The seeds have made it through and the “Group of Death” has officially come to life in the fourth round of Indian Wells.
After going through all of 2016 without one of their encounters, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the second time in three months to kick off the 2017 season. This Australian Open final rematch is sure to be the match of the day (or tournament?).
In January, Federer defeated Nadal to claim his 18th Grand Slam title and seventh in Melbourne. The three hour, 37 minute final was peak Fedal from the first point all the way until the last ball.
— The Tennis Island (@thetennisisland) January 29, 2017
Nadal heads in to the encounter with a straight sets win against countryman Fernando Verdasco, while Federer dispatched Steve Johnson in two tiebreak sets. Nadal leads the head-to-head record against Federer 23-12 but they are an even 8-8 on hard courts.
Just below Fedal’s fourth round clash are Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.
Djokovic met a familiar foe in Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. Del Potro defeated the Serbian at the 2016 Olympic Games and Djokovic got his revenge in Acapulco just last week. Their previous two encounters could not have been tighter (5 of the previous 6 went the distance) and this one was no exception. By far this was the most difficult third round in the men’s draw. The World No. 2 was able to find his old form and fight for a convincing 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 win.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 15, 2017
The win placed Novak in a position to make history in Indian Wells! He and Federer are the only players to win 19(!) straight matches at the tournament. Djokovic will look for a historic 20th straight win when he faces Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) March 15, 2017
Kyrgios was at his usual entertaining best in a third round clash against fellow ATP Next Gen star Alexander Zverev. Strong throughout, Kyrgios had no problem showing off his many skills, including a couple of wicked tweeners. He easily advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win.
Tweener #2 for @NickKyrgios.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 14, 2017
Kyrgios leads the head-to-head record against Djokovic 1-0 after meeting in the Acapulco quarterfinals last week. The flashy Australian became the first man since his compatriot Lleyton Hewitt to defeat Nadal, Federer and Djokovic on the first try.
These are matches suitable for Grand Slam semis or finals, but in Indian Wells this year they are just the fourth round. Only one of these four winners will proceed to the semifinals, presumably against Kei Nishikori.