Friday, March 11, 2022 - Coco Gauff plays against Claire Liu in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
Sunday marks another stacked schedule at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, as Andy Murray looks to follow up his 700th career win with a trip to the third round on Stadium 2, while three of the fastest rising stars on the WTA Tour take to Stadium 1. There’s also a blockbuster doubles tilt between Americans Jack Sock and John Isner and the Australian Open winning tandem of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Here’s what we’ll be watching around the grounds this Sunday.
When Coco Gauff was still 15 years of age, Simona Halep ended her dream run at Wimbledon by handing the American a 6-3, 6-3 defeat. The Romanian would go on to claim the Wimbledon title that season, by dominating the great Serena Williams in a lopsided final.
The pair will meet again on Sunday evening, and it will be a much more mature Gauff that Halep faces. Gauff, who turns 18 on Sunday, will hope to celebrate her birthday in style with a signature win, and many believe that her time to shine is coming on Tour.
“I feel like for me Coco is one of the players who I feel like at any moment is going to do some really big things,” Victoria Azarenka said on Saturday. “I think she’s one of the most talented players from her generation, at least in my perspective. I think she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders which is pretty remarkable at this age.
“Practicing with her, I can just see the talent that she has and the potential that she has. It’s a matter of putting it together. I think for her to mature and get confident with herself.”
Halep is a former champion at Indian Wells, but time may be on Gauff’s side on Sunday.
Nick Kyrgios has been smiling ear-to-ear ever since he stepped foot on the grounds at Indian Wells this year. The mercurial Aussie is thrilled to be 100 percent fit, and it shows in his tennis – and his smile. Kyrgios, who reached the third round on Saturday night with a 6-2, 6-2 thrashing of Federico Delbonis, hopes to extend his doubles winning streak to nine matches when he and Nick Kyrgios take on the American dynamic duo of Jack Sock and John Isner.
Isner and Sock took out the top-seeded tandem of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic in the opening round, so whichever team triumphs on Sunday could be headed for a deep run in Tennis Paradise.
Two days after edging Taro Daniel for his 700th career victory, Andy Murray faces another stern test when he meets Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik on Stadium 2. Hard-serving Bublik has already notched his maiden ATP title in 2022, and Murray will have to be sharp if he is to reach the third round for the second consecutive year.
Murray owns a 2-0 lifetime edge against the world No.33, including a straight-sets win in Rotterdam that came last month.
British sensation Emma Raducanu is back in action on Sunday, bidding for a spot in the sweet 16. The 19-year-old faces Petra Martic of Croatia, and even though she’s hungry for a victory, she is also working extremely hard to keep a lid on her own expectations. Raducanu admits that she’s still trying to gain a sense of balance after becoming the first qualifier to win the US Open title in tennis history last year.
She has been forced to develop her blossoming game under intense scrutiny. The press now expects her to back up her Grand Slam title with bold statements, but Raducanu knows that the journey is long, and bumps in the road aren’t a sign of failure but an opportunity to grow.
“[I am] still trying to figure it out, everything is very new and it’s going to take a while to really settle into it,” she said in her pre-tournament press conference. “I kind of accept that it’s not going to be the smoothest ride, it’s going to be bumpy. What can I do about it? I feel like I’ve been kind of put in a scenario that’s not really been done before and I’m just figuring it out as I go along.”