Last year, Rafael Nadal won the men’s singles title at the BNP Paribas Open. In 2014, though, he’ll have an extremely tough road towards a repeat. There’s a chance that the top ranked player in the world will have to face the biggest names in tennis in the tournament.
Andy Murray could be the first of Nadal’s elite competition. The draw has both men in the top quarter of the bracket. If the two meet, it will be in the quarterfinals.
After getting by the winner of 2013 Wimbledon, Nadal could go head-to-head with his archrival in the semifinals. Roger Federer has been positioned in the second quarter of the draw. Ranked No.8 in the world, Federer is not the dominant player that he once was, having won just one grand slam title in the past three years. No longer dealing with a back injury, though, Federer could be ready to make a run at Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he’s won four championships.
The tournament is set up for Nadal to face Novak Djokovic, immediately following with matches against Murray and Federer. If the top two players in the world meet in the finals, it would mark their 40th ever matchup. Djokovic got the better of Nadal early on, going 10-6 in their first 16 meetings. Lately, though, Nadal has had the Serb’s number, winning six of nine. Last year, Nadal defeated his adversary at the French Open and in the U.S. Open final.
Nadal will begin his title defense against Radek Stepanek. The Czech is ranked 50th in the world and defeated Denis Istominon Thursday.