INDIAN WELLS, March 9, 2016
There are nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events throughout the calendar and the first falls in March at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with its stunning backdrop of Southern California’s Santa Rosa Mountains. The Tennis Garden is one the best equipped facilities on the ATP Tour with Hawk Eye Systems on all of its eight match courts. Its 16.100-seat stadium is the second biggest purpose-built tennis arena in the world. The BNP Parisbas Open is played on hard courts and is the best attended tennis event outside the four Grand Slams setting a record in 2015 with 456,672 visitors during the 23 days of the combined event for women and men. At the tournament’s 41st edition, the singles main draw features 96 players, including 43 of the ATP top 50-players battling for the total prize money of $7,037,595.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who clinched the title here the past two years, headlines the field when he will take on the winner of the encounter between Teymuraz Gabashvili and a qualifier after he had received a first round bye. Second seed Andy Murray, who reached the final here in 2009 (lost to Nadal), is playing his first ATP tournament since becoming a father last month. He will either face Marcel Granollers or Damir Dzumhur in his opening match. Dzumhur is one of 10 players, who will make their first time appearance in Indian Wells. The others are Inigo Cervantes, Jared Donaldson, Kyle Edmund, Taylor Fritz, Mackenzie McDonald, John Millman, Lucas Pouille, Frances Tiafoe and German teenager Alexander Zverev.
The tournament’s number three Stan Wawrinka will open his title quest against the winner of the match between Illya Marchenko and Dmitry Tursonov. Fourth favourite Rafael Nadal returns to the hard courts for the first time since losing in the opening round of the Australian Open to Fernando Verdasco. He faces Gilles Muller or Victor Estrella Burgos.
Four of the five wild cards in the main draw are US-American youngsters: 19-year-old Jared Donaldson, who captured his first ATP Challenger title in Maui last year; Taylor Fritz, who cracked the top 100 by the age of 18; 20-year-old Mackenzie McDonald, who is playing his only second tournament of the season and Frances Tiafoe, who has become the youngest US-American to compete at Roland Garros since Michael Chang. The other wild card is Juan Martin del Potro, who reached the final in his last Indian Wells appearance three years ago, when he lost to Nadal. The Argentine returns to the desert for the first time since 2013.
Tiafoe and Fritz will go head to head in the opening round for their very first meeting on the senior tour. Tiafoe, who is 10 months younger than his opponent, beat Fritz two times in junior’s at the ITF Pan American 2013 as well as the Easter Bowl Championships one year later.