Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In Indian Wells
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
1. 30 Years of ATP Masters 1000s: The 2019 BNP Paribas Open ushers in the 30th year of ATP Masters 1000 tennis. Indian Wells is the first of nine elite events each year that unite the top players in the ATP Rankings. It is also one of seven ATP Masters 1000 events that have been part of the series since its start in 1990. The other originals are Miami, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati and Paris.
2. Back at his Best: Last year in Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic lost his opener to 109th-ranked qualifier Taro Daniel. What a different a year makes. Djokovic returns as the World No. 1 and champion of the past three Grand Slam tournaments and two of the last three ATP Masters 1000 events. Djokovic has not played since winning his seventh Australian Open title on 27 January.
3. Roger’s Records: Djokovic and Roger Federer are tied for the most BNP Paribas Open titles with five. Federer held three championship points to make it six before losing to Juan Martin del Potro in 2018. Recent memories are fonder for the Swiss, who on 2 March won his 100th tour-level title of his career at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Federer has defeated 50 different opponents for his 100 titles - 25 of whom are now retired.
4. Semi-Fedal: Rafael Nadal is also a five-time BNP Paribas Open champion with three singles and two doubles titles. Nadal and Federer are playing at the same ATP Tour event for the first time since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Federer is on a five-match win streak against Nadal, including a 6-2, 6-3 victory at 2017 Indian Wells. The living legends could meet in the semi-finals on 16 March.
5. Historic Start: Stefanos Tsitsipas is 15-5 to begin the 2019 season, highlighted by a win over Federer en route to the Australian Open semi-finals and his second ATP Tour title at the Open 13 Provence (d. Kukushkin). Tsitsipas, 20, became the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since Djokovic, 20, at the 2007 US Open. Though he fell to Federer in the Dubai final, Tsitsipas became the first Greek to break into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on 4 March.
6. Best of Next: Three #NextGenATP players are seeded in Indian Wells: No. 9 Tsitsipas, No. 23 Alex de Minaur and No. 24 Denis Shapovalov. All three youngsters won their BNP Paribas Open main draw debut in 2018. Australian Open quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe is also in the field.
7. Nick of Time: Nick Kyrgios went 10-10 in his past 20 matches entering the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC last week, where he saved three match points against Nadal and earned three Top-10 wins for the Acapulco title. Kyrgios could meet Djokovic in the third round after beating him in Acapulco and Indian Wells two years ago.
8. On the Rise: Like Kyrgios and Tsitsipas, Gael Monfils is in good form as he seeks his first ATP Masters 1000 title. Monfils is 11-2 since 5 February, highlighted by the second ATP 500 title of his career at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The 32-year-old Frenchman also reached semi-finals at the Sofia Open and Dubai.
9. Wild Cards: Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere and runner-up Felix Auger-Aliassime earned wild cards. Djere beat the #NextGenATP player Auger-Aliassime again at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo on 1 March. He is seeded 30th and ranked a career-high 32nd, while Auger-Aliassime is a career-high 58th.
10. Doubles Debuts: The Indian Wells doubles field features eight year-end Top 10 teams and seven duos making their debut. Djokovic and Fabio Fognini are among the first-time teams and will face fellow debutants Jeremy Chardy and Milos Raonic in the opening round. Tsitsipas is also doing double duty, joining forces for the first time with 46th-ranked doubles specialist Wesley Koolhof.