Roger Federer  vs. Nick Kyrgios 
“We need a clown for this circus,” Federer said during his first and only meeting with Kyrgios, in Madrid two years ago. That generational clash was a three-tiebreaker corker that Kyrgios won 14-12 in the third-set decider. Federer says he’s happy to get another shot at the Aussie, and as far as his own game is concerned, the Swiss is catching him at a good time. The 35-year-old Federer is coming off one of the most memorable wins of his career, in two lopsided sets over his toughest rival, Rafael Nadal. But the 21-year-old Kyrgios is also coming off a memorable win, his second straight over Novak Djokovic. There are a host of interesting questions and subthemes to this match: Will Federer’s newly revamped backhand work as well against Kyrgios as it did against Nadal? How will Kyrgios, who had a good long rant at the chair umpire in their Madrid match, act if things don’t go his way in this one, and how will his behavior and shot selection affect Federer, if at all? Will this be a generational battle for the books? It’s possible. There may not be a clown for this circus at high noon, but it should still be worth some popcorn. Winner: Federer
Kei Nishikori  vs. Jack Sock 
Sock has been on a roll in Indian Wells—a long and winding roll. He won his first match over Henri Laaksonen, 6-4 in the third set, after losing the second 6-0. He saved four match points to beat Grigor Dimitrov 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker. And on Wednesday, he dropped the first set to Malik Jaziri before coming back to win 7-5 in the third. For U.S. tennis fans, this bodes well; Sock may go on walkabouts, but he’s competing his way back into matches now. Can he make it four marathon wins in a row? Or will he be gassed, and satisfied with what he’s done this week? Nishikori is obviously a step up in level, but the American did win their last meeting, on a quick hard court in Shanghai in 2014. The conditions will be slower here, but I don’t think they’ll favor either of these guys unduly. Nishikori is still the better player on most days, but like Sock, he’s also prone to the mid-match dip in play. It’s easy to see this one going three. Winner: Nishikori
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