1 | CALIFORNIA KID FRITZ BREAKS THROUGH… Taylor Fritz surprised a lot of people last October when he notched his first Top-5 win against Alexander Zverev to reach the semifinals. But that impressive performance pales in comparison to the stunning run that Fritz pulled off this week in California. Not only did he defeat Rafael Nadal to claim his biggest career title, he did it on the day when he had to cut his warm up short because his injured ankle was in too much pain. “I took a couple of change of direction steps and screamed,” Fritz recalled after defeating Nadal 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final. “Honestly, I was trying to act tough because I had cameras on me.” Fritz would get the ankle treated and head out to a secluded practice court to try it again. Lo and behold, he felt better, ready for the biggest final of his career. Several hours later, he was lying on his back, the throngs cheering wildly after he had completed his massive upset over the 21-time Grand Slam champion. “This is just one of those childhood dreams that you never even think could come true,” Fritz said, on the verge of tears. “I just can’t even – I just keep saying no, no, no way it’s real.”
2 | IGA’S COMING INTO HER OWN… Eleven straight wins (a tour-best 19 overall on the year), back-to-back titles in Doha and Indian Wells, a career-high No. 2 ranking — it’s all coming together for Iga Swiatek in 2022. The ambitious 20-year-old from Warsaw is one of the brightest young talents on the WTA Tour. Now aligned with coach Tomasz Wiktorowski and her sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, if she stays healthy, the sky’s the limit. “At the beginning of the tournament, I wouldn’t even think about winning, honestly. Of course, you have to believe in yourself, but I’m a realistic person, especially winning after playing so well in Doha is giving me a lot of confidence and belief that I can do it. I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who’s ready to play two tournaments in a row and win it. For sure, hard work is paying off. It’s the biggest tournament after the Grand Slams. The last couple of days have been really stressful for me. That’s another reason why I’m proud of myself that I made it.”
3 | RAFA’S HISTORIC START… Rafael Nadal’s personal best 20-0 start to the season, which now ranked third in the Open Era, may have come to an end in the Indian Wells final, but the 35-year-old continues to set new standards in the sport. The three-time BNP Paribas Open titlist (2007, 2009, 2013) won his record 403rd ATP Masters 1000 match in the semifinals. “Honestly, I wanted to make it perfect before clay,” said Nadal after his streak came to a halt in the final. “It has been very, very, very beautiful. Honestly, I am sad because the way I was not able to compete. It’s tough to have these feelings, every day, but in the especially in the final. But sport is not about talking about the past. We need to talk about today. And today is a difficult day for me, tough.”
4 | CARLITO’S WAY… You know you’re doing something right when a 21-time Grand Slam champions says he sees himself in you. That’s the case for 18-year-old sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who backed up the hype by becoming the youngest BNP Paribas Open semifinalist since Andre Agassi in 1988. His final-four opponent, Rafael Nadal, was plenty impressed after being pushed to three sets in a gusty all-Spanish clash for the ages. For the Mallorcan, it was almost like looking in the mirror: “The energy. The speed on the run. The amount of passion and determination that he has to become a great champion. That’s what I see in him. Looks like he’s humble enough to work hard and to understand that if we want to be great champions, the only way is to keep improving during all our careers. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I don’t have any doubt that he will be great. He is already, by the way.”
5 | THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING BIG FOR THE AMERICAN MEN? … The seven Americans in the third round of the 2022 BNP Paribas Open is the most at Indian Wells since 1994, and the seven Americans in the Top-50 ATP rankings coming into the tournament was the most since 2004. With a talented group of players aged 24 and under, it really feels like the American men could be poised for a renaissance in the coming years. Potential was on display all week, as Jenson Brooksby, Sebastian Korda and Reilly Opelka all made waves. Taylor Fritz led the pack, riding his booming serve and groundstrokes, becoming the first American to reach the men’s singles final in a decade. He’ll become the No.1-ranked American heading into Miami. “It’s just fun to be a part of,” said Frances Tiafoe. “This is our year. Guys are going to try to knock on the door of the Top 10. We’re all dangerous, everyone can do great things.”
6 | ANDY JOINS THE 700 CLUB… With 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 turnaround against Japan’s Taro Daniel, Andy Murray joined some elite company, becoming only the 18th man in the Open Era to hit the 700 match wins mark. “It means a lot to me because I know how difficult it’s been,” said the former No. 1 and three-time major champion, who underwent two hip surgeries and was on the verge of retirement. “When you look at the players that have done it, they’re certainly the best players of the last 30, 40 years. To be in amongst that is nice. I’ve seen the players that are between 700 and 800, and there’s some amazing players that I watched when I was growing up as a kid, some that I’m aware are the best players that ever played the game.”
