Exactly six months from today, on March 3, 2014, the best tennis stars in the world will descend upon Indian Wells for the 2014 BNP Paribas Open. With the US Open running full steam ahead in New York, we have six reasons why you don’t want to miss spring in the California desert.
A Brand New Stadium in the Desert
With 8,000 seats, unprecedented view lines and an intimate setting, the brand-new Stadium Two will become a new gem in the Coachella Valley come spring. Three restaurants on the west side of the stadium will offer hungry fans a gourmet dining experience while watching world-class tennis and also breathtaking views of tournament grounds and surrounding snow-capped mountains. Although the city of Indian Wells is a destination location with just over 5,000 permanent residents, the BNP Paribas Open attracted 382,227 fans to the city for the event in 2013. The new Stadium Two will increase the fan experience of these visitors by offering yet another state-of-the-art tennis stadium with modern amenities.
Practice, Practice, Practice (Practice!)
That’s four “practices,” one each for the four new practice courts set to open on the grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, bringing the total number of practice courts to 20. Want to rip a forehand like Maria Sharapova or work on adding more topspin to your strokes a la Rafael Nadal? These practice courts are prime viewing areas for catching the nuances of the game of tennis through some of its most prolific champions. In addition, you might see a friendly greeting between Nadal and Roger Federer as they practice on adjacent courts or incredible shot-making in a volley game among doubles experts including defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan and Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova.
Four More Reasons to Come to the 2014 BNP Paribas Open AFTER THE JUMP:
With one week in the books at the US Open, the storylines that have played out over the last seven days at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are – as usual – ones to remember. Which will BNP Paribas Open fans be talking about come March? We check them out.
Nadal’s Red-Hot Hardcourt Run
King of Clay? How about King of Hard Courts? Two-time BNPPO champion Rafael Nadal has won 19 straight matches on the surface, a streak that began in Indian Wells earlier this year following his seven-month layoff due to a knee injury. The run has included wins over Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro (all in Indian Wells), Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Federer (again) and John Isner. It’s Federer that Nadal could met again in the quarterfinals in New York after clashing in the same round in Indian Wells and Cincinnati this year.
Vicky Duval’s Inspiring Story – and Win
At Indian Wells earlier this year it was Taylor Townsend who registered an inspiring win, and this last week in New York her fellow 17-year-old Victoria Duval did much the same. The Haitian-American came through qualifying to reach the main draw where she shocked 2011 US Open winner Sam Stosur in the first round. Duval’s win was inspiring on many fronts, including the fact that her father had been buried in the rubble in the Haiti earthquake. It’s a story that has a special connection to the BNP Paribas Open, seeing as back in 2010 the “Hit for Haiti” fundraiser helped raise over $1 million for the victims of the natural disaster.
Rafa-Rog: Another Quarterfinal Showdown?
It happened for the first time ever in their careers earlier this year in Indian Wells, and Wednesday night Nadal and Roger Federer could meet again in the quarterfinals, this time at the US Open. The two tennis legends have never faced off in New York City, making the showdown that much more tantalizing. Nadal leads their head-to-head 21-10, including three straight wins that started back in March in the desert and ended in Cincinnati, where they also met in the quarterfinals. Can Federer exact revenge under the lights in Queens?
Bryan Brothers Chasing Golden Slam
It didn’t start in Indian Wells, but the Mike and Bob Bryan‘s historic year has included their first-ever BNPPO title, as well as three – yes, all three! – of the year’s majors. It’s the first time such a feat has been completed in men’s doubles and the American brothers continue go for the Grand Slam at the Open, where they are into the third round as the defending champions. Four majors in one year for a single doubles team? Hey, it could happen.
Names to Know
We previewed many of the names to watch at the US Open before the tournament got underway, with Milos Raonic and Simona Halep being two still alive in Flushing Meadows. American Tim Smyczek, a journeyman from Milwaukee, was the last American man standing, while another American,Alison Riske, had a breakout performance and Camila Giorgi, a little-known Italian ranked No. 136 is into week two, as well.
For the second year in a row, the Australian Open and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells have been honored in a poll of the world’s leading tennis journalists. Members of the International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA), which represents more than 120 journalists from around the world, have voted the two events as the most “media-friendly” tournaments on the international circuit. ITWA members were asked to vote for one Grand Slam tournament and one non-Grand Slam event.
