For the first time in history, both of the reigning BNP Paribas Open Champions will take the court at Roland Garros as the defending French Open Champions, as well. Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova each made statements at the 2012 French Open and 2013 BNP Paribas Open, and although each statement was different, the historical impact of their respective runs to the titles cannot be overstated.
Rafael Nadal entered the 2012 French Open tied with Tennis Hall of Famer Bjorn Borg for most career titles on the terre battue – each considered the “King of Clay” in their respective eras, Nadal and Borg both had six titles in Paris. Nadal, however, stormed to the 2012 title, dropping only one set en route, to become the outright French Open titles leader. Since his first showing at Roland Garros in 2005 (which he won), the Spaniard is 52-1, the only loss coming to an in-form Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round.
The storylines were aplenty during this year’s BNP Paribas Open as the best tennis players in the world descended on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the biggest event outside of the Grand Slams. From the comeback of Rafael Nadal to continued success for Maria Sharapova, we break down 16 storylines that kept us watching on the blog.
Rafa’s Outrageous Run | What a fighter Rafael Nadal is. After a seven-month layoff, the Spaniard came back to tennis in February and was simply unbeatable in two weeks at the BNP Paribas Open, conquering Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro on his way to the title – his third in Indian Wells and record 22nd Masters 1000 trophy. His five wins here pushed his 2013 record to 17-1 and the win over Del Potro marked his 13th straight over a Top 10 opponent, dating back to Indian Wells 2012. The quarterfinal victory over Federer was an electric affair Thursday night as nearly every seat inside Stadium 1 filled up to witness the 29th edition of Federer vs. Nadal. | WATCH:Rafa and Rog’s Journey to Main Stadium | Read the Rog-Rafa Wrap-Up
Sharapova’s Repeat… 7 Years Later | It is the longest gap between two BNP Paribas Open titles, but that didn’t seem to bother Maria Sharapova much. The 2006 champion here won it again in 2013 in scintillating fashion, not dropping a set in six matches and losing just 28 games. Her blistering final performance against Caroline Wozniacki gave her a WTA title for the 11th consecutive year, the longest streak among any active player. | MORE: Sharapova on the Blog | Wozniacki
Del Potro Stops Djokovic Streak
It was a win in the semifinals that few expected as Juan Martin Del Potro beat Novak Djokjovic in three sets, snapping a win streak of 22 matches for the world No. 1 and top seed. Del Potro’s victory over Andy Murray a round earlier had raised plenty of eyebrows, and the Argentine’s effort at Indian Wells welcomed him back as a true contender among the top men in 2013. Djokovic’s streak stretched into 2012 and included the ATP World Tour Finals, the Australian Open and a win in Dubai last month.
Woznaicki’s Third Final in Four Years
How much does Caroline Wozniacki love Indian Wells? A lot. The former world No. 1 won the title at the BNP Paribas Open in 2011 and reached her third final in four years by overcoming Angelique Kerber in three thrilling sets (she lost to Ana Ivanovic in the 2010 final). The No. 8 seed broke a three-match losing streak against Kerber with the semifinal win, assuring her she’d move a spot higher to No. 9 in the world following the tournamen. | Q&A:5 Minutes with Kerber | GUEST BLOG: Sam Stosur
At Long Last, A Win for the Bryan Bros.
You can teach old dogs new tricks, after all. Bob and Mike Bryan had been to the final twice before at the BNP Paribas Open but the Southern California natives had never won it in 15 overall tries. That changed Saturday night as the hometown boys finally captured the crown here, a goal they had set at the beginning of the 2013 season.
6 Months Away, Fish Flies Again
The feel-good story of the BNP Paribas Open was Mardy Fish‘s marked return to the game, six months after he pulled out of the US Open and left competition because of complications from a heart issue. Fish won a second round match against Bobby Reynolds in three sets, then played toe-to-toe with No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round before falling. He also teamed up with fellow American James Blake to win a pair of thrilling doubles matches. | ALSO:James Blake on Fatherhood
382,227: Another Attendance Record
Fans came streaming into the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in droves once again for the BNP Paribas Open, this time in record numbers, far surpassing the 370,000 that came to the tournament a year ago. | MORE:Ballkids Excel Once Again
Breaking Ground for Stadium 2 Expansion
Just you wait until next year. Tractors have already begun to move in on the grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as a new 8,000-seat Stadium 2 will be up in time for the 2014 BNP Paribas Open. Additionally, a 19,000-square foot shade structure, two in-stadium restaurants and more parking and garden space. | MORE:On the Expansion
The Battle of the Marias
It was Sharapova vs. Kirilenko in the semifinals, marking a rematch of their quarterfinal clash at Indian Wells from a year ago. But this time Maria Kirilenko registered four straight three-set wins – including over No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5 Petra Kvitova – to make it to her first-ever semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open. It was the eventual champion who came out on top, however, Sharapova subduing her compatriot 6-4, 6-3. | WATCH:Quizzing the WTA Stars
Querrey is Last American Standing Sam Querrey is the new man to beat. The 23-year-old Southern California native won one of the tournament’s longest matches when he beat Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 7-5 in two hours, 47 minutes to solidify his spot in the fourth round. He’d fall there to Djokovic in a tough two sets, but with the round of 16 effort is the new American No. 1, the 13th man to hold such a distinction.