7 | MARIA EARNED A DOUBLE-DOUBLE (OR TWO)… Rumors had it that eventual runner-up Maria Sakkari was spotted ordering not one but two Double-Doubles at In-N-Out Burger, just a good lob from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “The rumor is true, yeah,” confessed the 26-year-old Athenian with her trademark smile. “I don’t see anything weird about it. Sometimes I do it more than I have to, but in general I don’t. That was one of the days. I earned it! I’m a huge fan of cheeseburgers. I think it’s my go-to meal, especially when I come to the States.”
8 | JENSON BROOKSBY’S SUPERPOWER… Last year, Jenson Brooksby took a set off world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Arthur Ashe Stadium, then pushed Alexander Zverev to three sets at the BNP Paribas Open. The 21-year-old from California’s capital city returned to the desert in 2022 to take yet another step in his progression, scoring his first-ever Top-5 win with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the Round of 16. The Greek was clearly smarting after the loss. “He’s not a very explosive player…He’s not the most athletic player, as well…There’s nothing that he has that kills, I would say.” Well, Jenson might not be the flashiest of players, but his will to win is fast becoming one of the game’s elite weapons. “I think I’m definitely underestimated,” said Brooksby. “I think my super power would be exploiting weaknesses in other people.”
9 | THERE’S PARITY APLENTY IN THE WOMEN’S GAME… Hall of Famer Monica Seles, a nine-time Grand Slam champ and former No. 1, delighted in the parity that exists on the WTA Tour in 2022: “The women’s game is in a great place right now,” she told us. “Even as a former player, when I look at a draw, I have no clue who’s going to win it. I think that’s the story here also; the players are so close in terms of the level. On any given day, anybody can win the tournament, let’s say, compared to my era, when you had the few people who you kind of knew would be in the semifinals. It was much more predictable. I think it’s great for the sport, it’s great for the upcoming players who want to be on the tour one day to see that variety, to say, “If she can do it, I can do it.” It’s a great motivation for the players. What the WTA has done in terms of the growth of the sport is truly magical.”
Greatness in the house 🏠
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 17, 2022
10 | VIKA THE VOICE OF REASON… Leave it to 2021 runner-up Victoria Azarenka to offer words of wisdom in a time of global unrest. “One thing that’s missing in this world is compassion toward each other and empathy,” said the two-time Australian Open champion, 32. “That’s something I feel I can offer to people. I hope that other people start to implement something like that because we’re all human beings. That’s the most important, to take care of each other and help each other. That’s what life is about. I know it’s maybe wishful thinking at certain times, in times like this. But I think the core foundation of humanity shouldn’t be lost in any conflict. I think the violence is never justified in any case. Never will be in my eyes. I hope the compassion, the empathy, is something that we can grow more to avoid situations and conflicts happening in the world.”
11 | COMPLICATED KYRGIOS IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios certainly has his critics, but it’s hard to deny that he one of the most dynamic personalities in the sport today. He entered the BNP Paribas Open in a serene manner, telling reporters that he never felt better, mentally or physically. “I’m not thinking forward; I take it day by day, that’s my process. I wake up and try to be positive and try to be better every day.” Days later, he fell to Rafael Nadal in a dramatic battle, and left the tournament in a slightly agitated state of mind. “I feel like I’m helping the sport, I’m creating more attention and everyone who thinks that I’m bad for the sport is just an idiot. Like they have got, obviously, no idea,” he said. Over the last few years, Kyrgios has worked through mental health issues, and come to peace with who he is, both on and off the tennis court. He admits it is a work in progress: “I know that I’m staying true to myself, I know that I’m making small improvements. I feel healthy, my body feels good and I’ll just try and continue to be positive and be better and that’s it. That’s all I can do. It’s all I can control,” he said.
12 | BADOSA BACKS IT UP… Last year at Indian Wells, Spain’s Paula Badosa burst onto the scene engineering a title run for the ages, capped by a breathtaking victory over Victoria Azarenka in the final that was one of the best matches of the 2021 season and one of the most entertaining women’s singles finals in BNP Paribas Open history. Less than five months later, under immense pressure, Badosa backed up that result with an impressive run to the semifinals. Though the Spaniard fell short and saw her 10-match winning streak in the California desert come to an end against Maria Sakkari in three tight sets, she can hold her head high for a job well done. Badosa’s bruising baseline game is a perfect fit for the playing conditions at Indian Wells – she’ll be in the running for the title every time she plays here.
13 | ISNER/SOCK DOUBLE UP IN THE DESERT… For the second time in a span of four years, American wildcards John Isner and Jack Sock powered their way to the BNP Paribas Open men’s doubles title, dispatching Mexican-French duo of Santiago Gonzales and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final, 7-6(4), 6-3. The last time they took the trophy, Isner went on to win the singles at the Miami Open. “That’s going to be a tall task to do that again, but it did feel like we had a little unfinished business this year, because last year in October I had to skip town for the birth of my son 30 minutes before our second-round match,” said Isner, 36. “It’s good to come back here with Jack. We were fortunate enough to get a wildcard, and we won it all.”