“Thank you to ITWA members for recognizing the BNP Paribas Open again with this award,” said Steve Simon, Tournament Director for the BNP Paribas Open. “Our goal is to make the BNP Paribas Open the most conducive working environment for journalists in the sporting world. This award validates the high standards that we have set, while also challenging us to continually improve our efforts.”
In addition, Mitzi Ingram Evans, formerly of the International Tennis Federation, won the inaugural Bud Collins Award, which honors an individual or group that goes above and beyond to aid journalists in their work.
Wednesday night, James Blake made one last memory in tennis at the US Open as the 33-year-old played his final match of his career in a first-round loss against Ivo Karlovic. What will we most remember of James’ career? From his epic against Andre Agassi in New York to his run to the BNP Paribas Open final, we take a look back at his five best moments.
1. 2005 US Open Quarterfinal vs. Andre Agassi
Perhaps one of the all-time greatest matches at the US Open, Blake went toe-to-toe with Andre Agassi in a classic quarterfinal, the elder American winning 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in a match that finished after 1 am. “At 1:15 in the morning for 20,000 people to still be here, I wasn’t the winner, tennis was,” Agassi told the crowd. “I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this good here before.” “It couldn’t have been more fun to lose,” Blake told Agassi as they shook hands.
2. 2006 BNP Paribas Open final vs. Roger Federer
Blake made three BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals – in 2003, 2004 and 2008 – but it was his run to the 2006 final that was his standout performance here in the desert, stunning Nadal in straight sets in the semifinals before losing to a too-good Federer in the final.
3. 2008 Olympics: Stuns Federer, Places Fourth
The Beijing Games ended up being part elation, part devastation for Blake, who registered his only win over Federer in 11 career tries, only to lose his next two matches. Blake beat Federer in straight sets in the quarterfinals, but then lost a heartbreaker 11-9 in the third set to Fernando Gonzalez in the semis. Novak Djokjovic beat him in the bronze-medal match for third.
4. 2006 ATP World Tour Final Runner-Up
Blake had one of his career-best appearances at this tournament, registering wins over Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko,Tommy Robredo and David Nalbandian before running into Federer in the final. The run, as well as his five titles in 2006, earned him the No. 4 ranking, his best ever.
5. Coming Back, Again and Again… and Again
His father’s death, shingles, a broken neck. James has seemingly been through it all. In 2005 he was awarded the ATP’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, an accolade he might deserve several times over. Blake penned a book about his trials, Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life, that was released to positive reviews in 2007.
The year’s final major gets underway Monday in New York City with the top tennis stars in the world aiming for one more big title in the 2013 Grand Slam schedule at the US Open. But what about those players who might make some unexpected noise in the city that doesn’t sleep? We check in on five to keep your eye on over the next two weeks.
John Isner, USA Rank: 17 Age: 28
Injuries have spelled trouble for the 6-foot-9 American for much of the 2013 season, but the 2012 BNP Paribas Open finalist has seemed to peak at just the right time. Two weeks ago in Cincinnati he made an inspiring run to the final, taking Richard Gasquet and Milos Ranoic [above] before upsetting two-time Indian Wells champ Novak Djokovic and 2013 finalist Juan Martin Del Potro, both in dramatic three setters. It was in the final that Isner was stopped by reigning BNPPO champion Rafael Nadal, but not without the Spaniard saying if the Is-man played his best in NYC, he could be a threat for the title.
Isner has a potential third-round showdown at the USO with Philipp Kohlschreiber, the German who beat him here a year ago. And who awaits in the fourth round should the seeds hold? That’d be Nadal.
Sloane Stephens, USA Rank: 16 Age: 20
She’s no outsider, but Sloane could make a massive breakthrough at the US Open this year. The 20-year-old has had a solid summer making the third round in Cincinnati on the shoulders of an upset over 2013 BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova in a dramatic three sets. Last week in New Haven, Stephens had another strong showing, beating the formidable Julia Goerges before falling to 2011 Indian Wells winner Caroline Wozniacki in two high-octane sets in the quarterfinals. After her semifinal appearance at the Australian Open, Stephens made the fourth round of the French and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Can go she go further in New York?
