Men Brace For Desert Challenge

Indian Wells Masters 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, March 3rd, 2010

Indian Wells Masters 2010After this week’s opening round play in the Davis Cup, 96 of the world’s premier singles players and 32 stellar doubles teams will head to the desert, where only the strong survive. An impressive field, only equaled by Grand Slam events, is expected for the year’s first of nine World Tour ATP tournaments.

The tour’s biggest names will clash with players seeking to cash in on a piece of the $3,645,000 prize money. Last year’s attendance at the spectacular Indian Wells Tennis Garden marked the first time any event outside a Grand Slam has topped 300,000. The desert resort has a heightened sense of anticipation.

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro are two of the top tour players who are nursing injuries. Both are expected to play. Del Potro has been treating an injured wrist while Federer was forced to withdraw from Dubai last week with a lung infection.

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Many the top players have had success at Indian Wells. Rafa Nadal, last year’s winner, will join last year’s runner-up, Andy Murray as well as 2008 champion Novak Djokovic, last week’s winner at Dubai.

The tournament’s top seed in the 12-day event commencing March 11th will be the ageless Federer, king of the game. The Australian Open Champion has not played since his year-opening Grand Slam win. However, he is the only active player to have won at Indian Wells and also at the Sony Ericsson Miami extravaganza in the same year. He accomplished the feat in 2005 and 2006, the year of his last championship here.

Novak Djokovic is a two-time leader and will be seeded second. The Serb overcame difficulties last week at Dubai, but seems well grounded for this journey and may upset the apple cart. Djokovic beat Nadal for the 2007 title and American Mardy Fish for the 2008 crown.

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Other top seeds will be Murray, an early round knockout in Dubai, Nadal, Del Potro, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Mikhail Youzhny and Marin Cilic. The rankings have shifted in the last two weeks, with Fernando Verdasco tumbling out of the top ten. Cilic, Soderling and Youzhny have all been hot of late.

Cilic has built the most impressive won-lost record this season. His 17-2 mark heads a strong list of active players. Roddick is second with a 15-3 mark, followed by 10th ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero (14-3), Davydenko (13-3) and Davis Ferrer (13-4).

Impressive Cypriot, Marcos Baghdatis is very much on his game. The upset king let one slip away against Djokovic but still stands at 13-5 for the year. In the desert and with big purses on the line, anything goes. We expect the cream to be at the top when the sand settles.


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