First up at Indian Wells is world No. 1 Novak Djokovic against eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The pair have had some memorable clashes since they first met in the final of the Australian Open back in 2008.
Most notable recently was their five-set thriller in the quarterfinals of the French Open last year when Djokovic came out on top. Indeed, the Serbian has won the last seven meetings with the charismatic Frenchman.
After breezing through the first set without dropping a game in the last round, Djokovic was forced to work harder in the second before disposing of Sam Querrey in the early hours of Thursday morning. Tsonga, meanwhile, looked in big trouble in his fourth round match against Milos Raonic, having lost the first set and struggling with a knee injury. But Tsonga recovered to pull out the win in three.
The day’s other men’s quarterfinal also promises much as Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Portro faceoff. Both players have one Grand Slam title to their name, won at the US Open. Del Potro, the seventh seed, is still looking to get back to the level that saw him claim the tile at Flushing Meadows in 2009 but has sailed through the draw at Indian Wells. In the last round, the Argentinian beat German veteran Tommy Haas for the loss of just three games.
After some initial rustiness having not played since the Australian Open, Murray has also moved through the draw fairly comfortably. The British third seed, who can move up to second place in the rankings if he reaches the final here, has won all four of his meetings with Del Potro on hard courts.
On Friday evening, both women’s semifinals will take place. Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki were both given a free passage into the last four on Thursday after their respective quarterfinal opponents, Samantha Stosur and Victoria Azarenka, withdrew through injury.
Kerber, the fourth seed, is likely to be greatly relieved to have made her second straight semifinal at Indian Wells having lost her opening match at her last two events. The German should be confident of going even further having won her last three encounters with former world No. 1 Wozniacki.
In the other semifinal Maria Sharapova will look to reach the final for the second straight year as she takes on fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova won both the pair’s meetings last year, one of which was in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells.
Kirilenko has upset both Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova en route to the last four and should be fully battle hardened having won all her four matches in four sets.
Where to watch: Friday’s singles action at Indian Wells begins at 4.30 p.m. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.