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Osaka's Return And Four Other Players To Watch For Round 1, Day 2
4 Min Read · March 7, 2024

First round action at the 2024 BNP Paribas Open continues on Thursday, with many familiar faces ready to punch a ticket to Round 2. Keep reading for some of the biggest names and storylines to follow on Thursday.

For Osaka, There's No Place Like Home

Naomi Osaka feels like she’s playing at home at the BNP Paribas Open, the site of her maiden WTA title in 2018 as an unseeded 20-year-old.


And speaking of firsts, the resident of nearby Los Angeles is contesting a tournament with daughter Shai — born in July — in tow for the first time. Call it a dual role for the four-time Grand Slam winner with the thunderous baseline game.  

“I’m always an athlete, but when she’s here, I’m an athlete and a mom at the same time,” Osaka said Wednesday. “So there’s a constant surge of energy that I have to have, and I hope it ends up doing well for me here.”

On court, Osaka was buoyed by her performance last month at the Doha 1000 event. After exiting to Danielle Collins in the first round at Abu Dhabi, Osaka made the quarterfinals in Qatar before losing to a resurgent Karolina Pliskova in two tiebreaks.

The same Pliskova handed Osaka the first loss of her comeback in early January. Caroline Garcia then ousted Osaka in their Australian Open opener.

“I had dreams while I was pregnant of what I want to achieve. Obviously, losing in the first round of the Australian Open wasn’t in my dreams,” Osaka said. “But I think I have to be really realistic and kind to myself. I don’t want to be a downer in this part of my career."

Osaka’s opponent Thursday is 2012 Roland-Garros finalist, Sara Errani. Errani, now 36, went through qualifying this week. She lost to Osaka 6-1, 6-3 at 2016 Miami in their lone previous duel.

Here are four other things to watch on day two, when sunny skies are expected to return after rare rain on Wednesday.

2017 BNP Paribas Open finalist Stan Wawrinka looks to make a push in the desert.

Will ‘Stan the Man’ Keep Winning In The Desert?

Just how well has Stan Wawrinka — who meets Tomas Machac on Thursday — played at Indian Wells?

The Swiss with the lauded one-handed backhand owns a stellar 27-12 record in the desert since making his debut here in 2006.

Novak Djokovic has handed the now 38-year-old two of his losses at Indian Wells, while pal and fellow Swiss Roger Federer beat him four times — including in the finale seven years ago. And it took Jannik Sinner to stop him last season in the fourth round after Wawrinka downed Holger Rune in a Round 3 thriller.  

The three-time Grand Slam winner, though, is coming off a tough Golden Swing on clay in South America. He was in tears after a three-set loss to Nicolas Jarry in Buenos Aires, and fell in his opener the following week at Rio to Buenos Aires champion Facundo Diaz Acosta in straight sets.

When it comes to tomorrow, the all-action Machac of the Czech Republic leads Wawrinka 1-0 in their head-to-heads, so it should be somewhat of a novel match-up. 

A California Teen On The Rise

Twelve months ago, Alex Michelsen played qualifying in Indian Wells as a wild card ranked No. 306. Now, the native of Aliso Viejo, California sits at No. 80. The 19-year-old has already played in an ATP final, too — last year on grass in Newport.

Michelsen — whose parents both played college tennis —  will meet a mentee of Rafael Nadal, Spanish player Jaume Munar. He hopes to avoid the heartbreak of his last tussle, a three-set quarterfinal loss to Jordan Thompson in Los Cabos where he led by a set and 4-1 and held three match points.

Two-time BNP Paribas Open finalist Gael Monfils will play for the fifteenth time at Indian Wells.

The Veteran French Showman

Michelsen’s idol is none other than Gael Monfils. Even if Michelsen might not get the opportunity to watch him Thursday — with his match and all the pre and post-game routines — fans onsite certainly will.

Like Wawrinka, the often acrobatic 37-year-old is closer to the end of his career than the start. But the twice Indian Wells quarterfinalist reached the semifinals in Doha last month, and claimed the title in Stockholm in October.

His Australian foe, Max Purcell, is a throwback. He likes to serve and volley and last year made his singles breakthrough, soaring about 180 spots in the year-end rankings. The 25-year-old also beat Monfils in 2021.

2021 US Open Champion Emma Radacanu had her best performance since her Slam title at last year's BNP Paribas Open, reaching the fourth round.

The History Making Grand Slam Winner

No one had ever won a Grand Slam as a qualifier before Emma Raducanu at the US Open in 2021. The 21-year-old has dealt with a plethora of injuries since her historic fortnight, but Indian Wells last year provided respite.

Raducanu recorded three wins, only the second time that has happened at the same tournament since the Briton’s Grand Slam crown.

The wild card meets big-serving Rebeka Masarova on Thursday. The Swiss-born Spaniard is a former junior No. 2 who survived a serious car accident in 2016.

To view the order of play for tomorrow’s jam-packed day, click below:

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