The ATP Tour returns to Indian Wells this week where there will be a new champion crowned and priceless Nitto ATP Finals points up for grabs.
The tournament is usually held in March and is the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season but, due to covid-19 disruptions, it takes place in October this year.
After the 2020 event was cancelled because of the pandemic, this year’s Masters will take place over 11 days.
With previous winners of the tournament Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all absent from the event, it’s guaranteed there will be a first-time BNP Paribas Open singles champion in 2021.
Don’t worry about a lack of class, though. The draw does have the likes of recently crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andy Murray, who has been given a main-draw wild card.
In the 2019 final, Thiem beat Federer in a three-set thriller 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
But what are the five best ATP matches to have taken place at Indian Wells? Here’s our favourites…
Del Potro vs Federer – 2018 final
What a match and occasion for Del Potro to clinch his maiden Masters 1000 title against the man he beat to win his solitary Grand Slam at the US Open in 2009.
Up against Swiss great Federer, who was enjoying an unbeaten start to the season with 17 straight wins, Del Potro dramatically saved three match points as he came out on top in a pulsating final-set tie-break. The Argentine’s win denied the then all-time Grand Slam leader a record sixth title in California.
Del Potro had struggled with a number of wrist injuries over the years but at Indian Wells the ‘Tower of Tandil’ showcased his ability to compete with the best when fit and healthy.
Del Potro beat Federer 6-4, 6-7 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2).
Nadal v Zverev – 2016
Nadal was going through the most testing period of his career and hadn’t advanced past the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam in his past six majors going into Indian Wells.
But the great Spaniard saved a match point to overcome 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev in a three-set thriller.
Nadal beat the NextGen star 6-7 (10-8), 6-0, 7-5 in the fourth round, winning 15 of the final 16 points.
After breaking Nadal twice in the deciding set, serving at 5-4, Zverev was a point away from securing his biggest career win. However, on match point he missed a straightforward volley he described as the “easiest shot” he had in the whole match.
Federer v Djokovic – 2014 final
In a battle between two of the big three, Novak Djokovic fought back to beat his great rival in a deciding tie-break 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) to lift the trophy.
Despite not being at his best and losing the opening set, the Serb found a way to win the event for a third time.
Djokovic failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third but showed great resilience to win the tie-break.
Fish v Nalbandian – 2008
Home favourite Mardy Fish managed to outlast talented Argentine David Nalbandian in a gripping quarter-final clash.
Despite never going beyond the fourth round at Indian Wells, the American embarked on a giant-killing frenzy in 2008.
After beating the likes of Nikolay Davydenko and Lleyton Hewitt, Fish managed to see off Nalbandian in a final-set tie-break despite a hole in his sock and shoe!
Ranked 98 in the world heading into the tournament, Fish went on to beat Federer in the semi-finals before losing in three sets to Djokovic in the final.
Nadal v Del Potro – 2013 final
Playing in his first hard-court tournament in a year because of a knee injury, Nadal’s renaissance continued in the desert.
He added the Indian Wells title to the clay-court titles he won in Brazil and Mexico since his comeback the month before.
Del Potro came into the final looking to follow up wins over Murray and Djokovic.
The Argentine was leading Nadal by a set and 3-1 and was three games from the title before the Spaniard’s fighting qualities shone through and he turned the match on its head.
Nadal came out on top 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.