The Indian Wells draw turned out to be a crapshoot, and Ivan Ljucicic’s big win made me question my usual take on a draw preview. Does it really matter if Rafa and Roger are on opposite sides? (They are, with Rafa seeded No. 4) As for the fates of Murray, Djokovic, Del Potro and Davydenko – let’s just be happy that two of them are still playing tennis.
As a nod to tradition, I present the seeded semis: Federer vs. Murray and Nadal vs. Djokovic.
Now let’s get serious about Jurgen Melzer and Julien Benneteau, shall we?
FIRST QUARTER (top half)
Hello, Roger! We meet again, right where we always do, at the top of the draw. But you know what they say: it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters. Federer will hopefully play Potito Starace, former U.H.O. and namesake of my new green cheeked conure, in the second round. Let’s say I’m looking forward to that one for personal reasons. Wild card Carlos Moya is a possible third round before things could get dicey vs. Tomas Berdych in the Round of 16. If Fed gets past Berdy, he might get Baghy in the quarterfinals (or Verdasco or Cilic, but that wouldn’t be so dramatic.) Will Roger have a chance at revenge or will Baghdatis pull a Canas and beat the Swiss at Indian Wells and Miami in the same year? (Canas is back in Miami, by the way, but as a coach.)
Seeded Round of 16s: Federer vs. Berdych and Verdasco vs. Cilic
Look out for: Korolev vs. Verdasco in the 2nd round, Cilic vs. Baghdatis in the 3rd
Best guess for the quarters: Albert Montanes vs. Stephane Robert
SECOND QUARTER (top half)
Defending champ, Andy Murray, is the 3rd seed in Miami, and the second-in-command in the top half of the draw. Soderling is back as Murray’s quarterfinal seed. I’m loving these weekly grudge matches. Fernando Gonzalez, back on tour after an emotional Davis Cup tie and some relief work in his earthquake-ravaged country, is the Swede’s Round of 16 seed. Murray might be worrying about Youznhy in the 4th round, or Mardy Fish in the second. At this point, it’s hard to know what Andy’s thinking.
Seeded round of 16s: Murray vs. Youzhny and Gonzalez vs. Soderling
Look out for: Murray vs. Fish and Almagro vs. Wawrinka in the 2nd round, Gonzo vs. Monaco in the 3rd
Best guess for the quarters: Lukas Lacko vs. Peter Luczak
THIRD QUARTER (bottom half)
This is Rafael Nadal’s section of the draw. I bet he wishes it wasn’t. He could get Dent in the second round, Nalbandian or Troicki in the third and Ivo Karlovic in the Round of 16. His reward for making it through to the quarters? Tsonga or Isner. Now that’s what we call a nightmare draw.
Seeded round of 16s: Tsonga vs. Ferrero, Nadal vs. Ferrer
Look out for: Young American wildcard, Ryan Harrison vs. Michael Llodra in the 1st round. Kohlschreiber vs. Tsonga and Isner vs. Ferrero in the 3rd, Nadal vs. almost anyone.
Best guess for the quarters: Ferrer vs. Ferrero, it’s destiny
FOURTH QUARTER (bottom half)
We can only assume that Novak Djokovic is finally recovered from Davis Cup and is ready to do one better than his finalist appearance last year. But just looking at his draw makes me weak in the knees: Gasquet in the 2nd, Blake in the 3rd, Monfils, Ancic or Querrey in the Round of 16 and Ivan Ljubicic (yikes!) or Andy Roddick in the quarters. I feel your pain, Nole. Really, I do.
Seeded round of 16s: Roddick vs. Ljubicic in a rematch of the IW finals, Monfils vs. Djokovic.
Look out for: Ancic vs. Chardy and Blake vs. Federer’s recent hitting partner, Filip Krajinovic, in the 1st round. Roddick vs. Andreev in the 2nd, Monfils vs. Querrey or Ancic and Blake vs. Djokovic in the 3rd round. Yep, it’s packed.
Best guess for the quarters: Stakhovsky vs. Schwank