With the Australian Open concluding this weekend, the next major stop on the tennis calendar will be the BNP Paribas Open, the most-attended tennis tournament outside of the Grand Slams. Once again the tournament, to be held March 7-20 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, will feature hundreds of the best players in the world, including the top three players on both tours – Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki (No. 1), Roger Federerand Vera Zvonareva (No. 2) and Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters (No. 3).
Nadal, who had an incredible season in 2010 capturing three of the four majors, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, will be in search of his third crown in Indian Wells (2007, 2009), and would join Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang and Federer as three-time winners of the BNP Paribas Open. Wozniacki became the 20th World No. 1 in WTA history last year, and captured six titles. A finalist at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, she is seeking her first Grand Slam title this week at the Australian Open and is into the semifinals.
Federer, who is the only man to ever win the BNP Paribas Open three years in a row (2004-2006), bookended 2010 by winning the sixteenth major of his career in Australia in January and the ATP World Championships in the final week of the season. A win this week would continue to increase his all-time leading major title record. Zvonareva had a fantastic 2010 reaching the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, and climbing to an all-time high ranking of No. 2 in the world. The 2009 BNP Paribas Open champion has another shot at a major title this week at the Australian Open.
Djokovic had another strong campaign in 2010, and entrenched himself further into the Serbian history books by helping his country capture its first ever Davis Cup title with a win over France in December. The 2008 BNP Paribas Open champion is trying to capture the second major of his career this week in Australia, with the first coming in 2008 in the land down under. Clijsters, who has three major titles, including the last two US Open’s, will look to become the only woman to ever win the BNP Paribas Open singles title three times (2005, 2003). She is currently in the hunt this weekend for her fourth Grand Slam title and her first at the Australian Open.
In addition to these six stars, the fields will feature a host of others who have captured titles in Indian Wells including the last six women to win the title – defending champion Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic (2008), Daniela Hantuchova (2007, 2002), Southern California resident Maria Sharapova (2006), Zvonareva and Clijsters. On the men’s side, defending champion Ivan Ljubicic and Lleyton Hewitt (2001-2002) join Nadal, Federer and Djokovic as former champions in the draw.
In addition to these champions, numerous other top ten stars such as Robin Soderling (No. 4), Andy Murray (No. 5), Tomas Berdych (No. 6), David Ferrer (No. 7), American Andy Roddick (No. 8), Fernando Verdasco (No. 9), Mikhail Youhzny (No. 10), Samantha Stosur (No. 6), Francesca Schiavone (No. 7) and World No. 9 Victoria Azarenka will also vie for the title. Other American stars that will compete include Mardy Fish, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sam Querrey, Melanie Oudin, John Isner and the World No. 1 doubles team, Mike and Bob Bryan, who will be seeking to capture one of the few titles that have eluded them in their record-setting career.
One of the new additions for the players and fans this year will be the addition of Hawkeye replay technology and video displays on all match courts. While most tournaments feature Hawkeye replay technology and video displays on one, two, or three courts, none have made it available on eight match courts.
The women’s qualifying draw will take place March 7-8 and the men’s qualifying rounds will be held March 8-9. There will be 48 players in each draw vying for 12 spots in the main draws. First-round play will begin Wednesday, March 9 for the women and Thursday, March 10 for the men. The men’s and women’s singles championship finals will be held on Sunday, March 20. For information or to buy tickets, visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call the Indian Wells Tennis Garden at 800-999-1585, or visit the box office, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA 92210.