Check out the Indian Wells men's draw here.
Top seed Novak Djokovic has a very manageable draw. His 2nd round match, as with the other three players in the top four, should be an easy one. Then in the 3rd round he will most likely play big South African Kevin Anderson, who triumphed at Delray Beach last week after claiming defeats of Andy Roddick and John Isner along the way. That could be a tough match for Djokovic, but I doubt it. In the 4th round the Serb could play Florian Mayer or Richard Gasquet, both beatable. The quarters is where it gets interesting for the World #1, where he might play Tomas Berdych. That would be a difficult match but with Tomas being as inconsistent as he is, I truly cannot see Djokovic losing that one. In the semis he will, on paper, play #4 seed Andy Murray, who took out Djokovic in Dubai last week. I could see that one going either way in all honesty - the Indian Wells courts suit Djokovic really well but Murray may have a psychological advantage knowing he has taken 4 sets off Djokovic already this year.
The Scot will very likely meet Djokovic's countryman Viktor Troicki in the 3rd round. All signs point to Murray in that one but we should not forget the French Open last year where Andy came so close to losing to Troicki, where he was down two sets to none. The 4th round contains a potential match with Stan Wawrinka or Gilles Simon, neither of which should trouble him (though should and would are two very different things). If all goes to plan, a very enticing quarterfinal match awaits, either against big John Isner or Mardy Fish. If he plays Mardy then I am sure he will win but Isner may not be as easy with his massive serve and the slow, high-bouncing court. Should he make it to the semis, which looks likely, then as aforementioned we will see a rematch of the Australian Open and Dubai semifinals.
After facing either Denis Kudla or Dmitry Tursunov in his opening match, Roger has a very difficult draw, at least on paper. A much anticipated 3rd round match looms against Canadian Milos Raonic, and it would be the first time the pair has met. If Fed can play as well as he has on his 9-match winning streak, he should win, but the Canadian is very dangerous. Still however, I could see it playing out like Roger's match against Ryan Harrison last year - close, but the more experienced Fed gets it done in the end. Moving on, in the 4th round, a likely match against Gael Monfils or Jurgen Melzer awaits. Roger holds a combined 9-2 record against them both and if he is on, he should have no trouble dispatching either one. The quarterfinals is where it gets really interesting, where the Swiss Maestro could play David Ferrer or yet again, Juan Martin del Potro. The good news for Roger is that he holds a combined 22-2 record against both Ferrer and Delpo, but he must be careful, especially if he plays the Argentine, since the slower courts really suit his game. Ferrer is a guy that will never truly challenge Fed because he doesn't have the weapons to do so, but David is on a roll this season, amassing a 18-1 record with two titles. Another factor is that Ferrer and del Potro will likely meet in the 4th round, and they could very well beat each other up so much that it will leave the winner ripe for the Fed Express. If Fed gets by his first 4 matches, he has a potential meeting with Rafael Nadal, which would be their 28th pro meeting. A match against Nadal is tough no matter where it is, but it will be for absolute certainty this time around with the slow playing conditions that favour Rafa's game.
As usual, Rafa has a pretty easy draw. He will likely play lefty Alejandro Falla in the 2nd round and then Jarkko Nieminen in the 3rd. Rafa loves playing left-handed players and those two matches would be a great way for him to get back into the ease of playing matches again. Nieminen is far more likely to give him trouble than Falla, and he has some firepower, but don't expect him to challenge Rafa in any way. In the 4th round, Rafa may meet, oh look, another lefty, Feliciano Lopez, whom Nadal has tremendous success against. The quarters could potentially be his first real test in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That will be a tough match for Rafa and will push him to his limits with the big-hitting and serving ability of the Frenchman.
Potential early round matches:
Tsonga/Llodra or Gulbis
Federer/Monfils or Melzer
Murray/Wawrinka or Simon
Berdych or Roddick vs Almagro or Nishikori
I am on the fence on whether or not this will be a successful tournament for Roger. He has not even made the final since 2006 (as with Miami) and the court surface definitely doesn't help matters. However, with his improved defensive abilities, the slower courts could help also, and his baseline game could stay in riveting form and give him the chance to win the title on the final day. It's tough to call what might happen. I don't have winning expectations for Roger based on the results from the past five events at Indian Wells, but I do know that confidence is a magnificent beast, and when he is feeling good, the sky is the limit. Right now, he is feeling VERY good, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a result for him that is different to last year, or the years before that.
Djokovic vs Berdych - Djokovic
Murray vs Isner - Murray
Federer vs del Potro (yet again!) - Federer
Nadal vs Tsonga - Tsonga
Djokovic vs Murray - Murray
Federer vs Tsonga - Federer
Murray vs Federer
Am I being a bit of a fan by choosing Fed to win? Perhaps. But I do know what Roger is capable of when confident, and even though the courts don't ideally suit him, he does say he enjoys playing on them, so take that for what it's worth.
"I've had some great finals, big matches, and I always enjoy playing at Indian Wells. The surface really suits my game, my slice stays low, the kick goes up and the ball travels quickly through the air."He also said that the Dubai win was fantastic and that he didn't expect it.
"I didn't expect to win in Dubai to be quite honest, I had a lot on my plate with the Davis Cup and Rotterdam. Dubai has always been the type of tournament where you play really well or not play well. It can be over really quickly. The first couple rounds were big for me and I ended up playing a great semis and a great final and really well in difficult conditions. I came out of Dubai feeling better than I felt at the end of Rotterdam."
Take those quotes to mean whatever you think. All I know is that the Maestro is himself again.
Hope to see a fantastic week of tennis in Indian Wells!