The BNP Paribas Open has announced its list of wildcards -- and the names present were not surprising with local Americans mainly benefitting from the chance to participate in the prestigious tournament which lasts a fortnight. Despite the wave of withdrawals due to injury issues on the men’s side, this is slated to be another successful tournament with the overwhelming and wonderful facilities coupled with the packed draw featuring countless highly-anticipated match-ups.
Oracle Challenger Series winners look to continue their good run
The newly-implemented Oracle Challenger Series which features two events (ATP Challenger Tour and WTA 125k) for both the men and women are held in Newport Beach and the Indian Wells tournament site a week before the actual tournament. It has a new rule which ensures that the top two American players who earn the most points over these events will receive wildcards into the main draw of Indian Wells.
Bradley Klahn, who reached the final in Newport Beach where he narrowly fell to Taylor Fritz in a tightly-contested contest, will make his second appearance at the BNP Paribas Open alongside Reilly Opelka, who made the last four in the same tournament.
Newport Beach champion Danielle Collins, who actually received a wildcard in that event itself, finds herself on a great run which includes an impressive victory over the world number 56 Magda Linette. She is currently at a career-high ranking of 117, having won seven of her last nine matches. Another young American rising star Amanda Anisimova reached the semifinals as a qualifier in Indian Wells, and this result alone was able to seal her a wildcard.
Big stars headline list of wildcards
World number 116 Eugenie Bouchard, a former top-five player, will continue her path back to success after being granted a chance to participate in the main draw. The Canadian has a 3-3 win-loss record in 2018, and she looks to improve on that ratio in this tournament where a win could boost her ranking drastically.
After what seemed like an eternity, former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka will make her comeback to professional tennis after a series of family issues. Having played in the grass-court season last year, Azarenka withdrew from her remaining tournaments but was slated to take part in the ASB Classic and the Australian Open this year. However, another disappointing news followed as she was forced to withdraw but the Belarusian’s fans finally had something to celebrate as Azarenka confirmed her comeback in Indian Wells.
Causing some huge waves in January, Alex de Minaur will be back competing on the tour after a highly successful Australian swing which saw him reach the semifinals at the Brisbane International alongside his maiden tour final at the Sydney International. This gave him a career-high ranking of 127 and he will look to regain his form once more in Indian Wells.
Surprise Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren has gone on a cold streak since his impressive run, which included wins over top-10 players Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem, owning a disappointing 1-3 win-loss record in his following events. Furthermore, he was also thrashed 1-6, 2-6 by world number 190 Facundo Bagnis in the first round of qualifying at the Argentina Open. Nonetheless, a wildcard into the tournament will aim to help the American regain his best form and confidence.
Young stars lead the pack
21-year-old Ernesto Escobedo will have a chance to exhibit his talents in front of his Californian crowd, and he is slated to make his main draw debut due to his excellent performance at the Delray Beach Open weeks ago, having earned his first career top-10 win over Jack Sock in straight sets.
The hard-hitting Caroline Dolehide, who took a set off Madison Keys in Stanford last year, looks to cause some trouble in the draw alongside Kayla Day, who rocked the tennis world after beating Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and sent Garbine Muguruza to the distance last year in Indian Wells. Both Claire Liu and Russian youngster Sofya Zhuk will also make their debuts in the Premier Mandatory event.