The ATP Tour and WTA Main Draw for this year’s BNP Paribas Open is officially out following two separate ceremonies over the past two days and various potential and must-see matchups have emerged.
While the withdrawal of Juan Martin del Potro proved to be disappointing, to say the least, as we will not see the ‘Tower of Tandil’ defending his title this year; the Big 3 of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer looks to be as promising as ever as they re-engage in a promising tournament yet again.
Over at the women’s side, an in-form Naomi Osaka, who has won the last two Grand Slam events at the US Open and Australian Open, will be challenged by Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens, and the resurgent Serena Williams in her first title defense at the Coachella Valley.
But, before the main draw action begins at the desert this week, here are five of the most notable talking points in this year’s first ATP Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event:
1. A masterful ‘Big 3’
Over the last two decades, tennis’ big guns in the men’s tour have always been ruled by Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer—who have split all of the Grand Slam tournaments over the last two years among themselves.
This year is no different.
After a commanding start to the year, Djokovic is expected to win the tournament as he is having the best momentum after all with wins in the last three Grand Slam events.
Nadal, though, despite reaching the final of the Australian Open, had an early second round exit at Acapulco after losing against eventual champion Nick Kyrgios.
Regardless, the Mallorcan, a winner of three times in Indian Wells, looks to solidify his lead at the all-time Masters 1000’s winner race by trying to win his record-extending 34th Masters 1000 title.
Federer, meanwhile, will try to get back on the Top 3 after slipping down the rankings early this year after failing to defend his title at Melbourne.
The Swiss Maestro, who is seeded fourth, is fresh from winning his 100th title at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships last week after a 6-4, 6-4 victory over his Australian Open conqueror and Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Federer and Nadal is inside the blockbuster bottom half of the draw and a potential semifinal against the two tennis titans could be in sight.
2. New-look Naomi
Current WTA world number one Naomi Osaka heads to Indian Wells fresh from securing a back-to-back Grand Slam title.
But, despite the court success that the Japanese currently enjoys, it cannot be disregarded however that the first Asian world number one has been to some kind of off-court drama, recently.
Two weeks after splitting with Sasha Bajin, Osaka named USTA national coach Jermaine Jenkins as her new mentor in her title defense at the desert, and while she just came off a disappointing campaign in Dubai, the odds could very well move in her favor in this fortnight.
As the top seed, Osaka is drawn at the top half of the draw where a potential semifinal against third seed and her Australian Open foe Petra Kvitova awaits.
3. Djokovic’s dominance continues?
Speculations on whether Novak Djokovic could regain his invinsible form echoed loud noise at this point of time last year after yielding a first round defeat against Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.
However, in just a span of 12 months, the Serb washed out all those questions after reclaiming the world number one position off three straight Grand Slam titles since last year’s Wimbledon.
Djokovic comes to the Coachella Valley with a lengthy rest from his Australian Open title bid and looks in-form to tie Nadal’s record of 33 Masters 1000’s titles.
The five-time titlist is expected to move past his quarter at the top half of the draw without any real competition except on third round where he could potentially square off against the spotty Kyrgios.
4. Finding Serena
Since winning the Indian Wells title as a 17-year old, Serena Williams has never been as successful at the desert for already 18 years.
But, while her last victory here travels back to as far as 2001, Williams has nonetheless become a force to reckon with over the last two decades, winning 23 major titles over that span.
Williams’ run of impeccable tennis was halted in 2017 when she conceived pregnancy to her daughter Olympia, but since she came back, she had already made it through two Grand Slam finals and even almost had another championship appearance Down Under before succumbing to Kvitova at the semis despite having match point at 5-1.
This year, though, as Williams returns to the Top 10, the most decorated woman tennis player in the last 20 years will try to win her third title at the ‘Tennis Paradise’ and finally snap her two-year title drought.
Williams is drawn at Stephens’ quarter at the bottom half of the draw and could become entangled once again in a blockbuster affair against former world number one Victoria Azarenka at the second round.
5. The youth revolution
Tennis’ theme over the last two years have revolved around the arrival of the next generation of players in both the ATP and WTA Tour.
With the denouement of this year’s first Grand Slam event in Melbourne, the youth revolution proved to be stronger than ever as various notable rising stars made progressive strides.
Expected to lead the charge of the new generation of tennis talents are third seed Alexander Zverev, Tsitsipas, and Frances Tiafoe in the men’s side, while Osaka and last year’s runner-up Daria Kasatkina, Amanda Anisimova, and Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins will banner the women’s youth.
Zverev features in a heavyweight quarter with South African Kevin Anderson along with Grigor Dimitrov, Alex de Minaur, Milos Raonic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Sam Querrey, and Tsitsipas at the men’s side.
Meanwhile, Kasatkina is under Halep’s bookend in the women’s singles while the other young female tennisters spread the draw in an open field.
For more information about the BPPO2019 draw, click here.