Updated: March 10, 2010, 3:22 PM ET

Does Fed care about the Masters events?

Garber By Greg Garber
FedererNicolas Luttiau/US PresswireRoger Federer has won only two Masters 1000 titles in the past two years.

This much we know:

The two No. 1-ranked players in the world will not hoist the championship trophies at Indian Wells as they did at the Australian Open.

Serena Williams, of course, will again boycott this week's event as she has along with her sister Venus for nine consecutive years now. Roger Federer, returning from a curious lung infection, will be in the loaded field at the BNP Paribas Open -- the first of nine ATP World Tour Masters events in 2010.

But while Federer has mastered the majors, he has not majored in Masters tournaments in recent years.

In the three-plus seasons including 2007, Federer remarkably has won seven of the past 13 Grand Slam singles titles. That's good -- ridiculous, actually -- for a winning percentage of .538. In the same time frame, with similar draws that include most of the top contenders, Federer has won only four of his past 26 ATP Masters tournaments (.154).

Clearly, the 28-year-old father of twins has his priorities in order.

There was a time when Federer burned to win all of the important tournaments. From 2004-06, he won nine Masters events. But since reaching four finals in 2007 (and winning only in Cincinnati), Federer has taken only two titles -- last year, in Madrid and Cincinnati. He seems content to play into the quarters or semis (nine times), then put the hammer down in the Grand Slam events.

Meanwhile, the youngsters play these Masters events like Federer circa 2006. Rafael Nadal has won eight titles in the past three years, followed by Novak Djokovic (5) and Andy Murray (4).

And so, who will win at Indian Wells, the most-attended tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slams? Federer was the three-time champion from 2004-06, but last year Nadal won the title for the second time in three years. It is his last tournament victory on a hard court, and his body has started to show effects of the punishing, physical game he plays.

Usually, in the warm desert air of the early season, it comes down to who is hungriest. Right now, those players would seem to be Djokovic, Murray and Nikolay Davydenko, who won the ATP's year-end event in London.

On the women's side, missing three of the top five-ranked players takes some of the air out of this tournament. With the Williams sisters and No. 2-ranked Dinara Safina (back injury) absent, how about a Russian winner? Elena Dementieva, defending champion Vera Zvonareva, even Maria Sharapova -- who has already equaled last year's win total -- should all be in the mix.

Then again, maybe Kim Clijsters will win back-to-back titles. Seriously, this is the first time Clijsters will play at Indian Wells since she won in 2005 -- and she went on to win the championship at Miami two weeks later.

Five questions with …

… Gigi Fernandez and Owen Davidson

ESPN.com caught up with these doubles greats, two of the International Tennis Hall of Fame's recently announced Class of 2010, at the Billie Jean King Cup exhibition in New York.

Most cherished tennis moment?

[+] Enlarge
Frank Leonhardt/AFP/Getty ImagesGigi Fernandez says raising the net would blunt the ever-growing power in today's game.

Fernandez: Winning the 1992 Olympic gold medal with Mary Joe Fernandez in Barcelona. "No relation, by the way. We played the Spanish team of Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in their home country. The next biggest thrill was repeating four years later with Mary Joe in Atlanta."

Davidson: Winning the doubles title at the 1973 U.S. Open with John Newcombe. "Tony Roche was injured, so I got to play with my [Australian] boyhood friend. We were up against Mr. [Rod] Laver and Mr. [Ken] Rosewall -- guys we idolized and dreamed of beating growing up and hitting balls off the garage door."

What did you bring to the game?

Fernandez: "I think I brought passion -- intense passion. When fans came to watch me, they knew they were going to get an exciting match."

Davidson: "I think I brought a lot of honesty. I always had a great relationship with all of my partners through the years."

Women's player you most enjoy watching -- and why?

Fernandez: Serena Williams. "She never quits. She is the ultimate warrior."

Davidson: Justine Henin. "Because she has the most well-rounded and talented game, for a woman of smaller stature."

Men's player you most enjoy watching -- and why?

Fernandez: Rafa -- I was born in Puerto Rico, so I'm biased. I was coaching at Roland Garros when he won there for the first time [in 2005]. You knew he was going to be great."

Davidson: Roger Federer. "By far. Nobody can hit the ball like Roger."

What would you change in the game today?

Fernandez: "I would raise the nets to take some of the power out of the game. It measures 36 inches on the lines and maybe 32 in the middle. Make it 36 inches all the way across and that would make it harder to live on big serves and bring back the all-court game."

Davidson: "I would find a way to encourage all the top players to play doubles more. When you see Federer and Nadal playing doubles, they bring an incredible standard of tennis. They would win if the played consistently and it would add a dimension to their game."

A win is a win

Richard Dee, a 23-year-old Englishman, went 54 consecutive matches -- and an astonishing 108 sets -- over three years without a victory.

Now, he's trying for a breakthrough win in a high court in London.

Dee sued the Daily Telegraph for wrecking his professional career by calling him "the world's worst tennis pro" and noting that he had fashioned "an unrelieved catalogue of failure."

A number of other media organizations -- including the BBC, the Guardian, Sun and Daily Mail -- apologized or paid him tens of thousands of pounds in damages to avoid the lawsuit. The Telegraph declined and is planning to call several high-profile witnesses, including Boris Becker and Great Britain's Davis Cup Captain John Lloyd.

"The claimant has a serious and substantial complaint," said his lawyer, Andrew Caldecott.

Dee's argument: Since he did not have a world ranking in 2008, he cannot, technically speaking, be called the worst.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.


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