Inside BNP Paribas Open, ‘The Fifth Grand Slam’ — Indian Wells Quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Mar. 14, 2023

Happy Tennis Tuesday and Happy Pi Day to all those who celebrate! The BNP Paribas Open is entering it’s second week and the round of 16 lineup is looking pretty fabulous (at submission, (8) Daria Kasatkina was in the middle of her match against (Q) Varvara Gracheva):

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(1) Iga Swiatek vs. Emma Raducanu
Sorana Cirstea vs. (5) Caroline Garcia
Marketa Vondrousova vs. Karolina Muchova
(10) Elena Rybakina vs. (8) Daria Kasatkina/(Q) Varvara Gracheva
(7) Maria Sakkari vs. (17) Karolina Pliskova
(15) Petra Kvitova vs. (3) Jessica Pegula
(6) Coco Gauff vs. (Q) Rebecca Peterson
(16) Barbora Krejcikova vs. (2) Aryna Sabalenka

The tournament has been commonly referred by many in tennis at the sport’s “Fifth Grand Slam.” Am I one of them? No. (Editor’s note: but we kind of just did? I’m just saying.) But I can more than see why with the upgrades and innovations the tournament produces. I say no because I can’t see one country dominating with two Grand Slams, or perhaps I’m a traditionalist and don’t think we’ll ever see a new Grand Slam.


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But what makes “Tennis Paradise” so special?

In no particular order, we’ll discuss the food first. From Nobu to Jet Tila’s Bistro 88, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden rivals Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili and Graeter’s Ice Cream. IYKYK. However, the concessions is where they truly shine with over a dozen of staples that scream “California.” Pink’s Hot Dog? Check. Fuku Fried Chicken? Check. Baja Mex? Like, COME ON.

And the tennis in Coachella Valley is pretty special. There aren’t many stops in the desert throughout the year, so the matches can get pretty interesting throughout the fortnight. Stadium 1 is the second-largest outdoor tennis stadium in the world, by capacity. However, because of the location, the winds there and around the grounds can be intense. The courts are a bit slower and the rallies are longer than your traditional hardcourt tennis from the past, but the dramatic matches and late-night finishes are all-too familiar.

Doubles is also extremely popular — not only by the fans, but by players too! It seems to be one of the most populated non-Grand Slam draws and this year’s was no different. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova vs. Veronika Kudermetova/Liudmila Samsonova and Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens vs. Paula Badosa/Elena Rybakina were first rounds. Other fun duos? Bianca Andreescu/Yulia Putintseva, Taylor Townsend/Leylah Fernandez and of course, local product Desirae Krawczyk.

Last, but certainly not least, is the fan access. Yes, I talked last summer about how Cincinnati has the best fan access because the same players playing the US Open are playing there and you’re up close, but Indian Wells ramps it up with their practice courts. The site only has nine match courts, but twenty practice courts — which have helped the tournament break attendance records this year. Their secret weapon, however, is the Player Lawn — a quad where players can hang out, warm-up or cool down or interact with their fans.

I’m leaving you with this ICONIC video from famed Indian Wells queen Lawanda:

Onto links!



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This Week in Women’s Tennis

International Women’s Day was last week, but the day before, ATP player Denis Shapovalov penned a letter for The Players’ Tribune that was lauded by WTA players. He also sat down in this video for more parity in the sport:

50 years ago, the WTA was created, but the top was dominated by only a few countries. Now, women’s tennis is as global as ever with a melting pot making up today’s current crop of talent.

Universal Tennis Foundation’s Hurd Award recipient Peyton Stearns made good use of her BNP Paribas Open wildcard by winning her first match and taking former champion Bianca Andreescu to three sets. The reigning NCAA champion is hoping to break into the Top 100 guided by the self-belief that got her thus far.

I flip-flop on sideline coaching, because I was a fan of on-court coaching and the SAP tablet coaches used to show strategy. However, the new rules pretty much get rid of illegal coaching but ruin the original sanctity of tennis — fully individual.

Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from her third round match against Aryna Sabalenka due to an apparent panic attack following a conversation with WTA CEO Steve Simon about the Ukraine-Russia conflict’s effect on tour. In other news, Jelena Ostapenko’s funding from her home country was cut as long as she continues to play tournaments where Russians and Belarussians are playing.

Elena Rybakina is as cool as a cucumber, which is probably helping the reigning Wimbledon champion reach new heights in 2023.

Coco Gauff celebrated her 19th birthday in Indian Wells, but she’s a seasoned vet at her third BNP Paribas Open. Enjoy this gem from Gauff herself:

It has been confirmed that Netflix will be releasing a second season of Break Point and Maria Sakkari discussed her thoughts on being featured in the inaugural season.

Karolina Muchova is healthy and has two more eyes in her box guiding her to hopefully more trick shots and deep tournament runs.

Down 0-6, 0-3 wasn’t a problem for Brenda Fruhvirtova, who came back to win the biggest title of her career at the W40 ITF World Tour event in Bengalaru. The 15-year-old is aiming for a jump in the WTA rankings to play the same tournaments as 18-year-old sister Linda, who is looking to reach the world’s elite after her own 2022 breakthrough.

Anett Kontaveit hasn’t played in a month due to a back injury that, unfortunately, will never go away, but the Estonian is undergoing treatment to maintain and come back for next month’s Billie Jean King Cup playoffs.

