After a weekend of pulsating and closely contested Davis Cup matches (by BNP Paribas) the tour resumes with the first of twin ATP 1000 events in the desert of Indian Wells, California; a tournament played over 11 days and having 96 players in the men’s draw. This will be followed by another ATP 1000 event in Miami, Florida which also takes 11 days just before the start of the European clay court season.
Arch-rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won ATP tournaments in Dubai and Buenos Aires the week before the Davis Cup and both are placed in the bottom half of the draw and seeded to meet in the semi-finals. Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Andy Murray in what would be a repeat of the Australian Open final in Melbourne. The 96 player draw has the 32 seeded players having a bye in the first round and it would require them to win six matches in order to lift the trophy. The top three have won here 10 of the last 11 years; Federer winning in 2004,2005,2006 and 2012, Djokovic in 2008,2011 and 2014 while Nadal won in 2007,2009 and 2013 while the now retired Ivo Karlovic was the winner in 2010.
Djokovic won his fourth Australian Open title and also helped Serbia whitewash a depleted Croatia 5-0 in the Davis Cup first round at home; has a tricky second round match against the 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. He is 14-2 this year and could run into the 8th seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals. Ferrer has won a tour best three titles in 2015 (Doha, Rio De Janeiro and Acapulco) and also boasts a 18-1 start to the year, will have to get the better of the US Open champion Marin Cillic of Croatia who will be playing his first match in 2015 as he was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Federer who won in Brisbane and Dubai has a 11-1 year to date record would have a chance to avenge his only loss of the year in the third round of the Australian Open to the 30th seed Italian Andreas Seppi again in the round of 32. He will play the winner of the match between the 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist Jersy Janowicz and Diego Schwartzman in the second round. He could play Roberto Bautista Agut in the round of 16 before a potential quarter-final match up against fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka. He has a 47-10 career mark at Indiam Wells and is only 3 matches shy of being the only player to reach the 50 match win mark here.
Nadal finally won his first title of the year in Buenos Aires has three Frenchmen in his section of the draw is drawn to face Milos Raonic of Canada in the quarter-finals. Andy Murray who led Great Britain to a 3-2 first round Davis Cup win over USA in as many years has never won in Indian Wells with a 2009 runner up showing loosing to Nadal will play another Davis Cup hero Vasek Pospisil who starred in Canada’s win over Japan. Murray has drawn fifth ranked Kei Nishikori who is just 10 points behind him. The Dunblane native stands a good chance winnning here and in Miami where he has been a winner in 2009 and 2013.
The headline of day one was the return of American Mardy Fish who played his first match in 19 months as he was sidelined due to a heart condition and severe anxiety disorder could not convert two match points against Californian Ryan Harrison as he went down in the third set tie-breaker.
Apart from Baghdatis and Harrison there were wins for Spaniards Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Argentines Frederico Delbonis and Juan Monaco, Austria’s veteran left hander Jurgen Melzer once ranked in the top 10, Croatians Borna Coric and Ivam Dodig, Australians James Duckworth and teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis , Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, Frenchmen Adrien Mannarino and Eduardo Roger-Vasselin, Finland’s Jarko Nieminen and American Tim Smyczek. Kokkinakis replaced former 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina who had a wildcard into this event.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]