By Nicholas McCarvel
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 winners Ekaterina 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 Collins made 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.
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