BNP Paribas Open 2012 Preview: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka Top The Players In Search Of $1 Million

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand in his men's final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day fourteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic is looking to defend last year's championship, while Victoria Azarenka tries to make up for her quarterfinal loss in the 2011 event.

A year ago, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka weren't the best in the world. In fact, Djokovic was the third-best on the men's side and Azarenka the ninth-best.

When Djokovic won last year's BNP Parbias Open, he actually had a semi-upset when he defeated then-world No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who a year later is still ranked the second-best in the world.

Azarenka isn't the defending champ on the women's side. She actually retired in her quarterfinal match against eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki, who was No. 1 at the time.

Djokovic is going for his third title in Southern California and Azarenka is looking for her first, but they aren't alone in their quest for another championship.

Actually, on the men's side, in the last seven of the eight years it has either been Djokovic, Nadal or Roger Federer who ended up raising the trophy. If the seeds were to stay in line, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer would meet in the semifinal, along with Andy Murray, who upset Djokovic just last week in the Dubai semifinal.

As for the women, Azarenka is undefeated right now, on a 17-match win streak with three tournament titles to her name in 2012: Sydney, the Aussie Open and Doha.

However, Wozniacki has been a fixture in the last two finals at Indian Wells. The 21-year-old Dane, and former world No. 1, is in the same half of the bracket as Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova, both former champions of the BNP Parbias.

And there's no reason to talk Indian Wells, the biggest tournament outside a Grand Slam, if the prize money isn't mentioned.

The winner will take home $1 million.

Top 5 ATP seeds

1. Novak Djokovic

2. Rafadel Nadal

3. Roger Federer

4. Andy Murray

5. David Ferrer

Top 5 WTA seeds

1. Victoria Azarenka

2. Maria Sharapova

3. Petra Kvitova

4. Caroline Wozniacki

5. Agnieszka Radwanska

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