Milos Raonic, CAN Rank: 11 Age: 22
Like Isner, Raonic had had a decent 2013, but nothing to write home about. But when he arrived home three weeks ago at the Montreal Masters, Raonic came into his best self, downing Del Potro and Ernests Gulbis before falling to – you guessed it – Nadal. A week later, Raonic registered two more great wins, beating Jack Sock and Janko Tipsarevic before being taken out by Isner himself in Cincinnati. The Canadian has a booming game that is suited well by the quick courts of New York and Raonic could sneak through to the semifinals with Gasquet and David Ferrer in his quarter of the draw.
Simona Halep, ROU Rank: 19 Age: 21
No one, arguably, has had a better four months than Halep, who went into Rome in May as the world No. 65. But she qualified and made the semifinals there before running off four – yes, four! – WTA titles, (the first four of her career, mind you) capping that effort off just last week in New Haven against Petra Kvitova. Halep, who’s 30-5 in that time, makes her top 20 debut this week and, like Raonic, has a draw that could lend well to a late-tournament run with Wozniacki and Sara Errani in her quarter.
Jelena Jankovic, SRB Rank: 12 Age: 28
You can never count out the 2010 BNP Paribas Open champion, who is a former world No. 1 and can play with the best players on tour. The 28-year-old Serbian displayed just that two weeks ago in Cincinnati with a run to the semifinals that included wins over Stephens and Roberta Vinci. Jankovic then lost in a tight three-setter to 2012 Indian Wells winner Victoria Azarenka.
2013 BNP Paribas Open blogger Nicholas McCarvel is on site at Wimbledon this year and is giving his unique perspective to our fans. Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @NickMcCarvel.
From an outsider’s perspective, the BNP Paribas Open and Wimbledon couldn’t be more different. One is an historic, tradition-laiden event set in a sleepy residential neighborhood on the outskirts of a major European city while the other is a modern, sun-kissed event set surrounded by snow-capped mountains with spacious grounds in the always-warm Californian desert. But how do these two premier tennis events compare head-to-head? Let’s put them side by side.
Center of Attention
Centre Court at Wimbledon is perhaps one of the most famous courts in all of tennis, its ancient walls covered in climbing vines, but a new-age roof brings a sort of cathedral feeling to the space that has witnessed so many epic battles. Stadium Court in Indian Wells is the world’s second biggest tennis arena behind Arthur Ashe Stadium – bigger than any other Grand Slam venue – making the tennis feel larger than life from courtside and from the last row in the stadium. Centre Court keeps an intimate feel, though the sightlines in both are flawless: there’s not a bad seat in the house.
Check our more great features of these two prestigious events AFTER THE JUMP
For the first time in history, both of the reigning BNP Paribas Open Champions will take the court at Roland Garros as the defending French Open Champions, as well. Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova each made statements at the 2012 French Open and 2013 BNP Paribas Open, and although each statement was different, the historical impact of their respective runs to the titles cannot be overstated.
Rafael Nadal entered the 2012 French Open tied with Tennis Hall of Famer Bjorn Borg for most career titles on the terre battue – each considered the “King of Clay” in their respective eras, Nadal and Borg both had six titles in Paris. Nadal, however, stormed to the 2012 title, dropping only one set en route, to become the outright French Open titles leader. Since his first showing at Roland Garros in 2005 (which he won), the Spaniard is 52-1, the only loss coming to an in-form Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round.
The storylines were aplenty during this year’s BNP Paribas Open as the best tennis players in the world descended on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the biggest event outside of the Grand Slams. From the comeback of Rafael Nadal to continued success for Maria Sharapova, we break down 16 storylines that kept us watching on the blog.
