Wildcards announced for the 2013 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA

Former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian leads the list of players granted wildcards into this year's BNP Paribas Open.

Former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian leads the list of players granted wildcards into this year’s BNP Paribas Open.

Four former top-five ranked players along with rising American stars highlight the list of players granted wildcards into next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA. David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, Jakes Blake and Kimiko Date-Krumm have all at one point in their careers been ranked inside the top 5 in the world rankings. Up and coming Americans Tim Smyczek, Steve Johnson, Madison Keys, Maria Sanchez, Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend will all have their chance to take down some of the world’s best as well with guaranteed admittance into the main draw. Rounding out the wildcards on the women’s side are Shahar Peer, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Kristina Mladenovic.

“This year’s main draw wildcards span from seasoned veterans, to rising American and international stars to those returning from injury,” said tournament direction Steve Simon in a recent press release. “Awarding wildcards to players like David Nalbandian, James Blake, Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend add to the allure of early-round matches for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to break through and make a move up their respective Tour’s rankings.”

Germany's Andrea Petkovic received a wildcard into the qualifying draw of the BNP Paribas Open.

Germany’s Andrea Petkovic received a wildcard into the qualifying draw of the BNP Paribas Open.

Some notables among the players awarded wildcards into the qualifying draw are former top-ten player Andrea Petkovic, UCLA standout Dennis Novikov and up and coming Americans Christian Harrison, Jack Sock, Rhyne Williams and Grace Min.

Players begin battling in the qualifying draw Monday, March 4 for a berth in the main draw that begins on Thursday the 7th. The BNP Paribas Open is the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world, offering more than $12 million in prize money.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

AG

Man on fire – Jerzy Janowicz

World #5 David Ferrer captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title this past weekend in Paris.

In his fourth try, David Ferrer finally took home his first ATP Masters 1000 title this past weekend in Paris.

He becomes the first player outside of the Top 4 to win a Masters 1000 title since the end of 2010. Furthermore, he did it on a fast, indoor court, and not the red clay where Ferrer has traditionally thrived. This Spanish warrior just keeps getting better and better, having arguably the best year of his career at the ripe old age of 30. If David wins 4 matches this week at the year end championships in London, he would overtake Rafael Nadal and become the top ranked Spaniard.

David Ferrer took down the red hot Pole Jerzy Janowicz in the finals in Paris.

However, overshadowing Ferrer’s impressive title run was the man he played in the finals, 21-year-old Jerzy Janowicz. His incredible run to the final had him win 7 matches, 2 in the qualifying and 5 in the main draw, and every win in the main draw was over a player ranked inside the Top 20 (Kohlschreiber, Cilic, Murray, Tipsarevic, Simon). His magical week in Paris vaulted him 39 spots to a career high ranking of #26.

The 6’8″ youngster from Poland was slaying giants with monstrous serves, big flat forehands and remarkably effective drop shots. The big fella’ has some major weapons in his arsenal and masterly creativity about how to use them. But most impressive was his fighting spirit, which has come from a tough road to the top of the game.

Jerzy started this year ranked outside of the Top 200, at #221 in the world. “This year I didn’t go to the Australian Open because I just didn’t have money to play [the] tournament,” Jerzy told members of the ATP Staff in an interview following one of his matches, demonstrating the reality of many touring pros outside of the top 100. It was evident that he’s been fighting for his life on the tour all year long, scrapping to win matches just so he could get to the next tournament. The pressure you feel when you know you have to win just to make enough money to travel and play the next week is terrifying, which explains his fearless play in the later rounds of the Paris Masters. His astonishing jump almost 200 spots in the world rankings must be attributed to his strong mental toughness and determination.

It’s great to see one of these success stories come to the forefront of the game, and I’m sure I can speak for everyone when we say that we hope to see more great things out of the young Pole in the months and years to come.

-AG

Who’s hot and who’s not on the ATP Tour

It’s been an exciting first half of the 2012 season on the ATP Tour! We’ve seen Roger regain the #1 spot in the world rankings and three different players win majors, which hasn’t happened to start the year since 2005. Anything can happen leading into the Olympics in a couple weeks and with the American hard court season looming. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not on the ATP Tour leading into summer…

Who's hotter then the #1 ranked player in the world, Roger Federer?!

Who’s Hot??

Roger Federer – Record 287 weeks at #1. He’s just won his record 17th major and record-tying 7th Wimbledon title. He’s compiled a 46-6 record so far in 2012 with 5 titles, with two Masters 1000′s (Indian Wells and Madrid) and a major. Don’t look now, but Roger has returned to the throne at the top of the men’s game, and he’s turning 31 next month. G.O.A.T.? Without a doubt!

Marin Cilic – He’s won 2 titles in 2012 and they have both come in the last month, winning Queen’s Club (Nalbandian’s epic meltdown) and this past week’s clay court event in Umag in his home country of Croatia. After missing the first couple months of the year due to injury, Marin has compiled a 22-10 record (and four of those losses are to Del Potro). His only top 10 win of the year was against Isner in Madrid, but I think the big serving Croatian is gaining confidence and finding his form coming into summer.

Hard-working Croatian Marin Cilic could be finding his form leading into summer

Brian Baker – Is there a better story in tennis right now than this guy? After five surgeries and leaving the game to coach college tennis at hometown Belmont University in Nashville, TN, the smooth-moving American has come back with a bang and exploded into the world’s top 100 rankings. And if you think his recent results are a fluke then you’re heavily mistaken…he was formally number 2 in the world in juniors, and he’s won 32 of his last 38 matches dating back to April. Watch Brian continue his hot play on the American hard courts and reach the top 50 by the end of the year.

 

Who’s Not??

John Isner – After beating Djokovic and reaching the finals in Indian Wells in March, the big serving Georgia Bulldog hasn’t done much in tournament play since the tour moved over to Europe for the clay court season. I know he won Newport this past weekend, but his best win of the week was against fellow American #48 ranked Ryan Harrison, which just so happens to be his highest-ranked win in the last two months. He lost 5 of his 8 matches on the red dirt, which normally is a surface he’s strong on. Hopefully the big man can pick up some momentum in front of the home crowds in the States this summer, because the confidence seems to be lacking a bit in recent weeks.

Big John Isner will hopefully ride the momentum of winning Newport into the American hard court season

Feliciano Lopez – He’s lost 6 of his last 7 matches, including a first round loss at Wimbledon followed by a first round loss at a Challenger event in Colombia against the 213th-ranked player in the world. Not sure what’s going on right now with the big lefty from Madrid, but he’s seen his ranking drop from a career high #15 in April to his current #30 position. We’ll see if he can get out of a tough section of the draw in Gstaad, Switzerland this week and gain some momentum for the coming weeks.

Gael Monfils – He’s been struggling with a knee injury since the beginning of the year, and we haven’t seen him since his loss to Brian Baker in Nice just before the French Open. Given his history of injuries, who knows when we will see the exciting Frenchmen again. He’s got some ranking points to defend from last year’s summer hard court season, so if he doesn’t come back soon he’ll be out of the top 20 for the first time since 2008.

Speedy Frenchmen Gael Monfils has been struggling with knee problems since the beginning of 2012

 

 

Stay tuned for more pro tennis talk as the summer action heat’s up!  Thanks for reading!

Andy G.