As the curtains come down on another thrilling Indian Wells fortnight, we open our notebooks to take one more nostalgic spin around the grounds of Tennis Paradise. Join us for a recap of the high points of a memorable two weeks, with a look back at key storylines and a nod forward to the rest of the 2023 tennis season.
We saw it early, we saw it often. The sport has been in good hands for decades, with the Big Three, Serena and Venus and many others leading in the way. In 2023, that fact hasn’t changed, but the names have. Alcaraz, Swiatek, Sinner, Rybakina, Auger-Aliassime, Gauff. We could go on and on, raving about the talent and the charisma that tennis’ generation next possesses, but it wouldn’t do it justice.
Better for you to feast your eyes on their tennis. The dawning of a new era of tennis is upon us and the BNP Paribas Open is excited to help usher it in.
No singles players has defended a BNP Paribas Open title since 2016, when Novak Djokovic rolled past Milos Raonic to complete the first Indian Wells threepeat since Roger Federer in 2006. On the women’s side it has been far longer, with Martina Navratilova mounting the last successful Indian Wells title defense in 1991.
It’s a testament to the depth of the tours in recent years, with talent stacked front to back inside the Top 100, and also an indication of the fact that the BNP Paribas Open is a tournament known for pleasant surprises.
Who could forget stunning first-time title runs by the likes of Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Juan Martin del Potro, Dominic Thiem and of course this year’s winners, Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina.
Remarkably, each of the aforementioned crowning achievements have happened within the last five years. You want surprises? Come to Tennis Paradise!
What can we say about Carlos Alcaraz that hasn’t already been said? Or that throngs of admirers didn’t express when they lined up in droves to take selfies and sign autographs with the teenager every time he made his way from the player’s lawn to the locker rooms during the Indian Wells fortnight?
The feeling is mutual: Carlos loves tennis and tennis loves Carlos. Not only is the 2023 BNP Paribas Open men’s singles champion blessed with otherworldly talents on court, he’s also a charming, engaging personality that appreciates every single token of appreciation that the fans give him.
When it comes to the young guns of men’s tennis, look no further than Carlos Alcaraz. He’s paving the way and setting the bar high for his peers and fellow aspirants.
Your new Indian Wells champion has come a long way in the last 52 weeks, and now that she has claimed her maiden BNP Paribas Open final by defeating the No.1 and No.2-ranked players en route to the title, it’s clear that she’s ready to take her place among the elite forces in women’s tennis.
Blessed with thunderous groundstrokes, a jaw-dropping serve and an icy-cool demeanor, Rybakina seems destined to be a fixture for years to come.
Each year, as tennis fans come to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to root for their favorite players, a connection deepens. Fans don’t just root for anybody; they carefully comb the draws to find ones that they can relate to. It’s a time-honored tradition, and one that makes the sport more memorable for those who prefer to see it through the lens of their faves.
This year, many of those came away smiling, as legends Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Andy Murray all produced another installment of their Indian Wells history, winning matches beyond the age of 35 and proving, once again, that age is just a number.
Add to that list 43-year-old Rohan Bopanna, this year’s men’s doubles title winner, who made history for himself and for Indian tennis, and we have further proof.
Though they finished their 2023 campaigns with bitter losses, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul continued to lead the way for the American men at Indian Wells by putting up stunning performances that took them deep into this year’s draw.
Tiafoe reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal, knocking off 2021 champion Cameron Norrie in the quarterfinals; Fritz performed valiantly in his title defense, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to the red-hot Jannik Sinner. Paul lost a heartbreaker to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Round of 16, but better days are sure to come for the wildly talented 25-year-old, who recently reached the Australian Open semifinal.
In total, ten American men currently populate the ATP’s Top 50, and Frances Tiafoe said it best when he told BNPParibasOpen.com the following:
“It’s good for tennis, when you see Americans do well. I think that’s always been the thing: which American guy is going to be the next one to win a Slam? It’s gonna happen.”
Whether it was the heartbreak and jubilation of the late-night encounter between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Tommy Paul on Stadium 2, the soaring brilliance of Carlos Alcaraz as he celebrated his victories with gusto, or the pure joy of Rohan Bopanna, who became the tournament’s oldest men’s doubles champion on Saturday evening, Indian Wells is always a wild, exuberant ride.
Just ask any fan who witnessed the third-set tiebreak between Petra Kvitova and Jessica Pegula on Tuesday night in Stadium 1, the 24-point tiebreak bringing fans out of their seats, again and again.
Ecstasy, with a pinch of agony – die-hard fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
Watching Fourteen players who are or have been ranked in the Top 10 take the court in a mixed doubles format on the eve of main draw play? It was the perfect way to kick off a colossal BNP Paribas Open fortnight on Stadium two.
Keeping in tune with it’s “fifth Grand Slam” moniker, the BNP Paribas Open brought mixed doubles to the California desert for the first time ever, and the star power was off the charts. Watching top-tier pairings like Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas battle for winner-take-all $200k in prize money in the friendly confines of Stadium 2? How could you go wrong?
Iga Swiatek’s swift rise to the top of women’s tennis has forced the tour’s elite into action. Not satisfied with playing second fiddle to the runaway train from Warsaw, we are starting to see push-back and upheaval within the ranks.
During the first week of the tournament, No.3 seeded American Jessica Pegula set the tone when asked if she felt her recent win over Swiatek at United Cup and “chipped away at Swiatek’s aura of invincibility.”
“She’s definitely not invincible in my mind,” Pegula deadpanned.
Aryna Sabalenka shoots along the same trajectory. The 2023 Australian Open champion’s self-professed goal for the near-term future is to hunt down the WTA’s No.1 ranking.
“It’s going to be really tough and that’s why I really want to achieve it, because it seems like impossible but I want to make it possible,” she said recently.
Add to that mix the powerhouse known as Elena Rybakina. The 2023 BNP Paribas Open women’s singles champion isn’t a big talker but her racquet speaks volumes. She defeated the defending champion in straight sets in the semifinals, ending the Pole’s 10-match Indian Wells winning streak.
The future is bright for Swiatek, but this year in the California desert, we saw that her peers on tour are not going to let her get through them without a valiant fight.
The name connotes tennis bliss and a heightened sense of euphoria.
With stunning vistas and the snowcapped San Jacinto mountains backdropping the grounds, fans are treated to an unrivaled tennis experience at the BNP Paribas. Whether you come to watch top stars practice, kick back in a high-class stadium suite, or visit as many stadiums as you can in a single session, the experience never fails to deliver.
And that is why they come in such great numbers. This year, the first Saturday of the weekend set a single-day record with more than 61,000 fans tracking through the gates, as over 45,000 fans attended the day session, also a single-day record.
In total, well over 425,000 fans came to visit Tennis Paradise in 2023. We hope to see you here next year!