BNP Paribas Open 2013: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka will defend titles

Michael Dodge

Many of the biggest stars in tennis will be competing at the 2013 BNP Paribas.

Defending champions Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka will take on a star-studded field of participants at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and Maria Sharapova join the pair of world No. 2s to do battle starting on March 6, leading up to the championship matches on March 17.

Federer's final opponent in 2012, John Isner, has played through an injury-riddled first two months of the year. He was forced to pull out of the Australian Open with a knee issue, but is still the top-ranked American at No. 15. Isner will need his body at full strength to duplicate his result from last year's event, when he took down Djokovic in a hard-fought semifinal match.

Djokovic enters the tournament as the top seed and is undefeated thus far in 2013. After beating Murray in the Australian Open final, he won a Davis Cup singles rubber for Serbia and was perfect in taking a title in Dubai.

A disappointing second-round exit seems like a distant memory for Andy Murray, who has enjoyed a breakthrough 12 months since that loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Murray has one title under his belt thus far this season at the Brisbane.

Nadal continues his comeback from knee trouble and he's already rounding into form. The Spaniard won the Sao Paulo title on his favorite surface, the clay court. The BNP Paribas Open will put his knee to the test on a hard court surface. Nadal reached the semifinals of this event in 2012 before falling to Federer in straight sets.

On the women's side, Sharapova will be looking to get back at Azarenka for last year's title match defeat. The Russian has reached the semifinals in both of her 2013 tournaments, including a loss to Na Li at the Australian. She fell to Serena Williams at Doha, but Sharapova won't have to worry about that this week. Williams won't be participating in the BNP Paribas.

Azarenka has taken home the title in her last two tournaments, including an Australian Open victory. Vika has been on fire, dropping just three sets in her last 12 matches.

The women's main draw is set to begin on Wednesday, while the men get going on Thursday.

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