Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - A view of the grounds during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Back in 2017, the surprising duo of Belgian veteran Kirsten Flipkens and doubles-shy Canadian Genie Bouchard, took to three tournaments together, even going so far as reaching a final in their last tournament of that season. Fast forward a year and a half later and they’re singles opponents under the nighttime floodlights on Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open.
The two have yet to face off in singles, but here’s the twist: not only do they play each other tonight in their tournament opener, but they’ve already played one another this week! Flipkens and partner Johanna Larsson defeated Bouchard and Sloane Stephens in doubles in the desert last night.
After a surprising bout of rain two nights ago during the Eisenhower Cup presented by Masimo, it’s clear skies and dry heat in the forecast for the tennis today. This evening, the conditions cool off to the perfect tennis-watching (and tennis-playing!) temperatures.
Furthermore, the dry air in the Indian Wells desert means aggressive players won’t have a layer of humidity to hit through and the medium-slow courts will facilitate the preferred longer points of counterpunchers. Tennis Paradise is more than just weather – it’s pristine conditions of play for the competitors!
It’s hard to miss Reilly Opelka in a crowd.
At a towering 6 feet, 11 inches, the 21-year-old American is a head above the rest of his generation, and proved it by claiming his first ATP Tour title at the New York Open last month. Much like fellow-Goliath and compatriot John Isner, aces fly off the world No. 59’s racquet, making for short points but dramatic conclusions to sets, which often finish in tiebreaks.
The dry conditions should help his serve against a more traditional slow-court player in first-round opponent Leonardo Mayer, but what sets Opelka apart from other serving specialists is his preference for his backhand over his forehand, adding an interesting element for Mayer to unpack as he plays the role of David second up in Stadium 1 tonight.