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ATP Indian Wells draw preview, predictions and tips - Djokovic and Federer could face early round tests as the pair chase sixth Indian Wells title

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 6 Mar 2019
  • ATP Indian Wells draw preview
  • Djokovic and Federer on course for early round challenges against Kyrgios and Wawrinka respectively
  • Federer drawn in same half as Nadal
Novak Djokovic (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer target record sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters titles as the first Masters 1000 tournament of 2019 gets underway from Thursday March 7.

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World No. 1 Djokovic is set to play his first tournament since winning the Australian Open at the start of the year, while Federer is aiming to kick on from securing his 100th career title in Dubai last week? Could we see a third Indian Wells final between the two legends?

There’s plenty of potential banana skins for both players, including Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios, who is on course for a third round clash with Djokovic, while Federer has been drawn into the same half as three-time champion and second seed Rafael Nadal - and he could also face three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round.

We are set for another pulsating edition of the Indian Wells Masters, live from ‘Tennis Paradise’ in the Californian desert - who emerges triumphant with the silverware? Read on below as we break down the draw and predict the winner!

First quarter

Projected quarter-final: Novak Djokovic (1) vs Dominic Thiem (7) - H2H: Djokovic leads 5-2

One of the top eight seeds was guaranteed to draw Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios in the third round - and that man was five-time Indian Wells champion Djokovic when the draw was released on Tuesday. Competing in his first tournament since lifting a seventh Australian Open title in January, Djokovic will have no time to ease his way into the tournament, facing a qualifier in the second round after a first-up bye, before a potential third round showdown with Kyrgios, who’s confidence is sky-high after beating Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev to win the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel last week.

Nick Kyrgios (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Kyrgios will have to make it past the winner of Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert to earn an almost-certain shot at Djokovic, but if he does, the Australian will fancy his chances of claiming the upset - he did after all beat Djokovic back-to-back in Acapulco and Indian Wells in 2017, and in his current form, it could end up being a 50-50 match-up. Rotterdam champion Gael Monfils also lurks in this section, but he’s 1-15 against Djokovic and wouldn’t welcome that match-up, while seventh seed Dominic Thiem has endured a tough start to the season, battling illness and poor form. Borna Coric (11) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (17) could meet in the third round - and the winner of that match could make it all the way to the quarter-finals, given their mini-section with Thiem. It’s an intriguing section, but you’ve got to say the winner of Djokovic vs Kyrgios is the favourite for the semis.

Predicted semi-finalist: Djokovic

Second quarter

Projected quarter-final: Alexander Zverev (3) vs Kevin Anderson (5) - H2H: Zverev leads 4-0

This match-up is quickly becoming like the Anderson vs Tomas Berdych match-up for the South African as he trails 0-4 against Zverev in their head-to-head, including four matches on hardcourts. However, Anderson will do well to even make the quarter-finals at Indian Wells after battling an elbow injury this season, a problem which contributed to his Australian Open second round loss to Frances Tiafoe and caused him to pull out of New York and Acapulco. Anderson has a pretty comfortable draw to ease his way into the tournament, but a fourth round clash against possibly Stefanos Tsitsipas or Roberto Bautista Agut could spell his demise.

Alexander Zverev (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Tsitsipas and Bautista Agut are in line for an Australian Open quarter-final rematch in the third round, and I think the winner of that match will make the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Zverev might meet his elder brother Mischa in his opening match (or the dangerous Martin Klizan), with 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov potentially waiting in the third round - before another possible Australian Open rematch against Milos Raonic in the Round of 16. I must admit, a Zverev vs Tsitsipas quarter-final would be very interesting, but I see Bautista Agut beating the Greek and Zverev battling his way past Dimitrov and maybe Raonic before taking out the Spaniard to reach the semi-finals.

Predicted semi-finalist: Zverev

Third quarter

Projected quarter-final: Roger Federer (4) vs Kei Nishikori (6) - H2H: Federer leads 7-3

On the back of winning his 100th singles title in Dubai last week, can Federer continue his momentum into Indian Wells? The Swiss has made the final in five of the last seven years and is a joint-record champion with Djokovic, finishing runner-up to Juan Martin del Potro last year. Federer started very slowly in Dubai and was forced into multiple three-setters against players he’d normally routine, but he did lift his level for the semi-finals and final, where he avenged his Australian Open loss to Tsitsipas.

Roger Federer (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

Federer takes on the winner of Andreas Seppi or Peter Gojowczyk in his first match before a third round duel with the in-form Marton Fucsovics (who pushed him in Dubai) or Stan Wawrinka, who is slowly regaining his best tennis and is coming off a quarter-final in Acapulco, where he was close to defeating eventual champion Kyrgios. Federer has a great record against his compatriot though, and I’d expect him to come through that match if it does eventuate - and following that, the rest of his quarter is fairly comfortable for him, with the likes of Marin Cilic (10), Denis Shapovalov (24), Lucas Pouille (28) or Kei Nishikori (6) potential quarter-final rivals. Nishikori has been extremely consistent for the last six months and did beat Federer at the ATP Finals, but I can’t see the Japanese repeating that in Indian Wells. If he survives a potential clash with Wawrinka, Federer should be advancing to the final four.

Predicted semi-finalist: Federer

Fourth quarter

Projected quarter-final: Rafael Nadal (2) vs John Isner (8) - H2H: Nadal leads 7-0

Nadal will be determined to bounce back from his shock loss to Kyrgios in Acapulco this week in Indian Wells - and he has a pretty decent draw to do just that. Either a qualifier or Jared Donaldson will be Nadal’s first opponent, while his seeded third round rival is Diego Schwartzman, who has troubled the Spaniard before but doesn’t really have the necessary weapons to go on with the job when push comes to shove. Eighth seed Isner is always a dangerous customer - and has proved himself at Masters 1000 level after winning Miami last year, but Nadal has beaten him in all seven of their previous meetings, and for a quarter-final opponent, it’s someone the second seed would take in a heartbeat.

Rafael Nadal (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The only player I can see preventing Nadal reaching the semi-finals is Daniil Medvedev, the 14th seeded Russian who has started the season with a bang, winning the title in Sofia, finishing runner-up in Brisbane and making the fourth round of the Australian Open, where he took a set off Djokovic - something Nadal couldn’t manage in the final. Medvedev and Nadal could clash in the fourth round, but the Russian still has just one top 10 win (over an injured Wawrinka in 2017) and still hasn’t proved he can defeat the very best on the big stages. Until that happens, you’ve got to side with Nadal…

Predicted semi-finalist: Nadal

Really gone out on a limb there by picking the top four seeds….


Djokovic def. Zverev
Nadal def. Federer


Djokovic def. Nadal


The 2019 ATP Indian Wells Masters is live between March 4-17. ATP main draw action begins on Thursday March 7. 

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ATP Indian Wells draw preview, predictions and tips - Djokovic and Federer could face early round tests as the pair chase sixth Indian Wells title

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer target record sixth ATP Indian Wells Masters titles as the first Masters 1000 tournament of 2019 gets underway from Thursday March 7.

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