Taylor Townsend’s Arrival
Welcome to pro tennis, Taylor Townsend! The 16-year-old American is a rising star after claiming two junior Grand Slams and finishing 2012 as the top-ranked girl in the world. But Townsend made her WTA debut at Indian Wells here this year and shocked world No. 57 – ranked 414 places ahead of her – Lucie Hradecka 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 inside Stadium 1. Her leaps of joy after the win would be a welcome sight in the California Desert in years to come.
Gulbis Wins Five
Greetings, Ernests Gulbis. His name is one that has been known among diehard tennis fans for a few years now, but five match wins (including two in qualifying) at the BNP Paribas Open and a nail-biting loss to Nadal helped cement his name to memory among sports fans. Gulbis biting wit and free-for-all forehand are two aspects that make him one of tennis’ stars to watch and it was Nadal who actually snapped a 13-match win streak for the Latvian, who had won the title at Delray Beach the week prior.
Hewitt Wows Once Again
Two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Lleyton Hewitt is still one of tennis’ most hard-fighting grinders. He showed that in a second round match against 2012 finalist John Isner, winning 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 before a wowed Stadium 1 weekend crowd. Hewitt, now 32, tracked down ball after ball from the big-serving Isner, who stands 6-foot-9. The Australian lost in round three to Stanislas Wawrinka.
Burdette Keeps on Coming
American Mallory Burdette is one to watch in the future. After making the third round of the US Open last year, the Stanford standout left school to pursue a pro career on tour. Six months later she makes the third round at Indian Wells, taking eventual semifinalist Kirilenko to three sets. The hard-hitting Georgia native won two matches in qualifying to make the main draw, as well.
Date-Krumm Doesn’t Tire
At 42 years old, Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm was playing in the BNP Paribas Open in both singles and doubles – 22 years after she played the event for the first time. She paired with Australian Casey Dellacqua to march to the doubles semifinal before losing to eventual winnersEkaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
The Stars Come Out to Indian Wells Gladys Knight, David Robinson, Kevin Spacey. You name them, they came. Other well-known names including Kate Walsh, Bill Gates, tournament owner Larry Ellison and Gavin Rossdale took in tennis in the California desert at some point throughout the two weeks. Even legendary tennis writer Bud Collinsmade an appearance.
Here a Blog, There a Blog
It may not have been as glamorous as the tennis, but my blog posts throughout the week chronicled my first-ever experience at Indian Wells, as I tried to encapsulate the many wonders of the BNP Paribas Open. The Bryan brothers on Stadium 2? Loved it. Up close and personal practice sessions? The best. And a behind-the-scenes look at players in press after their matches was as revealing to me as I hope it was to all you. Oh and the upper deck of Stadium 1? Thumbs up, my friends.
Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova are your 2013 BNP Paribas Open singles champions. See how the championship day played out below.
Photo of the Day: Pure jubilation for Rafael Nadal.
And: A happy Maria Sharapova.
Match of the Day:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) def.  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
There was no stopping Rafa at the BNP Paribas Open in 2013. Following his rousing victories over Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in the previous two rounds the Spaniard fought off a thrilling challenge from Del Potro, who was hitting his monstrous forehand as big as ever to gain a 6-4, 3-1 lead. But Nadal would not wilt, winning the final five games of the second set and breaking early in the third to gain control of the match. The 26-year-old served out the win after having three championship points in the previous game, his emotion apparent as he fell to the ground with arms overstretched following the win.
Honorable Mention:  Maria Sharapova (RUS) def.  Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6-2, 6-2
When Sharapova is on, she’s one of the hardest players to be in tennis. She certainly was on Sunday in the final against Wozniacki, who had beaten her twice before in six meetings. But the Russian’s powerful game was too much for the Dane in this final, the first time they met for a trophy. Sharapova thwacked 33 winners in the scintillating performance, which gave her a WTA title for the 11th consecutive year, the most among any active players.
