A journalist referred to it as the “group of death”. And it was one of the main topics of conversation at Indian Wells’ annual media all-access session.
Several of the BNP Paribas Open’s top ATP players were asked about their reaction to the loaded bottom quarter of the draw – featuring Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev – at Indian Wells.
Here’s what they had to say …
Andy Murray: “Amazing draw, really. I’ve never seen anything like that, probably it would be one of the toughest sections of a draw of all time, I would have thought. It’d be interesting to see some ones that were comparable, but in terms of the amount of Grand Slams you have in that bottom section, and then also the younger, up-and-coming players that are likely to be right at the top of the game for a long time – some of them are already there – but getting better all the time, it’s exciting for tennis fans for sure, there’ll be some great matches early on in the tournament hopefully and there’s even guys like Verdasco in there, dangerous players like that, so it’s definitely tough on the the guys that are down there. A section like that is a really tough one to come through … obviously a section, ideally, you would want to be avoiding, if you can.” (smiling)
Roger Federer: “Most of the guys you won’t even see. Because they’ll eliminate each other, so from that standpoint, the first message I got was Dudi Sela or Stephane Robert. I was like, OK fine. Then I heard Rafa was in my section, and you’re like, OK. And then heard maybe Novak’s in your section and you’re like OK, fine. It doesn’t matter – I’ve gone through so many draws. I came here to Indian Wells to play against those guys so it doesn’t matter if it’s the semis, the finals, or actually a fourth round. The only problem is that most (top) guys have to lose super early, and that opens the draw for other players and it’s an opportunity for other guys to maybe rise in the rankings. But I think it’s good for me to play those guys early. I look forward to it.”
Stan Wawrinka: “The draw was for sure the last quarter was packed. It’s quite crazy to see all those big names in the same quarter. No, I don’t think (I’ve seen something like this). Even if you take just Roger, Rafa and Novak in the same quarter of a tournament, it’s quite big.”
Dominic Thiem: “I mean for everybody who loves watching the game it’s nice to have potential fourth round Roger against Rafa. It’s the best what you can have. But in the Masters 1000 events from round three there are only unbelievable matches so it was somehow clear that it’s gonna happen, that some top stars are playing really early.”
Marin Cilic: “The bottom quarter is obviously extremely tough. I’m in a still tough section but I’m feeling that I can go through it … if I’m going to be coming up to that stage of the tournament, even coming up against anyone from that section, which is the bottom, it’s going to be fine. But I would say it would be much more difficult to meet those guys in the earlier rounds.”
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