Desert Drama: The 2018 BNP Paribas Open
It’s a big two weeks in the desert as the BNP Paribas Open returns to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden starting Monday. This is generally regarded as the biggest and most important non-Slam of the tennis year. The event is designated as an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Event and a WTA Premier Mandatory Event. Big title, big money. Speaking of big money, a new thing this year: if a player wins the singles and doubles titles, they get a million dollar bonus!
Defending champion Elena Vesnina will be joined by other former event winners including Simona Halep (2015,) Caroline Wozniacki (2011) and Maria Sharapova (2006, 2013.) A number of top players will be looking for their first title in the desert, including 2017 Wimbledon Champion Garbiñe Muguruza and 2016 US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. US Open Champion Sloane Stephens will return to the desert after missing the event last year with an injury, while her opponent in that final, Madison Keys, will also look to capitalize on her strong showing in New York last August.
Two-time BNP Paribas Open champion (1999, 2001) Serena Williams makes her return to the tour following a 14-month absence surrounding the birth of her daughter. After reaching the semi-finals in 2015 and the finals in 2016, Williams will aim to become the first WTA player to win three singles titles at the BNP Paribas Open. In addition, her sister Venus will also return looking to improve upon her impressive run to the quarterfinals in 2017.
Defending champion Roger Federer has posted 57 match wins in the desert and collected five tournament titles (2004-2006, 2012, 2017), a feat matched only by Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2014-2016,) who also will be in the field. Federer’s year is already off to a great start with a repeat win Down Under. Grigor Dimitrov will look to continue the momentum from a strong 2017 season, and Nick Kyrgios will aim to take home his first Masters 1000 title after a strong start to the 2018 season that included a title in Brisbane. Rafa Nadal and Stan Wawrinka have withdrawn from the event, citing injury.
Here’s what last year looked like…
…and here’s what this year will look like, facility-wise.