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Indian Wells Masters

Indian Wells Masters/

The first ATP Masters/WTA Premier Mandatory event in the tennis calendar takes place at the beginning of March. 

The two-week tournament is held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Southern California, and is recognised as one of the sport’s biggest competitions outside of the Grand Slams. 


Background

The tournament began in 1974, and was initially an ATP fund-raising event held in Tuscon, Arizona.  It moved to Palm Springs, then Rancho Mirage and La Quinta before setting in Indian Wells in 1987. The WTA played a tournament there for the first time in 1989, but it was held prior to the men’s event until 1996, when both tours saw the benefit in staging a concurrent mixed competition. 

The men’s and women’s tournaments had different sponsor names until 2000, when both events became known as the Tennis Masters Series Indian Wells. Two years later the name changed again to the Pacific Life Open, but since 2009 it is referred to as the BNP Paribas Open. 

The changes in venues and sponsors reflect the tournament’s growth over the decades: the number of annual spectators has increased from 30,000 to 370,000, making it the best-attended non-Grand Slam event in tennis. The construction of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2000 brought even greater prestige. The 54-acre complex houses 24 courts with state-of-the-art facilities, and the venue’s main stadium, seating over 16,000 fans, is the second biggest in the world. 

Indian Wells is one of only two tournaments to feature a 96-player singles draw, whereby the top 32 seeds receive a bye into the second round. The men’s and women’s champions are each awarded 1000 ranking points.


Past Champions

Roger Federer has won more titles in Indian Wells than any other player. To date, the Swiss has triumphed four times in the Coachella Valley, winning from 2004 - 2006 and again in 2012. 

Just behind him on the list of multiple champions are Jimmy Connors, who won three titles, and Michael Chang, champion in 1992, 1996 and 1997. Among those who lifted the trophy on two occasions are Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic. 

No woman has ever won more than two Indian Wells titles, but the roll of honour features many of the all-time greats, including Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters. Arguably the most successful female player at the tournament is Lindsay Davenport, who reached six finals and was victorious twice.


Classic matches

Stefan Edberg def. Andre Agassi, 1990 final:
Agassi was a superstar in the making when he reached his first Masters final, gaining a reputation as a courageous, flamboyant player and winning legions of fans around the globe. In contrast, his opponent in the 1990 Indian Wells final was multiple Grand Slam winner and quintessential serve-volleyer Stefan Edberg. This match was one of the closest the two ever played, and featured some superb shotmaking from both men. Edberg eventually triumphed 6-4, 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, but he had to summon some of his best tennis to defeat the young Las Vegan.

Video: Edberg v Agassi, 1990 

Serena Williams def. Steffi Graf, 1999 final:
Somewhat similar to the Agassi-Edberg match-up nine years earlier, the 1999 women’s final was a contest between a powerful and eye-catching youngster and one of the most decorated players in the sport. At the time, Serena Williams was better known as the younger sister of Venus, but her stunning performance against Steffi Graf in the title match proved that she was the real deal. Serena, just 17 years old, held her nerve in tense moments and managed what so few players had been able to do before: dominate Graf from the back of the court. The American’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory was only the second tournament win of her career, but it was already clear that a major new force in women’s tennis had arrived.

Video: Serena v Graf, 1999


Trivia

  • In 2011, Indian Wells became the first tournament in the world to provide the Hawk-Eye challenge system on every match court.
  • Lisa Raymond has won a record seven doubles titles in Indian Wells. 
  • In 2012, Indian Wells became the first ever combined tour-level event to offer over $1 million to the champions. 
  • From 1992 - 1999, the WTA tournament was named after Chris Evert. 
  • From 1985 - 2001, the men’s final was a best-of-five-sets match. This was also the case in 2005 - 2006, but since 2007 the showpiece has been best-of-three sets. 
  • Bob and Mike Bryan, the most successful doubles team of all time, have never won the Indian Wells title.
  • No British man has ever lifted the trophy in Indian Wells, but the three best Brits of recent times have come close: Greg Rusedski reached the final in 1998, Tim Henman was runner-up in 2002 and 2004, and Andy Murray was beaten by Rafael Nadal in the 2009 final.

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