Top ATP and WTA Players Gear Up for Indian Wells
The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the first stop in a swing of US tournaments, is kicking off this week. As a WTA Premier Mandatory and ATP Masters 1000 event, the tournament draws the biggest stars and young upshots into the desert. Last year’s blockbuster finals saw Naomi Osaka win her maiden title and Juan Martin Del Potro win his first Masters 1000 title. With both tours’ fields as wide open as ever, there is hardly a favorite so speak of at this stage.
Ahead of the competition, top players were relaxed speaking with press ahead. Karolina Pliskova  was particularly easy going in her approach, plainly saying “I’m not thinking about the title, we’re at the beginning.” She particularly enjoys Indian Wells, telling press it is one of the places she feels most motivated, not just on center Court but at practice as well. Kiki Bertens  has less historical success at the tournament, but smiled when looking back at last year’s event, where she lost to Serena Williams in the second round: “I can only improve.” Angelique Kerber  was highly focused as she talked through what she needs to do to succeed in the coming weeks. Kerber had taken some time for training blocks to prepare for the Sunshine Double, the grueling schedule that has players jet to Miami right from Indian Wells. She arrived at Indian Wells four days ahead of her first match to acclimate to the high desert, where wind and sun are strong factors, along with a slow court and high flying but heavy balls.
Taking his time to get acclimated to the conditions, Roger Federer  was one of the first top players to arrive in Indian Wells. He lost in the tournament's final last year but was not worried about the points he has to defend. Federer described earning his 100th title in Dubai as “a chance to reflect” on his long career so far and is grateful he passed the hurdle on his first attempt. Without the major milestone looming, he is eager to get back on court and fight for his 101st title. He faces the winner of Peter Gojowczyk and Andreas Seppi for his second-round match, having received a bye for the first.
The first-round women’s matches that began Wednesday morning featured a mix of familiar faces and what may well be the future of women’s tennis. Johanna Konta kicked off the WTA’s first round with a 6-2, 6-3 center court victory over Parmentier Wednesday. Despite the presence of greats like Serena Williams in the draw, the tournament offers a great opportunity for some young players, with five teenagers in the WTA draw, including 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova. She entered the tournament with a wild card and won her first-round match over Aleksandra Krunic 6-0, 6-4.
The ATP portion of the tournament starts Thursday.