BNP Paribas Open
BNP Paribas Open Logo
ATP Tour
WTA Tennis
Nadal vs Raonic Blockbuster, And Four Other Must See First-Rounders
4 Min Read · March 5, 2024

As the setting sun threw shadows over the east side of Stadium 1 on Monday afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, news from the big video board kicked the 2024 BNP Paribas Open draw ceremony into high gear. Three-time champion Rafael Nadal has been drawn to face former finalist Milos Raonic in the first round – get your popcorn ready for that matchup, as well as four other must-see first-round tilts in Tennis Paradise. 

1. Rafael Nadal vs Milos Raonic
Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 8-2

22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, fresh off a thrilling encounter with compatriot Carlos Alcaraz at the Netflix Slam in Las Vegas on Sunday, will face the 33-year-old Canadian for the 11th time, and the second time at Indian Wells. 

It was Raonic who came out on top in 2015, when the pair contested their lone meeting in the California desert. 

Thursday’s tilt will commence Nadal’s 16th Indian Wells appearance – the Mallorcan has compiled a 59-11 record with three titles and two additional finals in the Coachella Valley. 

After an 11-month hiatus due to a hip flexor injury, 37-year-old Nadal made his comeback to the tour in early January, won two matches at Brisbane, then suffered a micro tear to a muscle near his left hip during a quarterfinal loss to Jordan Thompson in his last contested ATP match. 

Three-time BNP Paribas Open champion Nadal, currently ranked No.652, has talked of potentially ending his legendary career this season, and this could be his last appearance at Indian Wells. 

Former World No.3 Raonic will be making his ninth appearance in Southern California. The dangerous Canadian, nicknamed “The Missile” due to his ballistic serve, reached the final in 2016, as well as two other semifinals, and has compiled a 23-8 lifetime record since his Indian Wells debut in 2011.

Like Nadal, the Canadian has struggled with injuries. Raonic missed nearly two full seasons (from July of 2021 to June of 2023) due to an Achilles injury and a broken toe. The World No.224 still demonstrates an ability to dominate matches with his serve and first-strike tennis that belies his ranking. If healthy, he promises to make this encounter a dramatic fight to the finish. 

2. Mirra Andreeva vs Katie Volynets 
Head-to-Head: First Meeting

Everyone is anxious to see if 16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva can parlay her success on the Grand Slam stage to the gritty hard courts at Indian Wells. The talented World No.38 has stormed up the rankings in the last 52 weeks, rising from outside of the Top 300 thanks to ten wins in her first four appearances at the majors. 

She’ll face 22-year-old wild card Katie Volynets in the first round. 

Northern California native Volynets makes her third Indian Wells main draw appearance – she reached the third round in 2022.

3. Stan Wawrinka vs Tomas Machac 
Head-to-Head: Machac Leads 1-0

At 38, it isn’t clear how many more times Stan Wawrinka will be back to the BNP Paribas Open, which means that fans of the man they call “The Stanimal” might want to enjoy the legendary Swiss while they can. 

The three-time major champion, and 2017 BNP Paribas Open runner-up, will be put to the test early against Czech Tomas Machac, a 23-year-old physical force who has already notched wins over Frances Tiafoe, Lorenzo Musetti and Andy Murray in 2024.

4. Karolina Pliskova vs Anna Blinkova 
Head-to-Head: Pliskova Leads 2-0

Just two months ago in Melbourne, Anna Blinkova pulled one of the greatest Grand Slam capers of all-time, saving six match points to defeat Elena Rybakina in a second-round match that featured the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history. 

The 25-year-old World No.45 will have to be on her toes to keep the good times rolling against former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova. The Czech has been resurgent in 2024, reeling off nine consecutive wins in Cluj-Napoca, where she claimed her first title since 2020, and Doha, where she reached the semifinals. 

5. Chris Eubanks vs Brandon Nakashima 
Head-to-Head: Eubanks Leads 1-0

If it is an all-American derby that you seek, look no further than the first-round tussle between Chris Eubanks and Brandon Nakashima. The pair shared the court last year at Atlanta, with former Georgia Tech standout Eubanks coming through in three tight sets on his home turf. 

On paper, World No.34 Eubanks holds the edge, but don’t sleep on Nakashima. The San Diego native has taken two of three meetings contested with Eubanks at the challenger level. 

More news