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Indian Wells 2017 Draw Analysis: Packed bottom quarter sets up big early clashes

The bottom quarter alone features Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and more.

As we gear up for the first tennis Masters tournament of the year, fans will be in for some blockbuster tennis at Indian Wells. Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro are among some of the big names that have confirmed their participation, and the bottom quarter of the draw this year features all of those players except the World No. 1.

Key Withdrawals: WTA: Serena Williams, who has a knee injury

                               ATP:  Milos Raonic, with hamstring issues

UPDATE: Richard Gasquet has also withdrawn from the tournament. 

Here’s a look at how the draw could play out:

First quarter: Andy Murray has it easy

INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 07:  Andy Murray of Great Britain serves during a practice session on day two of the BNP Paribas Open  at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 7, 2017 in Indian Wells, California.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Andy Murray has the easiest draw so far, and could face Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals

This one all but belongs to Andy Murray. The World No. 1 is right at the top of the draw, and has some strong players in his quarter, among them Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut.

But the only big challenges for Murray in his quarter look to be No. 11 seed David Goffin and seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whom he could meet in the quarter-finals. Both players are on good seasons – Tsonga took the singles title at the ATP250 Marseille Open, soon after winning top honours at Rotterdam – where he beat Goffin in the finals. 

Interestingly, Goffin was in 2016 the first player to beat Andy Murray since the Scot secured his No. 1 ranking; that win came at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. 

With Tsonga’s return to the ATP top 10 – and Goffin’s debut there (the ranking has since dropped), both players will be in strong form. Tsonga progressed to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open this year, losing to Stan Wawrinka, while Belgium’s Goffin lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters. 

Goffin, however, has made two finals already this year, a fact that will bolster him going into Indian Wells.

All in all, there does not appear to be any significant threat to Andy Murray well into the tournament. 

Murray, given a first-round bye, is likely to play Chinese Taipei’s Yen-hsun Lu in his second-round match, a match-up he will be happy with considering that of the four times the pair have squared off in the past, the now World No. 1 has won on three occasions – most recently at Wimbledon last year, with Murray going on to win the title. 

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