] Nishikori vs. [6] Marin Cilic
[2] Djokovic vs. [5] Nadal 

Murray is playing in Indian Wells as the world No. 1 for the first time in his career and comes off a title in Dubai. He has never won the title here, and is seeded to play Feliciano Lopez in the third round. 2016 semifinalist David Goffin is set to play Tsonga in the fourth round for the right to play - should they make it that far - Murray.

Wawrinka’s quarter features Thiem, No. 10 Gael Monfils, No. 13 Tomas Berdych and No. 20 John Isner, the American who was a finalist here in 2012. Isner would meet Berdych in the third round if their seeds hold.

The Nishikori-Cilic quarter includes No. 1 American Jack Sock, the No. 17 seed, as well as a red-hot Grigor Dimitrov, seeded No. 12, Lucas Pouille, the No. 14 seed, and Sam Querrey, the American who just won the title in Acapulco with wins over Kyrgios and Nadal.

Both Kyrgios and Nadal are in that whopping bottom quarter, anchored by Djokovic, but also features Kyle Edmund, Kevin Anderson and Federico Delbonis, who stunned Murray here last year. 

Young American wild card Rielly Opelka meets Juan Monaco in the first round, while Memphis champion Ryan Harrison plays Damir Dzumhur, Bjorn Fratangelo plays Bernard Tomic, Taylor Fritz plays Nicolas Mahut and Americans Donald Young and Stefan Kozlov clash.

The ATP men’s singles draw will begin on Thursday, with 12 qualifiers set to be slated into the draw. All 32 top seeds have first round byes. 

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