Rafa’s Outrageous Run | What a fighter Rafael Nadal is. After a seven-month layoff, the Spaniard came back to tennis in February and was simply unbeatable in two weeks at the BNP Paribas Open, conquering Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro on his way to the title – his third in Indian Wells and record 22nd Masters 1000 trophy. His five wins here pushed his 2013 record to 17-1 and the win over Del Potro marked his 13th straight over a Top 10 opponent, dating back to Indian Wells 2012. The quarterfinal victory over Federer was an electric affair Thursday night as nearly every seat inside Stadium 1 filled up to witness the 29th edition of Federer vs. Nadal. | WATCH:Rafa and Rog’s Journey to Main Stadium | Read the Rog-Rafa Wrap-Up
Sharapova’s Repeat… 7 Years Later | It is the longest gap between two BNP Paribas Open titles, but that didn’t seem to bother Maria Sharapova much. The 2006 champion here won it again in 2013 in scintillating fashion, not dropping a set in six matches and losing just 28 games. Her blistering final performance against Caroline Wozniacki gave her a WTA title for the 11th consecutive year, the longest streak among any active player. | MORE: Sharapova on the Blog | Wozniacki
Del Potro Stops Djokovic Streak
It was a win in the semifinals that few expected as Juan Martin Del Potro beat Novak Djokjovic in three sets, snapping a win streak of 22 matches for the world No. 1 and top seed. Del Potro’s victory over Andy Murray a round earlier had raised plenty of eyebrows, and the Argentine’s effort at Indian Wells welcomed him back as a true contender among the top men in 2013. Djokovic’s streak stretched into 2012 and included the ATP World Tour Finals, the Australian Open and a win in Dubai last month.
Woznaicki’s Third Final in Four Years
How much does Caroline Wozniacki love Indian Wells? A lot. The former world No. 1 won the title at the BNP Paribas Open in 2011 and reached her third final in four years by overcoming Angelique Kerber in three thrilling sets (she lost to Ana Ivanovic in the 2010 final). The No. 8 seed broke a three-match losing streak against Kerber with the semifinal win, assuring her she’d move a spot higher to No. 9 in the world following the tournamen. | Q&A:5 Minutes with Kerber | GUEST BLOG: Sam Stosur
At Long Last, A Win for the Bryan Bros.
You can teach old dogs new tricks, after all. Bob and Mike Bryan had been to the final twice before at the BNP Paribas Open but the Southern California natives had never won it in 15 overall tries. That changed Saturday night as the hometown boys finally captured the crown here, a goal they had set at the beginning of the 2013 season.
6 Months Away, Fish Flies Again
The feel-good story of the BNP Paribas Open was Mardy Fish‘s marked return to the game, six months after he pulled out of the US Open and left competition because of complications from a heart issue. Fish won a second round match against Bobby Reynolds in three sets, then played toe-to-toe with No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round before falling. He also teamed up with fellow American James Blake to win a pair of thrilling doubles matches. | ALSO:James Blake on Fatherhood
382,227: Another Attendance Record
Fans came streaming into the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in droves once again for the BNP Paribas Open, this time in record numbers, far surpassing the 370,000 that came to the tournament a year ago. | MORE:Ballkids Excel Once Again
Breaking Ground for Stadium 2 Expansion
Just you wait until next year. Tractors have already begun to move in on the grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as a new 8,000-seat Stadium 2 will be up in time for the 2014 BNP Paribas Open. Additionally, a 19,000-square foot shade structure, two in-stadium restaurants and more parking and garden space. | MORE:On the Expansion
The Battle of the Marias
It was Sharapova vs. Kirilenko in the semifinals, marking a rematch of their quarterfinal clash at Indian Wells from a year ago. But this time Maria Kirilenko registered four straight three-set wins – including over No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5 Petra Kvitova – to make it to her first-ever semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open. It was the eventual champion who came out on top, however, Sharapova subduing her compatriot 6-4, 6-3. | WATCH:Quizzing the WTA Stars
Querrey is Last American Standing Sam Querrey is the new man to beat. The 23-year-old Southern California native won one of the tournament’s longest matches when he beat Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 7-5 in two hours, 47 minutes to solidify his spot in the fourth round. He’d fall there to Djokovic in a tough two sets, but with the round of 16 effort is the new American No. 1, the 13th man to hold such a distinction.
Taylor Townsend’s Arrival
Welcome to pro tennis, Taylor Townsend! The 16-year-old American is a rising star after claiming two junior Grand Slams and finishing 2012 as the top-ranked girl in the world. But Townsend made her WTA debut at Indian Wells here this year and shocked world No. 57 – ranked 414 places ahead of her – Lucie Hradecka 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 inside Stadium 1. Her leaps of joy after the win would be a welcome sight in the California Desert in years to come.
Gulbis Wins Five
Greetings, Ernests Gulbis. His name is one that has been known among diehard tennis fans for a few years now, but five match wins (including two in qualifying) at the BNP Paribas Open and a nail-biting loss to Nadal helped cement his name to memory among sports fans. Gulbis biting wit and free-for-all forehand are two aspects that make him one of tennis’ stars to watch and it was Nadal who actually snapped a 13-match win streak for the Latvian, who had won the title at Delray Beach the week prior.
