The first Masters 1000 of the season will start with four first-level defections: Juan Martin Del Potro, Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislas Wawrinka withdrew because of injuries while Fernando "Mano de Piedra" Gonzalez preferred remain in Chile play an exhibition event given for charity to help his country wasted by the recent earthquake.
The tournament will help to solve the doubts about the actual condition of the Fab Four. Roger Federer, at Indian Wells since 5-6 days training with Paganini, will start against Hanescu or Chela for a theorical tight third round clash against Marcos Baghdatis. Then Stepanek, or Robredo, and a possible quarter against Roddick (very easy draw for the American till the quarters), without forgetting the Davis Cup hero David Nalbandian. In the first half of the draw there's also Andy Murray, coming back after the wrist injury, who'll debut against the Italian Andreas Seppi or the American Robbie Ginepri. Possible round 16 against Ivo Karlovic (definitely not so easy) and an extremely likely quarters with Soderling or Tsonga could characterize his tournament.
The higher part of the draw the hypothetical second round derby between the pure physical energy of Gael Monfils, and the under-achieving prodigy genius Richard Gasquet can be the hot spot during the first days.
In the lower part of the draw the main interest is predictably Rafa Nadal's knee. The Mallorcan, on the lowest possible hardcourt, will have a light start against a qualifier then Mario Ancic (welcome back) or Benneteau, then a risky round 16 with one of the American boomers John Isner or Sam Querrey. In the quarters likely revenge against Kolya Davydenko; alternatively he could face Fernando Verdasco, traditionally knelt down before the Mallorcan (but he should defeat Thomas Berdych in the third round, an the Czech is proverbially unpredictable), or the rejuvenated Ernests Gulbis who won his first Atp title in Delray Beach and could face Davydenko in the second round.
Novak Djokovic quarter of the draw is apparently the poorer. The Serb, who played an impressively high amount of matches in the last period, will commence against Fish or Berrer, benefitting from the work with the new Italian coach Claudio Pistolesi, then Kohlschreiber and a possible quarter to Cilic and a thrilling semi with Rafa Nadal.
Federer - Roddick Possible upset: Monfils.
Soderling - Murray Possible upset: Tsonga
Davydenko - Nadal Possible upset: Querrey, Gulbis, Berdych
Cilic - Djokovic Possible upset: Ljubicic