The BNP Paribas Open draw was held on Monday and main draw action will get underway on Wednesday for the first Premier Mandatory tournament of 2017. The influx of pictures the weekend before Indian Wells never fails to make me jealous and begin considering a trip to Palm Springs!
Once again, it looks like it will be a fun fortnight for WTA fans just trying to stream matches. I was hoping for an announcement about streaming, before one of the biggest tournaments of the year, but that was wishful thinking! Chuck in the eight hour time difference and it’s going to be another challenging tournament to follow – as always i’ll do my best to keep up…
The draw for Indian Wells has thrown up some *potential* crackers early on. This is always an odd tournament since the 32 seeds all have byes into the second round. Since there is so much uncertainty with this draw, this is very much a sweeping preview with a focus on the records in the desert for the seeds. Conditions are unique at Indian Wells (slow courts and thin air) so past performance may be more noteworthy than usual. One thing I always remember with Indian Wells is to expect the unexpected with the results…
The full draw for Indian Wells can be found HERE.
Note – This preview has been edited to take account of the draw reshuffle on Tuesday night.
Pliskova takes Serena’s position at the top of the draw: In a late draw reshuffle following Serena Williams’s withdrawal from Indian Wells, Karolina Pliskova was bumped up to her position of the draw. While Jelena Ostapenko was previously a potential second round opponent, she’ll now be in line to possibly play Monica Puig in the second round…. first thoughts were not easy but Pliskova hasn’t dropped a set against Puig in three previous encounters.
All-Swiss R3 Battle? – I’m all over the possibility of a third round encounter and first ever meeting between Timea Bacsinszky and Belinda Bencic. Bencic has got hosed with several draws this year but this looks workable. Tsvetana Pironkova is first up, a player she has never lost to in three previous encounters (two of those were on grass). The winner gets the number 18 seed, Kiki Bertens, who has lost her last five matches on tour. Bacsinszky could have her hands full with nemesis, Monica Niculescu in the second round although she has produced come-from-behind wins in their last two encounters, both at Wimbledon.
The return of Keys in a super fun section – I’m thrilled to see Madison Keys back for the first time in 2017 although the draw and conditions may not be ideal – she’ll get a qualifier in her first match back. There’s also a coming-back-from-injury, Carla Suárez Navarro, the talented duo of Naomi Osaka and Katerina Siniakova, and seeds, Caroline Wozniacki and Zhang Shuai. in this section I’ll be tracking this one closely for sure…
Halep’s back – Early signs appear to be promising for Simona Halep who has been bothered by a knee injury in 2017 but is set to return at Indian Wells. A potential third rounder against either Kristina Mladenovic or Eugenie Bouchard would be a match worthy of circling in thick red ink.
Dangers in the draw for Radwanska – 2017 hasn’t started so well for Radwanska and there are some early dangers in her draw with the likes of Ekaterina Makarova, Acapulco champion, Lesia Tsurenko and her conqueror at last year’s US Open, Ana Konjuh. Based on recent form, she’ll do well to reach the last 16.
Venus-JJ R2? – A nostalgic trip down memory lane could be on the cards if Jelena Jankovic gets past Irina Falconi in the first round and sets up a second rounder against Venus Williams. Jankovic leads their head-to-head, 7-6, but they’ve played just once in the last five years.
Records in the Desert
The last couple of tournaments in Doha and Dubai have all been stinkers for Angelique Kerber in terms of records and that’s kind of the case with Indian Wells for the number two seed – while she did make back-to-back semi-finals in 2012 and 2013, Kerber has lost her last four matches in the desert.
Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska have all had excellent results at Indian Wells in the last few years – for Halep, her title in 2015 is the biggest of her career so far and in 2016, this tournament marked the start of her rejuvenation after a stuttering start marred by injuries. Garbiñe Muguruza is the only top eight seed not to have reached at least the quarter-finals in Indian Wells. While the number eight seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova reached back-to-back finals in 2007 and 2008, she has posted a 5-8 W-L record from 2008 and hasn’t made it past the third round since then.
From seeds 9 to 16, Madison Keys and Elena Vesnina are the only players to have not advanced past the fourth round. In fact, Vesnina fell at the first round of qualifying last year to Julia Boserup and has only won back-to-back matches once at Indian Wells. In stark contrast, this tournament has been a happy hunting ground for Caroline Wozniacki who is a former champion and reached at least the fourth round every year between 2008 and 2014. While she has won just one match in her last two appearances, Wozniacki arrives this year with renewed confidence and seemingly in full fitness.
Barbora Strycova’s first and most recent performances at Indian Wells were her highlights, reaching the last 16 in 2004 and 2016. The Czech player has posted consistently solid results at the big tournaments in the last year or so. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also produced her best performance in a first showing in 2009 when she reached the semi-finals – since then, she hasn’t advanced past the third round of Indian Wells in seven tries.
CoCo Vandeweghe, Roberta Vinci and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni have all played the tournament many times and mostly without great success with none of the trio ever reaching the quarter-finals. It is apparent many of the seeds are relatively inexperienced at Indian Wells – Ana Konjuh is seeded but will be playing the main draw for the first time in her career, while Timea Babos has never made it past the first round.