Tweet of the Day: All eyes on Sharapova? The 2013 BNP Paribas Open champion turned the lens on the camera men and women who cover the tournament after her tournament victory, tweeting out this picture of them all together.
Quote of the Day: Asked about the difference between her 2006 title and this one, Sharapova had this to say: “I don’t think I have gray hairs yet, but … I’m still very lucky that I’m here and that I’m still doing it and that I still love it and have the passion to do it. I feel like I’m a different player. I’m a much more experienced player. I have learned so much over the years. But it’s nice to hold up that trophy after so many years.”
Fact of the Day: With his win on Sunday, Nadal earns his 600th career ATP World Tour victory in 13 years on the tour. The 26-year-old Spaniard notched his 22nd Masters Series 1000 title, giving him the most of any player – in history. The win also gave him a 13th straight victory over a top 10 opponent, dating back to Indian Wells a year ago.
Plus: After another 16,000-plus came to watch the tennis Sunday, the tournament announced that it set an attendance record with 382,227 people streaming through the gates for the event in total.
It was a record-setting day in many ways for Rafael Nadal, who claimed his third BNP Paribas Open in seven years in a dramatic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Juan Martin Del Potro at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The win was extra sweet for Rafa, who had been away from tennis for seven months before returning in February.
Seven years after she won her first BNP Paribas Open title Maria Sharapova was champion again on Sunday following a decisive 6-2, 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki. The 2006 winner blazed through the field at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, not dropping a set in six matches. It was a third final in four years for Wozniacki, who won here in 2011.
It’s the eleventh career meeting between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro, including their third at the BNP Paribas Open. While Rafa owns a 7-3 lead in their head-to-head, they’re dead even on hardcourts at three a piece. We break down their rivalry below.
2011 Davis Cup final rubber: Nadal wins 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (0)
It’s no great surprise that Nadal won this match seeing as it was played on clay and in Spain. Del Potro opened quickly, but it twas the Spaniard who ran off with the second two sets and eventually closed out the win in a fourth-set tiebreak. The victory clinched the Davis Cup title for Spain, securing the team its third title in four years.
2011 Indian Wells semfinal: Nadal wins 6-4, 6-4
It was routine this day for Nadal in the semifinals of Indian Wells, the Spaniard using a single break of serve in both sets to claim the straight-sets victory.
2009 US Open semifinal: Del Potro wins 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
This win may forever have an asterisk next to it because of an abdominal strain that Nadal was suffering at the time, but Del Potro gave the lefty his biggest thrashing in a Grand Slam match of his career. The match was a marked achievement for the Argentine, who reached his first-ever major final with the win and would go on to down Roger Federer for the US Open crown.
2009 Miami quarterfinal: Del Potro wins 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3)
After four straight-set losses against Nadal to begin their rivalry, Del Potro finally registered a win on the board against Nadal in the quarterfinals of Miami in 2009. They would meet four times in 2009, DelPo winning three of them. Nadal led by a break in the third set before Del Potro broke back, evening the match and sending it eventually into a third-set breaker.
Four finalists fight it out for two trophies at the BNP Paribas Open Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Among them is four previous titles at the tournament, two for Rafael Nadal in 2007 and 2009 and one each for Maria Sharapova (2006) and Caroline Wozniacki (2011). Juan Martin Del Potro is in his first final here. How will they fair Sunday? Vote on your winners below.
2012 Miami semifinal: Sharapova wins 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
Just shy of a year ago Wozniacki may have been spent in the semifinals after registering some shock wins earlier in the tournament. She jumped out early in this match, which is something Sharapova is usually keen to do, but couldn’t convert in the third when things got tight. The Russian would fall to Victoria Azarenka in a third straight final the following day.
2011 Indian Wells semifinal: Wozniacki wins 6-1, 6-2
It is the more lopsided of two wins by Wozniacki against the Russian, this one coming in the California Desert in the semifinals. This was perhaps Wozniacki at her best: retrieving, counter punching and not letting a single Sharapova ball get past her. Caroline would go on to win the tournament in the final, her only BNP Paribas Open crown.
2010 US Open fourth round: Wozniacki wins 6-3, 6-4
This was the most epic of their six battles, though it didn’t go three sets. In front of a packed crowd on Arthur Ashe stadium at the US Open, Wozniacki played a clinical match as Sharapova pounded the ball at her and the Dane didn’t relent, closing out the match with a backhand winner down the line.
