Early in the week at the Open, the practice courts are a busy place. Almost everyone shares courts and there are only 45 minute slots. So, as you can imagine, it’s a hectic place. I got a good practice in with Steve Johnson even though we were pressed for time.
Afterwards, I headed to the player cafe for a little lunch. During tournament weeks, my diet is pretty strict. I make sure to have really balanced meals with plenty of lean protein, good carbs, and about as many veggies as I can fit in. They put in a new coffee bar in the lounge this year as well, so I topped it all off with a little iced coffee!
For my afternoon practice, my coach, Billy Heiser, and I went to a secret spot which I can’t reveal right now…we got in some feeding drills and worked on some specifics. I always like to have a couple practices a week like this. Billy has a great eye for the fine tuning what I need and I always feel better after we can get some of that work done.
After practice I got some treatment and a massage and headed back to the hotel. Just takeout for dinner after an exhausting day!
A standout college athlete from USC, Steve Johnson is starting to make his impact on the professional circuit. Johnson started off his career in Southern California in the juniors and I, being a similar age, remember him quite well as we progressed through the years.
The image of a small skinny boy with long blonde hair and a backwards hat is how I still picture him to this day (Google it if you don’t believe me). I remember him beating up on guys twice his size and a couple years older with his crafty skills and quick movement. He would love to hit junk balls and I would be on the court next to him watching him dropshot then lob his opponent to death.
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.”
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!