It is referred to as “tennis paradise” and nothing could be more appropriate in describing the set up for the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It is an oasis in the Coachella Valley with the California desert and Santa Rosa mountains surrounding the venue. It is one of the greatest settings of any tournament in the world.
It is all so pristine with manicured lawns, even along the public areas on the roads and highways it is all trimmed with flowering plants and shrubs.
After two and a half years, the BNP Paribas is back.
Set across 54 acres and 29 courts, the centre court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with seating for 16,100, is second only in size to the Arthur Ashe Stadium used for the US Open as a purpose-built tennis court. The BNP Paribas Open, with over $US17million in prizemoney in 2021, is the biggest two-week tournament in the world after the four majors – the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The tournament, which was created by former players Charlie Pasarell and Ray Moore but now owned by Larry Ellison, one of the richest men in the world, has been played in the area since 1976. Normally it is staged in March but in 2020 it was cancelled just three days before the first ball was hit in the main draw because of Covid-19. It was postponed from March this year and for the first time it is being staged in the Autumn.
It is still pretty warm with temperature in the days leading up to the start of play still nudging 40 degrees Celsius. The mercury has calmed down a few degrees and it remains gloriously sunny.
The tournament was originally played in nearby Palm Springs and has moved around the Coachella Valley but since 2000 it has been in its permanent home of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and since then over 6.7million people have enjoyed the experience of tennis in the desert.
In 2019 when it was last played, the singles champions were Bianca Andreescu, who went on to win the US Open that year, and Dominic Thiem who beat Roger Federer for his first Masters 1000 title. Sadly, Domi is not here to defend his title as he is still getting over his wrist injury, but he did post a message to say he does not need surgery, which is good news.
And while the tournament is also without the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Ash Barty, Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka who does not want the vaccination and unfortunately has incurred Covid-19, it is still full of stars that will enlighten any court. The exciting part is that this is a fantastic opportunity for fans to see the amazing players that will take over from players like the “Big Three”.
Fans get the chance to be up close and personal with players as they watch them on the practice courts or watch them on the “green” playing football or training. This is such a relaxed atmosphere and setting.
Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu are two of the hottest names in tennis at the moment and especially so since winning the US Open. Medvedev is one of the best personalities in the sport and what a player he is. The world No.2 is destined to ascend to No.1, and he will carry that load superbly.
Raducanu has developed an incredible social media following – her Instagram following has gone to 2 million and her Twitter following is more than 607,000.
Without the Big Three and incredible players like Barty and Williams at Indian Wells, there is the opportunity for more focus on the likes of Daniil, Emma, Leylah Fernandez, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and so many more. That can only be a good thing for tennis and provides a pointer to the future which is definitely an exciting prospect.
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