14 | EMMA GETS FIRST WIN IN THE DESERT… After stumbling out of the blocks last year in her first appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, reigning US Open champ Emma Raducanu notched her first win at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The 19-year-old Brit flashed her solid ground game in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. “I think everyone just suddenly expected me to win everything,” said Raducanu, who bowed out with a 6-7(3) 6-4, 7-5 loss to Croat Petra Martic in Round 3. “I feel like now people are starting to realize it’s going to take some time for me to settle in. I feel like patience is a big thing. Once I settle in and go through all these highs and lows, I’ll find some sort of equilibrium.”
15 | THE STARS CAME OUT… From boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard to the husband-wife combo of actor Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor to tech innovator Bill Gates, the Stadium 1 seats were often full of A-listers, who reveled in the high-stakes matches.
16 | COCO IS AN ADULT… The wunderkind we were first introduced to on the lawns of the All England Club when, as a 15-year-old qualifier she upended her idol Venus Williams and became the youngest player to reach the Round of 16 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1991, turned 18 on March 13 in Indian Wells, moving into adulthood. “No more having my parents having to fill out my documents and stuff,” she laughed. “I really can’t believe that I’m going to be legally an adult, but my parents won’t see me as one.”
17 | MAGICAL MONFILS SENDS A MESSAGE… Gael Monfils may be 35 and edging closer to the end of his career, but Lamonf reminded us all that he still has plenty of life left in him. The Frenchman notched the biggest upset on the men’s side and recorded his first win over a reigning world No. 1 since 2009, taking out top-seeded Daniil Medvedev, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, to reach the Round of 16. Though he fell in the quarterfinals to Carlos Alcaraz, the two-time quarterfinalist proved that he can be a threat against the elite forces in the sport.
18 | EISENHOWER CUP: A BLOOMING TRADITION?… On the Tuesday night before main-draw play started, eight elite WTA stars participated in a series of Tiebreak Tens for a winner-take-all prize purse of $150,000 in Stadium 2. Former champions and fan favorites such as Naomi Osaka, Paula Badosa and Simona Halep enjoyed a night of high-quality tennis and comedic banter (who could forget Ons Jabeur running a mock spin class on courtside bicycles?) that shined the spotlight on the player’s personalities and their on-court talents. American Amanda Anisimova came away with the Eisenhower Cup title, capping the night off by pledging to donate a significant amount of her prize money to a relief fund for citizens of Ukraine.
19 | XU AND YANG TAKE WOMEN’S DOUBLES… At the start of the BNP Paribas fortnight, China’s Yifan Xu and Zhaoxuan Yang weren’t even sure they’d be able to play. Then a late pullout by Barbora Krejcikova opened up a spot in the draw. The rest is history. Xu and Yang won their first title together as a team, defeating Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara for the title. “We’re very happy we won the tournament because we were actually trying to get in in the beginning [but] we weren’t able to because our ranking is pretty low, and we were trying to get in, signing on-site,” Xu said. “We got lucky because Krejcikova pulled out.” The pair played brilliantly throughout the fortnight, and in the final, they dashed the hopes of Muhammad/Shibahara, who were playing their first event together as a team.
20 | DEBUTS AND DEBUTANTES: WEEK ONE MILESTONES… The grounds of the BNP Paribas Open are teeming with life during Week 1 of the tournament. Once the qualifiers are placed in the main draw, hope springs eternal for young players who often are seeking their first iconic Tennis Paradise moments. Kudos to China’s Shang Juncheng, 18, who powered through the qualifiers to become the first Chinese man to ever participate in the men’s singles draw. Denmark’s Holger Rune, also 18, defeated Ugo Humbert for his first career Masters 1000 victory, and another Dane, Clara Tauson, also earned her first BNP Paribas Open victory and pushed eventual champion Iga Swiatek to three sets in the third round.
21 | SIMONA’S AGAIN ON THE CLIMB… Indian Wells has always held a special place in the heart of former champion Simona Halep. When she defeated Jelena Jankovic in the 2015 final, it was the biggest title of her career. Seven years later, she returned to the desert as a two-time major champion and a certain Hall of Famer, but in a state of transition. After a season marred by injuries, and with a new coach by her side, Halep was looking to rebuild her form and the Romanian did just that by making a run to the semifinals. “I think that is the most important thing,” Halep said after her loss to Iga Swiatek in the semis. “It’s a semifinal, so it’s a good thing that I could play so many tough matches.”
22 | AROUND THE GROUNDS… The gorgeous grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden never fail to inspire. Known for its sprawling players’ lawn and easy-access practice courts, replete with ideal vantage points, the tournament has set the standard for the ultimate fan experience. Come for the matches, stay for the practice. Or come for the practice and stay for the matches. Either way, the fans win at Indian Wells.