Most of the best tennis players in the world do like getting some time off but when Indian Wells comes around, there is no other place they rather be. The tournament that celebrates its 40th anniversary, runs from March 9 to the 22 at Indian Wells, California.
It is one of the few non-Grand Slam tournaments where the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) collide throughout the year. So it is one of those rare chances to see the best of both genders battle it out on the tennis courts. This year, on the men’s side, 18 out of the top 20 players were registered to play. In the women’s side, only three out of the top 20 are not in the mix.
The weather in not expected to disappoint. California, unlike the east side of the country, is warming up quickly around this time of the year. The weather, the atmosphere and the high level of tennis displayed throughout the two weeks of competition surely invites any tennis lover to stay tuned.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST YEAR
The tournament, that was originally staged in Arizona, made a brief stop in Florida for a few years before coming back to the west coast. It was until 1987 when both men and women were invited to participate. What you could find fascinating about it, is that the complex in which the tournament was played grew around the idea of adequating a La Quinta Hotel to a place for tennis to host its biggest stars. The organizers at that time already envisioned the success it has today.
In 2000, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened its doors. Changes to the venue are constantly made, but the essence of the tournament remain the same. Attendance for the event keeps growing every year. In 2014, 431,527 people witnessed what went on. The main stadium seats around 16,100 fans and it is not unusual to see it sell out. The complex has a total of 20 practice courts and nine stadium courts. It was voted as ATP Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year in 2014.
The tournament is scheduled around the halfway point between the Australian Open and the Roland Garros. The ATP follows it with the Irving Classic and the Miami Open which is also in the schedule of the WTA. Players don’t seem to care about the jet lag that comes with trying to make it to California. They all want to be there as it is a great opportunity for developing talent to show what they are made off.
There are many storylines that will be unfolding at this tournament. One that might catch most people’s attention is Rafael Nadal’s return to action after a long injury break. The Spaniard has shown fans, time and time again he can come back from almost everything. Novak Djokovic is the man to beat as he is the reigning champion. Watch out for Kei Nishikori who is Nick Bollettieri’s favorite student at the time. The Japanese player has won 10 out of his last 11 games since the Aussie Open. Roger Federer reached the final last year but is not expected to do so this year. While Andy Murray is also going through at hot streak, experts don’t see him getting past the quarter-finals and give Novak the win before he even plays a game.
On the women’s side things always tend to be a bit more exciting. Serena Williams should not have too many difficulties reaching the final and most likely to win it. She has not played at this Open since her win in 2001. Victoria Azarenka wants to get back to being the #1 player in the world. How bad does she want it will be judged on how she does in this venue. While injuries seem to be her biggest concern, her fighting spirits is her biggest weapon. Based on how the brackets are set up, she could face Maria Sharapova in the third round. That would be a big test for both of them prior to reaching the final stages of the tournament. I believe Sharapova has a clear advantage by the way she’s been playing lately. Watch out and don’t underestimate Caroline Wozniacki, she has talent and just ran the New York City Marathon. Never underestimate a marathoner. She can have one of those weeks where even Willams would not want to be in front of her. It all depends on how she warms up early in the tournament. The women’s side is always more unpredictable that the men’s side.
Last thing I’ve got to say is that you must keep up with what happens at Indian Wells. I can already tell you will like what you see.