Since the opening of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2000, more than 6.7 million fans have experienced the rise of some of tennis’ most storied figures and surprising victors. From dominant displays from World No. 1’s to breathtaking Cinderella runs that no one could have predicted, those in attendance at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden have been witness to many of the game’s most incredible moments.
Before we say Welcome To the 2020 BNP Paribas Open set to take place March 9 – 22 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive the last 20 years of our champions:
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden marks a new millennium. Everything changed in 2000, as the tournament welcomed a new home for a new millennium. The newly constructed Indian Wells Tennis Garden hosted its first ever full two-week event, along with a loaded player field that featured World No. 1’s Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis as well as Pete Sampras, Monica Seles and more. Fans congregated in the brand new 16,100 seat Stadium 1 to witness incredible finals performances from Lindsay Davenport and Àlex Corretja. Davenport defeated Martina Hingis to claim her second title in the desert, while Corretja continued his upward trajectory after reaching a career-high ranking of World No. 2 in 1999.
A year for the Americans, in present and future. On both the men’s and women’s sides, American champions took the 2001 tournament by storm. The difference was that while one was adding accolades to an already hall of fame resumé, the other was simply getting started. By 2001, Andre Agassi had already won six of his eventual eight Grand Slam trophies and spent years on top as the World No. 1. He beat fellow American compatriot Pete Sampras in the final and collected his first title in Indian Wells. In stark contrast on the women’s side, Serena Williams beat Kim Clijsters and began her journey towards becoming arguably the greatest women’s player in the history of the sport. While she was by no means an unknown figure at the time, she had won only one of her eventual 23 Grand Slam singles titles to date and was just beginning to scratch the surface on how truly great she would become.
Two new champions in the desert. The tournament became officially known as the Pacific Life Open presented by the City of Indian Wells, and a new name was accompanied by two new titlists in the desert. Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt downed Tim Henman in dominant straight set fashion, while relative unknown Daniela Hantuchová upset Martina Hingis to claim the women’s crown. While he had not previously triumphed in Indian Wells, Hewitt’s victory was no surprise as he had recently won the 2001 US Open trophy and would go on to do the same at Wimbledon in the summer of 2002. For Hantuchová, 2002 was undoubtedly the greatest year of her career. Her victory at the Indian Wells Masters was her first ever WTA title, and also marked the lowest-ranked player to ever win the tournament at the time.
Dominant displays from perennial favorites. There were no surprises this year, as perennial favorites Kim Clijsters and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt continued to cement their legacies as legends of the sport. For Clijsters, her 2003 season was nothing short of spectacular. Not only did she win French Open and Wimbledon titles to go along with Indian Wells, she amassed an overall record of 90-12 and held the World No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles. On the men’s side, Hewitt became a back-to-back champion by defeating Gustavo Kuerten while surrendering only two total games in the final.
The rise of a legend. In 2004, a player by the name of Roger Federer won the men’s event for the first time in his career. Similar to Kim Clijsters in the year prior, Federer would put together one of the most incredible single seasons in the history of tennis. During the 2004 season, he became the first person to claim three Grand Slam singles titles since Mats Wilander in 1988. His 11 overall singles victories were the most by any player in two decades, and he finished the season by reaching the year-end World No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career. On the women’s side, Belgian Justine Henin continued to establish herself as a dominant force. Having ascended to World No. 1 for the first time in 2003, she notched another impressive accolade to go along with three Grand Slam titles with a victory in Indian Wells.
Repeat champions go two for two. Both Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters claimed their second career titles in Indian Wells. As the World No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion, Federer showcased his championship mettle by traversing a tough player field all the way to a victory over fellow two-time champion Lleyton Hewitt. Clijsters once again emerged triumphant in a repeat of the 2003 final, downing Lindsay Davenport in a grueling three-set match.
Federer goes back-to-back-to-back. Roger Federer cemented himself as an unrivaled legend in Indian Wells by winning his third consecutive title in 2006, defeating James Blake in straight sets. At the time, no player on either the men’s or women’s sides had ever won three straight titles in the history of the tournament. Maria Sharapova claimed the women’s trophy, furthering her incredible climb to the top of the sport. She would go on to win several more titles throughout the year, most notably at the US Open.
Nadal gets acquainted with Indian Wells. Rafael Nadal formally welcomed himself to the desert by winning his first title of the season, beginning an incredible run to come over the next decade in Indian Wells. His defeat of Novak Djokovic foreshadowed a rivalry of epic proportions that would soon take center stage throughout the tennis universe. 2002 surprise women’s champion Daniela Hantuchová won for the second time in her career, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets.
Serbian takeover. Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic staked their claims in the desert with their first Indian Wells titles, defeating challengers Mardy Fish and Svetlana Kuznetsova respectively. For Djokovic, his win marked the first of his five Indian Wells trophies to date and began an unmatched run in the desert. Coming off the heels of his first career Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, he continued his ascent towards eventual World No. 1 with his second victory of the year.
