Novak Djokovic against Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer are the potential semi-final clashes in Indian Wells.
Federer, who plays the winner of Russian Dmitry Tursunov and American wild card Denis Kudla in his second-round opener, is up against arguably the trickiest quarter. The section of the draw includes four of the ATP’s top five match wins leader this season - David Ferrer (18), Federer (16), Juan Martin del Potro (16) and Milos Raonic (15).
Federer and Ferrer both come to Indian Wells riding winning streaks, with the Swiss capturing a pair of titles in Rotterdam and Dubai, and the Spaniard claiming back-to-back clay-court crowns the past two weeks in Buenos Aires and Acapulco.
World No. 9 del Potro, a possible fourth-round opponent for Ferrer, recently claimed the Marseille title. The 27th-ranked Raonic, who could face Federer in the third round, has reached the final in three of his four tournament appearances this season, triumphing in Chennai and San Jose.
Nadal plays a South American in his opening match - either Colombian Alejandro Falla or Argentine Leonardo Mayer - and is seeded to meet World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals.
Both Federer and Nadal are looking to reach the final for the fourth time in Indian Wells. Nadal, who holds an 18-9 lead over Federer in the career series, hoisted the trophy in 2007, ’09 and was runner-up last year, while the Swiss won three straight from 2004-06.
While Nadal and Federer have yet to go head-to-head at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, Djokovic and Murray have met once previously in the desert, with the Serbian taking that 2007 semi-final meeting in straight sets.
The pair has already faced off twice in semi-final action this year. The Serbian rallied from two sets to one down to defeat Murray in the Australian Open semi-finals, while the Scot won in straight-sets last week in Dubai, handing Djokovic his first loss of 2012.
World No. 1 Djokovic, who also won the Indian Wells title in 2008, begins his title defence against a qualifier. He could face last week’s Delray Beach champion Kevin Anderson in the third round and former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. Potential quarter-final opponents include World No. 7 Tomas Berdych and American Andy Roddick.
The fourth-seeded Murray, an Indian Wells finalist in 2009, will open against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Rui Machado as he looks to avoid a second-round exit for a second straight year (l. to Young).
His quarter of the draw could also feature a fourth-round showdown between the top two American players, World No. 8 Mardy Fish and No. 11 John Isner. The two Davis Cup teammates led the U.S. past a Swiss squad featuring Federer last month in Fribourg.