Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open saw twelve players advance to the main draw through qualifying, while top players were practicing and talking to the media.
Emma Raducanu is making her Indian Wells debut after receiving a main-draw
wildcard. The Briton stunned the tennis world in US Open last month by becoming the first qualifier in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title. This will be her first tournament since then and just the fifth tour-level event of her career.
The 18-year-old Raducanu is currently without a permanent coach, as she ended the partnership with Andrew Richardson who led her to her maiden major title. In Indian Wells, she is accompanied by Jeremy Bates.
US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez is also in Indian Wells for the first time. The Canadian has a first-round bye as the No.23 seed.
Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 singles champion, returns to the desert looking to become the first player to defend the title here since Martina Navratilova in 1991. Two years ago, the Canadian took the tennis world by storm with a playstyle fitting of a future GOAT. She became the first wildcard to win the women’s singles at Indian Wells and at 18 years old, the youngest champion since Serena Williams in 1999.
Karolina Pliskova, this year’s ace leader with 381 aces, enters Indian Wells as the top seed for the first time, on her seventh main-draw appearance. The Czech is a two-time semifinalist here (2016 and 2017).
The No.1 seed has won the Indian Wells title eleven times, most recently in 2012 when Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova in the final. The top seed has lost in her opening match twice (R64 w/1r bye) – Kim Clijsters in 2002 and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2010.
Coco Gauff was supposed to make her debut at the BNP Paribas Open last year, but the tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. The American is now back in the desert, as the No.15 seed.
The 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek is also awaiting her first appearance in the BNP Paribas Open main draw, as the second seed. In 2019, the Pole lost in the second round of qualies.
Seventh seed Petra Kvitova was spotted training on Tuesday. The Czech has a potential third-round clash with fellow Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka.
Ons Jabeur is fresh off her runner-up finish at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. With 44 victories, the Tunisian is the WTA match win leader in 2021.
Paula Badosa is yet another big name who is playing in the BNP Paribas Open main draw for the first time. The world No.27 from Spain holds one WTA record in 2021: she dropped fewest games en route to a title, at the Serbia Ladies Open in Belgrade.
Twelve WTA qualifiers closed out their second match win on Tuesday. Those who dropped no sets in qualifying are Mai Hontama [JPN], Zarina Diyas [KAZ], Elena-Gabriela Ruse [ROM], Martina Trevisan [ITA], Kateryna Kozlova [UKR], and Anna Kalinskaya [RUS].
Two Americans have joined the main draw: Usue Maitane Arconada who faces No.47 Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round and Alycia Parks [USA] whose next opponent will be No.68 Arantxa Rus.
At the moment, the WTA Draw has holes like Swiss cheese as 32-players have round-one byes. Now that the qualifies have taken their place the big picture is coming into focus.
Probably the most compelling first-round matches are between former US Open champion, Sloane Stephens verses Heather Watson, Andrea Petkovic verses Yulia Putintseva and No. 53 Katerina Siniakova verses former No.1 and Grand Slam champion, Kim Clijsters who is back on tour at age 38. In addition, a young American clash is set between Amanda Anisimova and Katrina Scott.
Stephens has had a mixed bag of results this year ranging from round-of-128 losses to a round-of-16 appearance at Roland Garros and a semifinal appearance in Parma, Italy. On a good day, Sloane can hold her own with the best of the tour. We will see her form tomorrow as she takes on the accomplished Brit who has solid singles and doubles skills.
Matches begin at 11:00AM. Petkovic and Putintseva kick off Wednesday’s day session with Stephens and Watson following on center court. We will have to wait until Thursday to see what Clijsters can bring to the stage where she is a former two-time champion. (photos: Jimmie48)