Roger Federer bids for sixth Indian Wells title in season's opening Masters 1000 event
By Sky Sports Tennis
Last Updated: 12/03/18 8:01am
The year's first Masters 1000 event begins this week in Indian Wells and you can catch all the action, live on Sky Sports Arena throughout the tournament.
Roger Federer will start as favourite in California, where he will bid for a record sixth men's singles title, although a run to the semi-finals will at least ensure he is world No 1 at the end of next week.
Should he fall before the last four, Rafael Nadal will reclaim top spot on March 19 for what would be his fifth spell despite not playing since the Australian Open because of injury.
Del Potro, Anderson can challenge
Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson are the two players to challenge Roger Federer at Indian Wells this year, says Mark Petchey.
The Spaniard is missing again this week, as is Stan Wawrinka, although Novak Djokovic is poised to compete for just the second time since Wimbledon after surgery on his right elbow.
The Serb's last competitive action was his defeat to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open fourth round on January 22, but he has happy memories in Indian Wells having matched Federer's record of five titles.
Federer will open up against Federico Delbonis while a potential semi-final against in-form Kevin Anderson awaits.
Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro, who have both broken into the top 10 this season, are Mark Petchey's picks to challenge Federer.
Del Potro faces a potentially troublesome route though, with Djokovic a potential fourth-round opponent and if he gets through that, Marin Cilic could be on the other side of the net in the last eight.
One to watch
Lucas Pouille has reached three finals in the last four weeks and has risen to a career-high world No 12. The Frenchman won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier last month and Sky Sports' Mark Petchey has high hopes for the 24-year-old.
"He has got all the ingredients to make a big run at a major. His game is only getting better. His game still needs to improve against the very best. His serve at times can be a little bit erratic for where it needs to be at the back end of a major.
"I was fortunate enough to go back to coach for a month last year which allowed me to see a little bit more of what is going on and he was working so hard. I was super impressed with his intensity on a day-to-day level. You can work hard but sometimes you can work hard functionally rather than with a certain passion.
"He just wants to be the best player he can be. He has got a very good game - there is no question about it. Time will tell whether it is good enough to win a major. He is certainly top-10 level in terms of his quality. If he can find a little more consistency on the serve and the backhand side then he won't be too far away.
"As much as people are missing the marquee names it is also quite exciting to see which players are going to have the ability to step up and actually take advantage of some of the holes that are appearing in these draws. Pouille is one of those players that has done that exceptionally well in recent weeks."
You can watch the Masters 1000 from Indian Wells on Sky Sports Action and via the red button. You can also watch it from 10.30pm on Sky Sports Main Event.
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