The Indian Wells Masters is arguably the first major event of 2014, after the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament. There is little wonder, therefore, that with the exception of Serena Williams, every top men and women tennis player is participating in the big event, which has already entered the second week in California, USA. The tournament is also called BNP Paribas Open and it is classified as ATP World Tour Masters 1000. Except for the 4th seed Tomas Berdych, 6th seed Juan Martin del Potro and 9th seed Jo-Willfried Tsonga and women’s third seed Victoria Azarenka, all other seeded players were on course in the tournament until Sunday.
On Monday, however, last year’s defending champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova exited the tournament under different circumstances. Nadal had a tough third-round match against Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov before losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-7. Earlier, Rafael Nadal had another hard-fought second round encounter against Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek before prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. 4th seed Maria Sharapova was a bundle of nerves in losing her third-round match to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-4, 5-7. Sharapova played extremely poorly with eight service breaks against her, in addition to committing a whopping 58 unforced errors. Berdych, who had a great start to 2014, lost to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, it was Berdych’s second loss since the Dubai Duty Free Open final against Roger Federer. An injury forced Juan Martin del Potro to withdraw; Tsonga lost to compatriot Julien Benneteau and Victoria Azarenka had her foot injury aggravated as she limped out, losing in the second round to Lauren Davis of the US.
Novak Djokovic, who could not defend his titles at the Australian Open and again at Dubai Duty-Free, has stayed on course for his first title of the 2014 season. Last year he had lost in the semifinal to del Potro but he is the holder of two Championship title in Indian Wells.
5th seed Britain’s Andy Murray has had two tough matches already. In the second round match, Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic took the first set from the Wimbledon champion but Murray regained his composure and finally won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. On Monday Murray fought with another Czech, Jiri Vesely in the third round before winning 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The sole American remaining in the tournament, 12th seeded American John Isner moved up with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.
Among the women, top seed Li Na entered last 16 defeating Pliskova of Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4; 2nd seed Agnieszka Radwanska scored 6-0, 6-0 third-round victory over the German Annika Beck; Sloane Stephens of US defeated Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 7-6, 6-4; Australian open finalist Dominika Cibulkova beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-5 and in a third round upset, Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard, who created a sensation at this year’s Australian open, defeated the 9th seed Italian Sara Errani 6-3, 6-3.
It seems Roger Federer has decided to enjoy himself in the Californian desert after his Dubai title. In addition to playing the singles, Federer is also teaming up with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in the doubles competition. The two had played earlier in 2011 but lost in the third round. After that Federer has played very little in doubles competitions. This year, the pair had a great first round three-set win against Dubai Duty-Free champion Indo-Pak pair of R Bopanna and A Qureshi and they followed it up with another victory against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia and Milos Raonic Canada. In men’s singles, Federer also won a tight third-round match against Russia’s Dmitry Turusnov 7-6, 7-6. Australian open champion Wawrinka is playing his first major tournament after his Grand Slam victory and he easily defeated Andreas Seppi of Italy in a third round encounter.
The BNP tournament is being played on hard surfaces and soon afterwards, the players will shift focus to another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 at Miami Florida, where the Sony Open will also be staged on hard surfaces from March 17-30, 2014. After the prestigious Sony Open Tennis, the tennis scene will gradually shift to clay surfaces in preparation for the year’s second Grand Slam, the French Open at Roland Garros.