epa03239647 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA returns to Sabine Lisicki of Germany during their first round match for the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 28 May 2012. EPA/CHRISTOPHE KARABA |
Former top-five players David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, James Blake and Kimiko Date-Krumm; Americans Tim Smyczek, Steve Johnson, Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Sanchez, Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend; and Shahar Peer and Kristina Mladenovic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 4 – 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced by Steve Simon, tournament director.
In addition to Blake, seven other Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Milwaukee native Tim Smyczek, who is at a career-high ranking just outside the top 100 and pushed World No. 4 David Ferrer to four sets at the 2013 Australian Open; 19-year-old breakout star Madison Keys, who has already defeated five top-50 players in 2013 and cracked the top 80 earlier this month; WTA veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the 2012 Australian Open Mixed Doubles title; another USC standout – Maria Sanchez, who is at a career-high ranking after jumping 560 ranking places in 2012 – more than any other player in the WTA; Georgia native Melanie Oudin captured her first WTA title last year in Birmingham (UK); and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.
“This year’s main draw wildcards span from seasoned veterans, to rising American and international stars to those returning from injury,” said Simon. “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.
Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Christian Harrison, Jack Sock, Rhyne Williams, Dennis Novikov, Grace Min, Jessica Pegula and Irina Falconi, German Andrea Petkovic and Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic.
With all the feeling of one of those Grand Slams that insist on playing first round matches for the entire first week, the search for match of note continued on Tuesday after the curse of the breadstick score-lines.
Even though Roger Federer is not yet assured of a place in the semifinals, fans went home happy from the O2 Arena on Tuesday at the World Tour Finals. They had the pleasure of witnessing stellar, straight-set performances from both Federer and Andy Murray. Federer remains in ideal shape to reach the last four in London while Murray stays alive.
Whilst it is easy to ridicule the Group A score-lines, surely Wednesday will yield at least one match with a more complex score-line? Let’s take a look at the candidates as the winners and losers do battle.
Earlier in the week an Italian journalist went on a routine of asking all the players which one of the other players they’d most like to have dinner with and what question they’d ask that player. Four — Nishikori, Cilic, Raonic, and Wawrinka — chose Roger Federer, for differing reasons.
It will be a tale of two very different matchups on Wednesday at the World Tour Finals. Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka both handed out 6-1, 6-1 breadsticks in their opening matches on Monday. The winner of their showdown will be almost--if not officially--a lock to reach the semifinals. On the other hand, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic are in dire need of a win.