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.
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The WTA year end championships begins today in Istanbul, Turkey, with the top 8 players competing in a round robin format. There are two groups (Red and White) of four players each, with the top two from each group moving into the semifinals. The Red Group is loaded up with world #1 Victoria Azarenka, red hot Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber (the tour’s leader in match wins this year), and Na Li. In the White Group, Maria Sharapova headlines with Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani.
In other news…
–Venus Williams won her first title since February of 2010, defeating Monica Niculescu in the Luxembourg final 6-2 6-3 this past weekend. It’s her 44th career title, the second-most among active players behind only her sister Serena.
–Caroline Wozniacki won her 20th career title at the Kremlin Cup last week, defeating Samantha Stosur in a riveting final, 6-2 4-6 7-5. Caroline built up a 6-2 4-3 lead, but the Aussie came storming back, winning five straight games, winning the second set and taking an early lead in the 3rd. ‘Woz hung tough and battled back to take the deciding third set.
Stay tuned this week as the world’s best battle it out in Turkey for the year end championships! Thanks for reading!
The end of the WTA season is looming, with the year end championships coming at the end of the month in Turkey. Let’s take a look at what’s happened since the US Open in the women’s game…
–Victoria Azarenka once again proved she (along with Serena Williams) are in a class by themselves over the rest of the tour, cruising through the draw to win the China Open without dropping a set. In fact, no set was closer than 6-4, including her win over world #2 Maria Sharapova in the final, 6-3 6-1. She’s won 15 of her last 16 matches (not counting her w/o in Tokyo) with her only loss coming in the US Open final against Serena, 7-5 in the third.
-Former world #3 Nadia Petrova got hot in Japan, taking down three top 10 players en route to her winning the Tokyo Open, her second WTA title of the year. This marks the first time that Petrova has beaten three top 10 players in the same tournament in her career. The rejuvenated 30-year-old Petrova has bigger visions after winning this title. “There are a few players who have won Grand Slams after 30, and I feel like I don’t want to walk away from tennis without accomplishing the same.”
-18-year-old Laura Robson is using the confidence she gained from winning the mixed doubles silver medal at the Olympics with Andy Murray to continue to vault up the rankings. She has won 10 of her last 13 matches going back to the US Open (including two top 10 wins at the Open) and is currently at a career high ranking of 56 in the world. Look for the youngster to keep improving and crack the top 20 real soon.
Stay tuned for more WTA blogs…Thanks for reading!