Story courtesy ATPWorldTour.com
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are the two most prolific players in the history of the BNP Paribas Open, with the Serbian earning a record five titles and the Swiss star holding the winner’s trophy four times. With Federer riding the high of his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and Djokovic holding an 18-match win streak in the desert, both are looking to continue their dominance in Indian Wells for different reasons.
With a 46-6 career record, World No. 2 Djokovic and Indian Wells have proven to be a perfect match almost from the start. The Serbian finished runner-up in his second attempt in 2007 and has prevailed five times (2008, 2011, 2014-2016). Djokovic has made it to at least the semi-finals every year since 2011.
“Players are very welcomed here,” said Djokovic after winning the title last year. “The spectators are sharing their love and passion for the sport with us, and in that kind of environment you are obviously inspired to play your very best.”
Djokovic is also eyeing two significant milestones in Indian Wells.Two victories this year would see him reach 300 match wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level and also see him join Pete Sampras (762 tour-level wins) in a tie for 10th place in the list of most wins in the Open Era.
Knee surgery last year forced Federer to miss Indian Wells after 15 consecutive main draw appearances in the desert. The Swiss Maestro is 52-11 here, winning four times (2004-2006, 2012) and finishing runner-up twice (2014, 2015). Federer has reached the quarter-finals or better in his past five appearances.
“Just waking up in the morning and seeing the blue skies every time, it’s really nice here,” said Federer in 2004. “The people who are here, they come to the tennis. A lot of people recognise me here. It’s different here somehow than the reactions in Switzerland. So much louder.”
For both players, leaving Indian Wells as the last man standing has been an omen for a fruitful remainder of their season. Federer completed the Indian Wells-Miami double in 2005 and 2006, and finished as year-end No. 1 in three of the years he won Indian Wells (2004-2006). Meanwhile, Djokovic has completed the Indian Wells-Miami double a staggering four times (2011, 2014-2016) and finished as year-end No. 1 in three of the years he prevailed at this event (2011, 2014-2015).
Djokovic just slightly leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Federer 23-22, but their record at Indian Wells is far more one-sided. The World No. 2 has won all three matches they’ve played, emerging victorious in the 2011 semi-finals and 2014 and 2015 finals, but Federer pushed each match to a deciding set. The players have played more than 100 matches at Indian Wells, but it’s their 2014 final that fittingly might be their most memorable match here, with Djokovic taking the title 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).
Federer and Djokovic haven’t faced off since the Serbian prevailed in their 2016 Australian Open semi-final, so a renewal of their historic rivalry at Indian Wells would undoubtedly be a match that fans worldwide would clamour to see.