Just about a year ago, Iga Swiatek first reached the No. 1 ranking and is the 4th woman ever to spend at least 50 weeks in their first stint atop the podium. Inspired by her friend Mikaela Shiffrin’s record-breaking World Cup race, the Pole tries to maintain perspective as the most-hunted prey.

I’ve discussed Rebecca Marino a bit in 2021, but Tennis Canada produced a video series breaking down her first career and retirement and the comeback that has brought her back to the Top 100.

The Credit One Charleston Open field has been announced and safe to say it’s loaded.

ITF President Dave Haggerty is asking the heads of tennis federations to narrow the gap in gender equity in the sport though their Advantage All campaign that was launched in 2020.

I missed this, but on February 20th, American Sydney Dorcil was provisionally suspended after a doping test came back positive for Bolendone, a substance commonly found in South American meat and the culprit for multiple positive tests this past year.



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Five at The IX: BNP Paribas Week 1 Quotes

Q. Everyone knows that you have this great quality of sort of looking at issues beyond the court and caring about justice, freedom. Obviously in your state there have been these very serious initiatives in terms of black AP, banning books, going after the college in Sarasota. Your thoughts about it if you would. Does it upset you? Could you just reflect on that, please.

COCO GAUFF: I mean, my thoughts on it, I think history is history. Education is education. I mean, I know going on in the state of Florida there’s a lot of conversation about that, but my personal opinion, I mean, it’s history. I feel like when you don’t teach kids history, they’re bound to repeat it. I have been growing up to learn the goods and bads, and a brown history. I think you can learn a lot from that.

Regarding that topic, obviously I don’t really like what’s going on, but I think the only way to move forward is when we have conversations. You’d be really surprised when you have conversations with kids, even at a young age, what they can take from it and how they can apply it to the future. I see this with my brothers.

I think, I don’t know, I feel like adults have a little construct as they get older and think kids can’t handle certain information, but you have to remember they have a clean slate and they’re looking at things. What we teach them can kind of help shape who they are going to be in the future. If we want to have good morals and hopefully a better history in the future, I think we have to teach even the dark parts of it, in an age-appropriate way of course.

When I was going to school, and even my grandparents and my parents, they never really hid anything from me. If I had questions, they always answered them truthfully. I think that’s important more so when we have those conversations, because then kids, especially younger kids, aren’t, I guess, scared to ask those questions and maybe form maybe unhealthy opinions or relationships to certain things because we have guarded them so much. That’s my opinion on that.

Q. You wrote beautifully, bravely, about being an introvert. And you also said the key thing was gaining a certain freedom to not care what other people feel. Can you just talk about that, how you worked on that, how you got to that place, and do you feel…

IGA SWIATEK: You mean not care what other people are saying?

Q. Yeah.

IGA SWIATEK: Hmm. Well, honestly, I was like lucky to do it kind of step by step, because everything I did in my career was kind of step by step. And for sure after, you know, first Roland Garros, that was the time where I had to kind of cut off everything that people thought, and maybe I thought sometimes, and just focus on work and developing as a player.

Yeah, because like playing after winning first Grand Slam is really hard. So I was always — it was always easy for me to cut off social media sometimes where I needed time off from that. I just sometimes I’m just going there to like post my stuff and I’m not reading anything. It helps, for sure.

But there are times where it hits me a little bit. Like after Doha and Dubai, you know, I won a tournament, I was in the final of another one, and like people were disappointed that I lost. It’s pretty crazy, because last year if I would have that result at that time, it would be amazing. But sometimes these comments impact me a little bit more than they should probably and also I’m not happy with the result at the end.

I don’t want to come to that point and I have like few choices. I can just not read it or I can remember and be logical and tell myself that, Hey, Iga, it’s a great result. They are saying because they don’t know, you know, what it takes to be a tennis player, and how hard it is to be consistent.

So, yeah, I’m doing that both ways.

Q. I’d like just to ask you a general question about tennis. Our sport has a lot of traditions, a lot of rules, some are good, some maybe not so good. If you could change one rule or one tradition in the sport of tennis, what would that be?

MARIA SAKKARI: The medical timeouts (smiling). I think that sometimes there is a late notice from the player that — it wasn’t today the case. The girl asked, like in advance. I’m not talking about today’s match.

But there have been matches where you just, you know, you sit on the chair for the changeover, and then suddenly they remember to call the physio. Then it’s just that the physio has to come all the way from the building. Sometimes it’s far. Then it ends up being not only three minutes, but it ends up being eight.

So you get cold. I think that there should be a fine line with when you can call the physio, and maybe you should say it in advance unless, you know, it’s an extreme situation where, you know, something very, like, unfortunate happens, like let’s say when Zverev, you know, just, twisted his ankle. Of course, you know, you can’t say that in advance.

Q. I was out there and you got a lot of support. Crowd loves you. What do you think it is about you and your game that resonates with so many people?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don’t know. I think they like to see my powerful game. I don’t know. Probably that’s why (smiling). Probably they just like me because I’m a nice person. I don’t know. I hope it both.

Q. You talked about the conditions. I was just wondering what in your mind are the greatest conditions for you?

PETRA KVITOVA: Centre Court at Wimbledon, I would say, playing on the grass (smiling) with the new balls.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon