Indian Wells 2017: 5 matches we'd love to see from the fourth quarter
In what has been described as the toughest draw in the history of a tennis tournament, Indian Wells – or the BNP Paribas Open, the first ATP Masters tournament of the year, will see Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and more top seeds all in the same quarter.
That draw will promise some blockbuster tennis early on in the hard-court tournament.
Here’s a look at 5 matches that we could see in the final quarter alone:
Juan Martin del Potro vs Novak Djokovic
This could take place in Round 3, any upsets notwithstanding. As a result of a last-minute withdrawal by Milos Raonic, Argentine ace Juan Martin del Potro has been seeded at the tournament, albeit on the lower end at 31st – as a result of which he has a first round bye.
Djokovic has won four of the pair’s last 5 outings – with Del Potro’s sole victory, at the first round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, coming in straight sets. Despite Djokovic’s majority wins over his Argentine rival, Del Potro has managed to take a set off the former No. 1 on each occasion.
The pair last met at the pre-quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, Mexico, with Del Potro ending up on the losing side despite having a convincing one-set lead over the Serb.
Interestingly, the last time Del Potro and Djokovic faced off at Indian Wells was at the semi-finals of the tournament in 2013, and it was Del Potro who progressed to the finals, taking the first set of the eventual champion, Rafael Nadal.
Given the bottom-heavy draw this time around, that is not a possibility, but should Del Potro manage to move through to the finals, he could face either Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka – and the latter of the two will be an intriguing contest considering the lengthy, hard-fought quarter-final the two played at the 2016 US Open.
Although the rivalry is heavily slanted in favour of Djokovic at 12-4, Del Potro’s fighting spirit and Djokovic’s recently flagging form could make for an interesting combination – and create some big matches deeper into the draw.