2008 Doha quarterfinals: Sharapova wins 6-0, 6-1
There is nothing overly remarkable about this meeting except it was their first and Sharapova put the then-18-year-old in her place, giving the world No. 53 just one game in two sets.
Two matches in one day, two battles that no one should miss out on. Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open a spectacular tournament comes to a close with the singles finals featuring some of the game’s most well-known names. Here, we preview the two matches in what should be a scintillating day of tennis.
 Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs.  Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) – Noon
Two of tennis’ most glamorous stars meet in the final of a tournament for the first time in their careers. It’s a series that Sharapova leads by a sliver, up 4-2 in six matches. They met here two years ago in the semifinals, Wozniacki waxing the Russian 6-1, 6-2. But Sharapova has exacted revenge twice since, and added to her Grand Slam trophy case by winning the French Open in June. Over the past two weeks, the two women have both displayed prime tennis, Wozniacki surviving No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber in the semifinals and Sharapova not dropping a set in five previous matches. This match will be a classic Caro-Maria encounter: Sharapova belting the ball from the baseline and Wozniacki doing her best to mix up the pace, utilize the court space and generally frustrate her opponent with consistent tennis. Their current form tips Sharapova to the slightest, though it’s anyone’s game when a BNP Paribas Open trophy is at stake.
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) – Not before 2 pm
Is it third time the charm for Del Potro? The Argentine and the Spaniard have met twice in Indian Wells, Nadal winning both of those affairs (in 2009 and 2011) in straight sets and maintaining a 7-3 overall lead. But Del Potro has been on fire this week, taking down the No. 3 seed Andy Murray in the quarterfinals before shocking world No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, giving the Serb his first loss of the 2013 season and snapping a 22-match win streak. Nadal’s form has been astounding, as well, taking down Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in those rounds. Del Potro’s forehand is the shot that could make or break the final, the same stroke that carried him to the 2009 US Open crown, his only major. It’s Nadal who owns two BNP Paribas Open trophies and would like nothing else to come into Sunday and register his 600th career win, collecting a 22nd Masters Series crown along the way.
What a day of tennis at the BNP Paribas Open. Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro registered thrilling victories in men’s singles to book respective spots in the final while Bob and Mike Bryan and Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina claimed the men’s doubles and women’s titles, respectively, later in the day. Read through the best bits from the sizzling day below.
Photo of the Day: At last! The Bob andMike Bryan notched their first-ever win in Indian Wells on their 15th try. It was their third final after making the last round in 2003 and again in 2006.
And: It’s all smiles from the doubles pair of Elena Vesnina andEkaterina Makarova, the Russians teaming up to beat Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-0, 5-7, 10-6. It was the first BNP Paribas Open crown for Makarova, but her compatriot has now won here in women’s doubles three times (in 2008 with Dinara Safina and in 2011 with Sania Mirza).
Match of the Day:  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) def.  Novak Djokovic (SRG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
From 0-3 down in the third set the Argentine Del Potro played some of his best tennis, winning six of the last seven games and snapping a 22-match win streak by Djokovic that stretched back into the 2012 season. Del Potro roundhouse forehand was clicking, however, as he nailed the corners throughout the third set against an increasingly tentative Djokovic. The No. 7 seed punctuated the match with an ace, giving him his first win over his taller foe since the Olympics last year, having won three straight and leading their head-to-head 8-2.
Honorable Mention:  Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) def. Treat Huey (PHI)/Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 3-6, 10-6
They made it close, but the Bryan brothers are finally champions in Southern California after playing every years at Indian Wells since 1999.
Tweet of the Day: What’s Rafael Nadal do after a big win? Sign lots and lots of autographs. The No. 5 seed spent at least five minutes on court before going into the tunnel and signing balls for the BNP Paribas Open ballkids team. Notice him signing with his right hand? Former player and current TV commentator Darren Cahill shared this shot:
Quote of the Day: Bob Bryan on what it feels like to finally win the BNP Paribas Open:
“It feels really good to exorcise these demons. I served right over there [points across the court] ten years ago for the title and kind of choked it. It’s nice to get out here and play a great match against two really good players. They’re playing together for the first time and we’ve played 3,000 tournaments… and we barely clipped them! We’ll be back next year.”
Fact of the Day: The last time Djokovic lost an outdoor match on hardcourt after winning the first set was way back in 2009 at the Shanghai Masters Series 1000. It was then that he lost to Nikolay Davydenko in semifinals 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1)… over three years ago.
Video of the Day: They can win a big tennis tournament, but how well do they know each other? We tested Vesnina and Makarova on their knowledge of one another earlier in the tournament and got quite the comedic responses from the Russian duo.