Hewitt Wows Once Again
Two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Lleyton Hewitt is still one of tennis’ most hard-fighting grinders. He showed that in a second round match against 2012 finalist John Isner, winning 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 before a wowed Stadium 1 weekend crowd. Hewitt, now 32, tracked down ball after ball from the big-serving Isner, who stands 6-foot-9. The Australian lost in round three to Stanislas Wawrinka.
Burdette Keeps on Coming
American Mallory Burdette is one to watch in the future. After making the third round of the US Open last year, the Stanford standout left school to pursue a pro career on tour. Six months later she makes the third round at Indian Wells, taking eventual semifinalist Kirilenko to three sets. The hard-hitting Georgia native won two matches in qualifying to make the main draw, as well.
Date-Krumm Doesn’t Tire
At 42 years old, Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm was playing in the BNP Paribas Open in both singles and doubles – 22 years after she played the event for the first time. She paired with Australian Casey Dellacqua to march to the doubles semifinal before losing to eventual winnersEkaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
The Stars Come Out to Indian Wells Gladys Knight, David Robinson, Kevin Spacey. You name them, they came. Other well-known names including Kate Walsh, Bill Gates, tournament owner Larry Ellison and Gavin Rossdale took in tennis in the California desert at some point throughout the two weeks. Even legendary tennis writer Bud Collinsmade an appearance.
Here a Blog, There a Blog
It may not have been as glamorous as the tennis, but my blog posts throughout the week chronicled my first-ever experience at Indian Wells, as I tried to encapsulate the many wonders of the BNP Paribas Open. The Bryan brothers on Stadium 2? Loved it. Up close and personal practice sessions? The best. And a behind-the-scenes look at players in press after their matches was as revealing to me as I hope it was to all you. Oh and the upper deck of Stadium 1? Thumbs up, my friends.
Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova are your 2013 BNP Paribas Open singles champions. See how the championship day played out below.
Photo of the Day: Pure jubilation for Rafael Nadal.
And: A happy Maria Sharapova.
Match of the Day:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) def.  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
There was no stopping Rafa at the BNP Paribas Open in 2013. Following his rousing victories over Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in the previous two rounds the Spaniard fought off a thrilling challenge from Del Potro, who was hitting his monstrous forehand as big as ever to gain a 6-4, 3-1 lead. But Nadal would not wilt, winning the final five games of the second set and breaking early in the third to gain control of the match. The 26-year-old served out the win after having three championship points in the previous game, his emotion apparent as he fell to the ground with arms overstretched following the win.
Honorable Mention:  Maria Sharapova (RUS) def.  Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6-2, 6-2
When Sharapova is on, she’s one of the hardest players to be in tennis. She certainly was on Sunday in the final against Wozniacki, who had beaten her twice before in six meetings. But the Russian’s powerful game was too much for the Dane in this final, the first time they met for a trophy. Sharapova thwacked 33 winners in the scintillating performance, which gave her a WTA title for the 11th consecutive year, the most among any active players.
Tweet of the Day: All eyes on Sharapova? The 2013 BNP Paribas Open champion turned the lens on the camera men and women who cover the tournament after her tournament victory, tweeting out this picture of them all together.
Quote of the Day: Asked about the difference between her 2006 title and this one, Sharapova had this to say: “I don’t think I have gray hairs yet, but … I’m still very lucky that I’m here and that I’m still doing it and that I still love it and have the passion to do it. I feel like I’m a different player. I’m a much more experienced player. I have learned so much over the years. But it’s nice to hold up that trophy after so many years.”
Fact of the Day: With his win on Sunday, Nadal earns his 600th career ATP World Tour victory in 13 years on the tour. The 26-year-old Spaniard notched his 22nd Masters Series 1000 title, giving him the most of any player – in history. The win also gave him a 13th straight victory over a top 10 opponent, dating back to Indian Wells a year ago.
Plus: After another 16,000-plus came to watch the tennis Sunday, the tournament announced that it set an attendance record with 382,227 people streaming through the gates for the event in total.
It was a record-setting day in many ways for Rafael Nadal, who claimed his third BNP Paribas Open in seven years in a dramatic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Juan Martin Del Potro at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The win was extra sweet for Rafa, who had been away from tennis for seven months before returning in February.