BNP Paribas Open
BNP Paribas Open Logo
ATP Tour
WTA Tennis
California Gold: The Indian Wells ATP Champion Trend Since 2018
3 Min Read · February 29, 2024

Relive the past five editions of the ATP Draw at the BNP Paribas Open

Trivia question: Can you name the past five champions of the BNP Paribas Open? If you need a hint, they all were first-time Indian Wells titlists.

From 2004-2017, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the ATP Masters 1000 event, winning 13 of 14 titles. But after years of the 'Big Three' sharing the trophy among themselves, Indian Wells has witnessed five first-time winners since 2018: Juan Martin del Potro, Dominic Thiem, Cameron NorrieTaylor Fritz and Carlos Alcaraz.

Will the trend continue during this year’s edition of the BNP Paribas Open?


2018 Champion: Juan Martin del Potro
In 2018, Federer entered the desert as the man to beat. The Swiss was riding a 17-match winning streak, having reclaimed World No. 1 after winning the Australian Open and Rotterdam. Yet the heavy-hitting, 6’6” Del Potro dethroned the defending champion in an instant classic final, saving three championship points to overcome Federer 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2).

The victory marked Del Potro’s lone ATP Masters 1000 title, which doubled as his final trophy of his 17-year career.

“I cannot believe I won this tournament, beating Roger in a great final and we played a great level of tennis. It was an unbelievable match in all ways,” said Del Potro, who hit a career-high No. 3 later that year. “The people were excited on every single point. Roger and I were nervous during the whole match, and we felt that on court.”

2019 Champion: Dominic Thiem
The warm California sunshine brought alive a cold Thiem in 2019, when he entered March having won just three matches across four events to start the year. The Austrian found his best level in Indian Wells, earning a chance to break his 2-2 Lexus ATPHead2Head tie with Federer.

Despite Thiem falling short in his previous two Masters 1000 finals, the third time was the charm for the seventh seed, who toppled five-time champion Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the final.

“I came from a really bad form in all categories and now I'm the champion of Indian Wells. It feels not real at all,” Thiem said. “Just amazing that I got here, my first really big title.”

Dominic Thiem celebrates winning the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

2021 Champion: Cameron Norrie
The BNP Paribas Open was not held in 2020 because of Covid-19 concerns and the following year the tournament was moved to October. Then-World No. 26 Norrie delivered a stunning performance to become the first man outside the Top 25 of the PIF ATP Rankings to win in Indian Wells since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010, when the Croatian knocked out Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Roddick on his way to the title.

For one week, a missed ball was a rare sight for the brick-wall consistent Norrie. The Briton utilised his flat backhand to absorb his opponents' firepower, including that of 29th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who Norrie moved past 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the title match.

“If you’d have told me I’d have won before the tournament started, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s amazing,” Norrie said.

Cameron Norrie holds the trophy following his triumph at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open.

2022 Champion: Taylor Fritz
The fairytale storylines continued in 2022, but this time for California’s own Fritz. And even the best fairytales come with a dose of drama. Amidst warming up for the biggest match of his life — a championship clash against Nadal — Fritz suffered a freak ankle injury. Struggling to put any weight on his right foot, Fritz described it as ‘one of the worst pains I have ever felt’.

Despite his coaching team advising the American to not play the high-stakes match and rather ensure no further ankle damage, Fritz sought treatment and laced up his shoes to compete in front of 16,000 eager fans.

The-then World No. 20 defeated three-time titlist Nadal 6-3, 7-6(5) in a tumultuous final, which was highlighted in Netflix’s Break Point Season 1, Episode 3.

Taylor Fritz wins Indian Wells in 2022. Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

A double prize was on the line for Alcaraz in 2023, when he ran through the field to capture his maiden BNP Paribas Open title and return to World No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings. The Spaniard did not lose a set across six matches, with perhaps his most one-sided victory of the tournament coming in the final; a 6-3, 6-2 stunner against Daniil Medvedev, who entered the title match on a 19-match and three-tournament winning streak. 

“I would say this has been the perfect tournament,” Alcaraz said. “It feels amazing to lift the trophy here, to recover the No. 1 [ranking].”

Having triumphed in Miami the year before, Alcaraz became the youngest man to win both legs of the ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and south Florida.

With the recent theme of first-time champions dating back to 2018, a list of players could continue the trend this year. Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner and last year’s finalist Medvedev are among those in the field who are searching for their maiden BNP Paribas Open crown.

Carlos Alcaraz raises the trophy after claiming his maiden BNP Paribas Open title.

This story is courtesy of and was originally published on

More news