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Taylor Fritz of the US plays a backhand in his final against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the 2023 United Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney, Australia, January 8 2023. Picture: BRENDON THORNE/GETTY IMAGES
Taylor Fritz of the US plays a backhand in his final against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the 2023 United Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney, Australia, January 8 2023. Picture: BRENDON THORNE/GETTY IMAGES

New York — American Taylor Fritz will take on either compatriot Ben Shelton or Italian Fabio Fognini as he begins his title defence at Indian Wells this week, with top-ranked Iga Swiatek facing a potential third-round showdown with 2019 champ Bianca Andreescu.

Fritz battled through excruciating pain to end Rafa Nadal’s 20-match winning run and claim his first Masters 1000 championship in 2022 and will hope for another storybook finish after the main draw was announced on Monday.

Facing a depleted men’s field, Fritz could run into Denmark’s Holger Rune in the quarterfinal. Seventh-seed Rune also won his first Masters title last year when he outlasted 22-time Major winner Novak Djokovic in Paris.

Red-hot Daniil Medvedev, who collected his third consecutive title in Dubai earlier in March, is on a collision course to meet third-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final eight, while Spain’s top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz could face Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarters.

World No 1 Djokovic withdrew from the tournament on Sunday and Nadal, who aggravated a hip problem in his second-round loss at the Australian Open and has not played since, also pulled out.

On the women’s side, Swiatek looks as though she could have little trouble collecting a second consecutive title in the southern California desert after cruising to victory a year ago amid a blockbuster unbeaten streak.

Maiden win

She could meet WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals after beginning her campaign against either American Claire Liu or Belgian Alison van Uytvanck, with Canadian Andreescu enjoying the first-round bye.

Fresh off her maiden Grand Slam win in Australia, second seed Aryna Sabalenka will face either Alize Cornet or Evgeniya Rodina to begin the tournament.

She has the chance to exact a little bit of revenge against potential fourth-round foe Barbora Krejcikova, after the 2021 French Open winner ended her 13-match winning streak in Dubai last month. 

Reuters

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