Indian Wells, California

March 8 - 21, 2021

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Five to Follow at BNPPO18

by Taylor Crosby

With the 2018 BNP Paribas Open days away from getting started, we want our fans to have the inside track on who the in-form players are to follow at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Here, five to follow at #BNPPO18:

The History Maker: Hyeon Chung

In an era in which 30-somethings are setting the pace in the men’s game, 21-year-old Hyeon Chung managed to grab plenty of headlines during the Australian Open with a run to the semifinals.

The South Korean shocked the tennis world when he charged past world No. 4 Alexander Zverev and then six-time champion Novak Djokovic en route to the semifinals at a Major for the first time, becoming the first South Korean player to make it that far in Grand Slam singles play.

Chung announced himself in 2017 by claiming the title at the inaugural ATP NextGen Finals, an event in November that showcased the 21-and-under rising stars in the men’s game. Evidenced by his brilliant fortnight in Melbourne, he’s kept that fire into the 2018 season.

With the year off to a fiery start for the youngster, one has to wonder: What damage he could do to the BNP Paribas Open draw?

Daring to Dominate: Grigor Dimitrov

After a career-best 2017, Grigor Dimitrov is aiming even higher this 2018 season.

“I always want to do more,” Dimitrov said earlier this year. “I always expect more from myself.”

Last summer, the Bulgarian won his first-ever ATP Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. Then, to close the season, Dimitrov claimed his biggest title yet, winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London. These were two of a career-best four titles he won in 2017, which helped him rise to  No. 3 in the year-end rankings, a career high.

With the success of last year behind him, Dimitrov knows there are more goals to chase. He now sets his sights on the BNP Paribas Open, a tournament where he has never advanced past the third round. Will his newfound confidence and form finally see him go deep?

The Comeback Kid: Petra Kvitova

In December 2016, Petra Kvitova was attacked in a home invasion and suffered deep wounds to her left hand, the same one she has used to hold her racket while winning – among other triumphs – a pair of Wimbledon titles.

Always a fighter on the court, she applied that tenacity to her recovery and was back on court in time for May’s French Open.

The two-time BNP Paribas Open quarterfinalist will return to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the first time in two years, and she’ll be doing it on quite the hot streak. Kvitova won back-to-back titles in February, capturing titles in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Doha. She has also soared back into the Top 10 for the first time since the summer of 2016.

What does the desert have in store for the Czech this year? Only one way to find out.

Ukraine’s Shooting Star: Elina Svitolina

Since the start of the 2017 season, Elina Svitolina has won a WTA-best seven titles. Yes, seven. The quick-moving, fast-hitting Ukrainian poses a dangerous threat in any draw.

Just two months into the 2018 season, and the world No. 4 has already lifted two trophies and boasts a 14-2 record (as of Feb. 26). Svitolina solidified her stardom in 2017, winning a tour-high five titles, the biggest coming at the Premier 5 event in Toronto, where she knocked out four Top 10 foes.

The 23-year-old has twice reached the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open. Is this the year she makes her desert breakthrough and claims her maiden Premier Mandatory title?

The Americans: Take Your Pick

With a combined seven Americans in the Top 20 of the two Tour’s rankings, it is hard to pick just one to watch out for at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.

On the men’s side, can Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, or John Isner be the first American champion since 2001?

Sock impressed fans here last year as he advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal, falling to eventual champion Roger Federer. Months later, the Nebraska native claimed his maiden Masters 1000 title in Paris, a win that also sent him to the ATP Finals in London.

Querrey, who sits at a career high of world No. 11, has won eight of his 10 ATP titles on hard court. Although he has never made it past the round of 16 in Indian Wells, the California native always poses a threat to the top seeds as evidenced by runs to the Wimbledon semifinals and US Open quarterfinals in 2017.

Isner has seen his fair share of success at the BNP Paribas Open, having reached the final in 2012 and semifinals in 2014. Ten of his 12 career titles have come in the U.S. Is this the year the big serving American adds a trophy from the desert to his collection?

On the women’s side, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe lead the way. Could the last 12 months of success lead any of these women to a BNP Paribas Open title?

Williams will look to improve on last season’s quarterfinal run, where she lost to eventual champion Elena Vesnina. After a 2017 that included two Grand Slam finals, the two-time semifinalist here will look to go a couple wins further this year.

Last year at the BNP Paribas Open, Stephens was wearing a boot on her surgically repaired right foot and wielding a Tennis Channel microphone instead of a tennis racket. Less than six months later, the 24-year-old was lifting the trophy as US Open champion. She comes back this year looking to improve on her best result here, a quarterfinal in 2014.

Keys also made an injury comeback in 2017, returning to action after wrist surgery at last year’s BNP Paribas Open and reaching the round of 16. As the year progressed she claimed her third career singles title, and also reached her first Major final at the US Open.

Slam success also came for Vandeweghe in 2017 as she reached the semifinals at both the Australian Open and US Open. In addition, the California native notched two wins over reigning world No. 1s. She has twice reached the third round in Indian Wells.


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