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Five Must-See Friday Matchups At The BNP Paribas Open
3 Min Read · March 8, 2024

It was back to business at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday. With a jam-packed slate of matches after a rain-shortened day on Wednesday, the fans at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden got their money's worth. With nothing but blue skies on tap for Friday, here are five must-see matches on the schedule.


1. Iga Swiatek vs Danielle Collins
Head-to-Head: Swiatek leads 5-1

Fancy seeing you again. Iga Swiatek and Danielle Collins just met in the second round of the Australian Open in January and the irony wasn’t lost on the World No. 1.

“That was funny,” Swiatek said Wednesday when asked about potentially tangling with the power hitter again. “If you want to win this tournament, you have to play well against players that are really good and Danielle is one of them.”

She sure is. Despite limited play over the years — due to repeated health issues and taking mini-breaks in seasons — Collins has reached a Grand Slam final and another semifinal. The 30-year-old Collins has announced that she intends to retire at the end of the season, six years after her breakthrough as a wild card in Indian Wells (fourth round). If Swiatek prevails, another rematch looms against Linda Noskova in the third round. After defeating Collins in Melbourne, Swiatek succumbed to the Czech teen in the third round.

The World No. 1 Swiatek warms up on the Player Lawn. She will face Danielle Collins on Friday.

2. Jannik Sinner vs Thanasi Kokkinakis
Head-to-Head: Sinner leads 3-0

Can anyone stop Jannik Sinner right now? The Italian has kept on going since winning his first Grand Slam title in Australia, backing it up with the title in Rotterdam to extend his winning streak to 15 matches. The big-serving Thanasi Kokkinakis will try to end the streak Friday, although the charismatic Australian admitted to getting “spanked” in their last duel on clay in Rome last year.

“He’s got a great forehand, great backhand and improved his serve a lot,” Kokkinakis said in the wake of downing the in-form Marcos Giron in the BNP Paribas Open first round. “And he moves incredibly well. For me, I gotta try to take the racquet out of his hands and play aggressive. It’s gotta be on me because if I wait, then I’m going to get picked apart.”

No one is a tougher out on the ATP Tour right now than the red hot Sinner.

No is one a tougher out on the ATP Tour right now than Jannik Sinner, fresh off his maiden Grand Slam title.

3. Ben Shelton vs Jakub Mensik
Head-to-Head: First Meeting

18-year-old Jakub Mensik is the youngest of four male teens inside the benchmark Top 100. Twelve months ago, his ranking clocked in at No. 392. But Ben Shelton, still only 21, knows about meteoric rises, too. The lefty born in Atlanta has risen from No. 573 to his current No. 16 rank in slightly more than two years.

The duo each own potent serves. Shelton averages about 10 aces per match this term — he also likes to keep his eye on the serve-speed clock — and Mensik averages 11. A tiebreak or two seems likely in this Friday clash. In another similarity, they both possess impressive tiebreak records this year. Mensik is 9-3 and Shelton is 7-3.

Ben Shelton returns to Indian Wells for his second career appearance at the BNP Paribas Open.

4. Angelique Kerber vs Jelena Ostapenko
Head-to-Head: Kerber leads 2-1

 In both singles and doubles, few players have started better than Jelena Ostapenko this season. The Latvian sits fifth in the calendar-year standings in singles and leads in doubles alongside Lyudmyla Kichenok. She blasted her way to the French Open title in 2017 — but the opponent in Angelique Kerber she will face on Friday is also a Grand Slam champion.

Indeed, Kerber has landed three majors and made the Indian Wells final in 2019. The last time these two faced off, Kerber edged a tight three-setter in Cincinnati in 2021. That was before she became a mom and returned this year. Kerber began her Indian Wells sojourn this week with a 6-3, 6-4 win over a two-time quarterfinalist here, Petra Martic.

Angelique Kerber looked strong in her first round win, but a tougher test awaits with Jelena Ostapenko in Round 2.

5. Andy Murray vs Andrey Rublev
Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1

Rain and heavy winds hit Indian Wells on Wednesday, just after Andy Murray handled qualifier David Goffin on Stadium 1. The rough weather mirrored Murray’s season heading into Tennis Paradise. But after the much needed victory, Murray gets a tough test in the World No. 5 Andrey Rublev.

The three-time Grand Slam winner Murray has lost eight of his last nine matches against the Top 10, with the lone victory coming against Stefanos Tsitsipas on grass in 2022. Rublev — an Indian Wells semifinalist in 2022 — plays his first match since being defaulted in Dubai.

Andy Murray hinted at his retirement earlier this season, but remains resilient as he marches into the second round at Indian Wells.
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