Roger Federer primed to stay No. 1 after being seeded No. 1 at BNP Paribas Open

Roger Federer, who recently became the oldest man to hold the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis at age 36, will bring a 12-match winning streak to the BNP Paribas Open, which starts this week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Federer, a five-time winner of the hard-court event and a 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, on Tuesday was seeded No. 1 in a field that has been depleted by injuries to several prominent players. Among those missing are world No. 2 Rafael Nadal (hip injury), Stan Wawrinka (knee), who lost to Federer in the 2017 final, David Goffin (eye) and Andy Murray (hip surgery).

Federer,who has spent 305 weeks of his career atop the Assn. of Tennis Professional world rankings, must reach the semifinals at Indian Wells to keep his No. 1 status. If he exits sooner than that, Nadal would regain the top spot. Federer has a first-round bye and a seemingly easy projected route to the quarterfinals, where he likely would face No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.

Five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic, who had what he called “a small medical intervention” on his troublesome right elbow earlier this year, was seeded 10th in the tournament, which will award more than $17 million in prize money. Djokovic has played only four matches this year because of his elbow problems and hasn’t played a tournament since he lost to Hyeon Chung of South Korea in straight sets in the round of 16 at the Australian Open in January.

Marin Cilic of Croatia was seeded No. 2 at Indian Wells, followed by Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, Alexander Zverev of Germany, Thiem, and the resurgent Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who beat three top-10 players to win a recent tournament in Acapulco. After battling injuries for several years and sinking to 1,045 in the ATP world rankings Del Potro has risen to No. 8, his best ranking in nearly four years.

The highest-seeded American man at Indian Wells is Jack Sock, at No. 8. Sock ranks No. 10 in the world.

Maria Sharapova of Russia will face Naomi Osaka of Japan on Wednesday with their match scheduled for not before 5:00 p.m.

On Thursday, Serena Williams will play Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will play Heather Watson of the United Kingdom during the evening session (7 p.m. start).

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

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