Nadal Federer Set for Semifinal Showdown

This year, there will be no Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer quarterfinal at the BNP Paribas Open. A year after the two former champions clashed in the last eight, Nadal and Federer were drawn into the same half of the draw, meaning they could meet in the semifinals.

Three-time and defending champion Nadal is the top seed at the tournament where two-time winner Novak Djokovic is the No. 2 seed, landing him on the bottom half of the draw where he is joined by Czech Tomas Berdych.

Fans are in for two weeks of spell-binding tennis as the top seeds and the best in the world battle for the prestigious Masters 1000 crown. Nadal could face three-time major champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Federer, meanwhile, could get countryman and reigning Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka in his quarterfinal.

In the bottom half, Berdych has a potential meeting with Richard Gasquet in the last eight while Djokovic is meant to face Juan Martin Del Potro, the Argentine who beat him here a year ago.

What to Watch For
Nadal will look to defend his title with potential match-ups against Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round and Fabio Fognini orGael Monfils in round four. A showdown with Murray is a possibility in the quarterfinals, though the Briton has struggled here in the past at times.

Murray is slated to get Pablo Andujar in the third round, then either Milos Raonic, the No. 10 seed, or 18th seed Jerzy Janowiczshould the seeds hold.

In the lower portion of the top half of the draw, Wawrinka and Federer’s collision course could be interrupted by Tommy Haas, who is slated to play Federer in the fourth round. Otherwise, seeds Andreas SeppiMikhail YouzhnyKei Nishikori and Dmitry Tursunov will try to play spoiler in that part of the draw.

On the bottom half of the draw 2012 finalist John Isner will look to re-capture some desert magic with a fourth-round match against the No. 8 see Gasquet. That is Berdych’s quarter of the draw, which also includes up-and-comers Grigor Dimitrov andErnests Gulbis, both who have won tournaments in the lead-up to Indian Wells.

Djokovic anchors that bottom portion, perhaps stopped only by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga if the Frenchman can upset Del Potro in round four. Del Potro has been struggling with a wrist injury and first could be tested by Feliciano Lopez in the second round or 25th seedVasek Pospisil in the round of 32.

Early Clashes
A handful of first-round matches are must-watch affair, including the battle between Radek Stepanek and Denis Istomin, two veterans who will fight to earn the chance to play Nadal in round two.

Americans Tim Smyczek and Jack Sock will also do battle in the first round, the winner taking on Dolgopolov.

An all-Australian battle will take place for two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Lleyton Hewitt and compatriot Matt Ebden, the winner getting No. 17 seed Kevin Anderson.

Another all-American match looms for Michael Russell and Donald Young, the victor playing 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny in round two.

Down the Road
Dimitrov and Gulbis present perhaps the most intriguing third-round potential, the two dynamic youngsters with their own styles and spunk. The two have split their pair of meetings, with Dimitrov having won a three-set thriller just last week in Acapulco.

Isner could resurrect his US Open battles with German Philipp Kohlschreiber, though it’s the 22nd seed who has won both of those meetings. They could meet in the third round.

Others looming include Nishikori, the Japanese No. 1 who could beat Haas in round three in order to earn the right to face Federer. An all-French match-up could happen for Tsonga and No. 21 seed Gilles Simon in round three and Marin Cilic, the big-serving Croatian, is a likely foe for veteran Tommy Robredo in the third round.