Indian Wells 2019: Roger Federer's projected route-to-final; Nadal showdown looms
After becoming a tennis centurion in Dubai with his 100th ATP title by beating next generation star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, Roger Federer now has his sights firmly set on No. 101.
As the tennis calendar is so relentless, perhaps more so than any other sport, it comes as no surprise that the Swiss Maestro's next challenge is already upon him.
The Indian Wells tournament, located in California, is a Masters 1000 tournament and ranks as one of the most important stops in the calendar for tennis pros. Having won there a record-sharing 5 times (tied with Novak Djokovic), Federer is no stranger to experiencing success at the tournament.
Nevertheless, a new year presents new problems, and now that the draw has been revealed for the 2019 edition of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 tournament, we can speculate what the most likely route for Federer will have to take to win a record 6th title.
The draw of a tennis tournament is based on rankings to ensure that the higher ranked players face each other in the later stages of the tournaments. Due to this, we can see who Federer is likely to play in each round, provided he and his project opponents win their respective matches.
Because of his ranking, he, like other top players, gets a free pass through the first round, meaning his first match will be in the second round.
Below is a look at what his projected route is:
First Round - Bye
Second Round - Andreas Seppi
Third Round - Marton Fucsovics
Fourth Round - Fabio Fognini
Quarter Final - Kei Nishikori
Semi Final - Rafael Nadal
Final - Novak Djokovic
Whilst the early rounds look like fairly comfortable challenges for Federer if he brings his A-game, it is from the quarterfinals onward where things begin to heat up.
Federer will likely have to face Nishikori in the quarter-finals who could prove to be a tough task. Nevertheless, if their past encounters are to go by, it seems the odds are in Federer's favour.
Whilst Nishikori is good, the prospect of facing Nadal in the semi-finals and Djokovic in the finals is a daunting prospect. Although Nadal's form has been questionable this year despite reaching the Australian Open final, he is sure to play his best against Federer in a contest that everyone will be eager to see.
Assuming Federer beats Nadal, he will most probably play the in-form player, Novak Djokovic in the final. To add another element to the contest, both Djokovic and Federer both sit on 5 titles each.
Whilst one can look at this projected route as pretty likely to occur, it must be remembered that anything can happen in tennis. One thing is sure, however, if Federer is to win a record 6th title, he will have to be consistently at his very best throughout the tournament.