The world No. 1 has won both his previous tournaments this season, but had to endure a brief wobble before defeating Italian Fabio Fognini in three sets in his opening match at the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.
Djokovic will hope for smoother progress against the talented Bulgarian. Dimitrov has been tipped to make a breakthrough to the higher echelons of the men’s game for some time, but he has struggled against the game’s elite—failing to win a set in his last seven encounters against top 10 opponents.
Djokovic and Dimitrov met for the only time in Shanghai late last year with the Serbian winning in two comfortable sets.
The man Djokovic bested in Australia will also be in action on Tuesday. Andy Murray was staring down the barrel of a third straight loss at the second round stage in Indian Wells when he conceded the opening set to Evgeny Donskoy on Sunday before pulling though to take the last two sets.
In the third round Murray meets the man who knocked him out in the first round of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Yen-Hsun Lu. The pair have not met since then and the Scot will expect to put that loss behind him against the world 79 as he seeks to work his way into form having not played since the Australian Open.
That layoff is minimal compared to American Mardy Fish, who is playing in his first event since last year’s US Open. The American came through in three sets in his comeback against Bobby Reynolds but faces a much stiffer test when he takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The French eight seed has won all three of the pair’s previous meetings.
On the women’s side, the top two seeds, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, should encounter few problems in their fourth round encounters with Urszula Radwanska and Lara Arruabarrena, respectively.
There are a trio of matches between leading seeds that promise to be far more competitive. Champion in 2011 Caroline Wozniacki is likely to be tested against 10th seeded Russian Nadia Petrova. While the Dane leads 4-2 in their head-to-heads, Petrova dismantled Wozniacki for the loss of just three games the last time the pair met in the final of Sofia last year.
Fourth seeded Agnieszka Radwanska may not have things all her own way, but should still progress against Maria Kirilenko. Five of their eight previous matches have gone the distance, although Radwanska has won the last five against the 13th seed.
The last-16 matchup between Marion Bartoli and Sara Errani may be the hardest of all to call. Bartoli has performed well in reaching this stage of the tournament, but Errani has most wins this year on the WTA Tour and has been victorious in the last two encounters with her ninth seeded opponent.
Where to watch: Tuesday’s play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will begin at 2 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Tennis Channel, with a live stream available on ESPN3.