Professional tennis fans who are now in post-Grand Slam depression as a result of the Australian Open ending on Sunday, January 29, 2023, can look forward to tennis’s unofficial fifth major tournament, Indian Wells, also known as the BNP Paribas Open, scheduled for March 6-19, 2023.
Here is your cheatsheet for this tournament.
The Tournament Is 49 Years Old
The tournament is 49 years old, but many do not realize this because it had several name and venue changes over the years.
It is sometimes called the Indian Wells Masters, the Indian Wells Open, and the BNP Paribas Open.
At its inception in 1974, it was held in Tucson, Arizona and only the men competed.
It moved to California in 1976 and has never left the state despite skipping around to different cities.
Rancho Mirage hosted from 1976-1980 followed by La Quinta from 1981-1986.
Since 1987, it has been held at Indian Wells, and the women’s draw was added in 1989.
It Has Always Been A Fan And Player Favorite
Fans flock to this event in sunny California before spring breaks in the rest of the US.
The tournament has been known to attract 400,000 spectators over a two-week period to what many refer to as “Tennis Paradise.”
The players like the event also; 96 men and 96 women enter the draw each year.
It attracts all of the big names in tennis.
Players featured in the Netflix docuseries Break Point showed behind-the-scenes footage of the 2022 tournament that adds to its allure.
The 2022 champions are native Californian Taylor Fritz (USA) and Iga Swiatek (Poland).
Prize Money Is Close To Equal For Men And Women
While the Grand Slams get the most media attention and highest purses for the men’s and women’s singles champions, there remains a disparity in prize money for men and women in other tournaments outside of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open.
Indian Wells is a tournament with nearly equal prize money with 8.5 million dollars distributed on the men’s side and 8.3 million distributed to the female participants in 2022.
Who Wins In 2023?
Fritz had a breakout victory in 2022 at Indian Wells.
Despite battling an injury he defeated Rafael Nadal for the title.
Can he repeat this success now that he has more pressure on him as the highest-ranked US male tennis player?
Iga Swiatek, despite winning two Grand Slams in 2022, got her 2023 season off on a very disappointing note.
She entered the Australian Open as a favorite only to be ousted in the round of 16 by the tournament’s eventual runner-up and defending Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
It remains to be seen if Fritz can continue to ascend the rankings and repeat as champion of this tournament or if Swiatek can rebound from an unexpected early exit in Melbourne.
Regardless, the glamour, sun, and fun at Indian Wells can help tennis fans escape the winter doldrums.