BNP Paribas Open arrives. As the premier sponsor of tennis globally, BNP Paribas became the new title sponsor of the tournament and officially welcomed fans to Tennis Paradise. Incredible championship performances from Rafael Nadal and Vera Zvonareva commemorated the occasion, as the Spaniard took home his second title in a blazing straight set victory over Andy Murray while Zvonareva defeated reigning champion Ana Ivanovic for her first title in Indian Wells.
35th Anniversary met with new owner and new champions. A new decade brought a host of memorable changes to the BNP Paribas Open, as the tournament celebrated its 35th anniversary along with gaining a new owner in Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, whilst also welcoming two novel champions in Jelena Janković and Ivan Ljubičić. As several of the top seeds on both the men’s and women’s sides withdrew from the tournament, Jankovic and Ljubičić each took the opportunity to claim their first titles of the year.
Djokovic gets his revenge. As Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal continued to win title after title at tournaments across the globe, the pair would once again meet in the final in the desert. In a rematch from 2007 with a different outcome, Djokovic triumphed in three sets to win his second career BNP Paribas Open trophy. The women’s title was claimed for the first time by Caroline Wozniacki, who downed France’s Marion Bartoli in straight sets.
Azarenka continues her perfect year. You would be hard pressed to find a better start to a year than Victoria Azarenka’s first few months of 2012. She won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, immediately followed by a victory at the Qatar Total Open as the World No. 1, and finally an impeccable run in Indian Wells that ended with a dominant win over Maria Sharapova. During that time, she went 23-0 and put the entire tennis world on notice. It was a familiar face on the men’s side, as Roger Federer returned to the winner’s circle with his fourth career BNP Paribas Open trophy.
Reigning French Open champions take over the desert. Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, each of whom were defending French Open champions, took home the gold with victories in Tennis Paradise. It was Nadal’s third and final Indian Wells title to date, as well as a record-breaking 22nd ATP Tour Masters 1000 title. On the women’s side, Sharapova won her second career BNP Paribas Open trophy by defeating another former champion in Caroline Wozniacki.
Djokovic’s threepeat begins. Along with the opening of a brand new, permanent 8,000-seat Stadium 2, Novak Djokovic would take his third win in the desert and begin a legendary three-year run in Tennis Paradise. The man he defeated in the final, Roger Federer, is the only other player in history achieve the feat Djokovic would go on to complete. Unlike the familiar faces on the men’s side, a surprise women’s final between Flavia Pennetta and Agnieszka Radwanska saw Pennetta emerge victorious in straight set fashion. It was undoubtedly the biggest win of her career and would propel her to a Grand Slam title at the following year’s US Open.
Simona Halep’s big break. While most tennis fans now consider Simona Halep one of the most formidable forces in the women’s game, it wasn’t always that way. While she had won a few titles before this year, nothing came close to her triumph at the BNP Paribas Open. The win marked the first Premier Mandatory title of her career and catapulted her to a new level in tennis. She would carry that momentum into her best Grand Slam finish to date: a semifinal berth at the US Open. It was more of the same for the men, as Novak Djokovic once again defeated Roger Federer to take his second consecutive Indian Wells title.
Djokovic matches and passes Federer. Novak Djokovic emerged victorious for the third consecutive year, matching Roger Federer as the only player to ever record a threepeat in the desert. While he drew level with the Swiss in that regard, he simultaneously passed him up by achieving his fifth career BNP Paribas Open trophy as compared to Federer’s four. Victoria Azarenka won for the second time in Tennis Paradise, defeating Serena Williams to match Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Daniela Hantuchová as well as Williams herself, as the only women to earn two trophies in the desert.
Federer returns to glory. A year after being passed by Novak Djokovic for the most titles in BNP Paribas Open history, the Swiss defeated fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka and evened the race with Djokovic at five wins apiece. Elena Vesnina and Svetlana Kuznetsova competed in an all-Russian women’s final, with the former claiming the trophy in a grueling three-set thriller.
Naomi Osaka in Full Bloom. Fans in Tennis Paradise were welcomed by an extensive beautification of the grounds including new palm trees and flowers, as well as the rise of two incredible new champions. Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro achieved a long overdue first Masters 1000 title of his career in a victory over Roger Federer, while Japan’s Naomi Osaka burst onto the scene with a decisive win against Daria Kasatkina. For Osaka, it was the start of many firsts throughout 2018. Her improbable victory in Indian Wells was her first overall WTA title, and the first Japanese player ever to win a Premier Mandatory title. She would go on to continue her breakthrough season by winning the US Open title in Flushing Meadows and stamp herself as one of the leaders of the next generation of women’s tennis.
Welcome to the big leagues Bianca. Last year’s BNP Paribas Open was one of the most thrilling in the tournament’s history, most notably for what happened on the women’s side of the draw. 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu put together a run for the ages, overcoming a loaded player field to become the first-ever female wild card to win the title. A complete unknown coming into the tournament, Andreescu made her first WTA title a victory to remember. Since March, the teenage phenom has continued to rise, most recently defeating Serena Williams in the final of the US Open in August. For the men, Dominic Thiem defeated Roger Federer to claim his first career ATP Masters 1000 title. A few months later, he would reach his first ever final at a Grand Slam, eventually falling to Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros final.