Wildcards Announced for BNP Paribas Open

Indian Wells, Calif., February 28, 2011 – Rising stars Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Coco Vandeweghe, and Christina McHale were granted wildcards into the main draws for the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 7-20, 2011 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director. Veterans James Blake, Vania King, Jill Craybas and Sania Mirza were also given wildcards into the main draws.


Raonic, currently ranked No. 37 on the ATP World Tour (from No. 156 at the end of 2010), advanced through qualifying at the Australian Open this January and proceeded to blaze into the fourth round. Just a few weeks ago the 20-year old Canadian captured his first ATP World Tour title in San Jose and reached the finals at Memphis in back to back weeks. With his results he became the highest ranked Canadian singles player in the history of ATP Rankings (since 1973).


In addition, three other up-and-coming stars who have been granted wildcards are Kei Nishikori of Japan, who captured a title in 2008 at Delray Beach and reached the semifinals there last weekend, which helped him climb to No. 62 in the world; American Ryan Harrison, who advanced through qualifying at the US Open last fall and in the first round defeated top 20 star and defending BNP Paribas Open champion Ivan Ljubicic; and Australian Bernard Tomic, who reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year before falling to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. Eighteen-year olds Harrison and Tomic are the two youngest players ranked in the top 200.


They are joined on the men’s side by American veteran and former World No. 4 James Blake, who will be seeking to conjure up memories of 2006 when he made the finals of the BNP Paribas Open. The 10-time winner on the ATP World Tour battled injuries throughout 2010, but is starting to get healthy and looking to climb the rankings.


On the women’s side a host of Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draw including youngsters Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale, Lauren Davis, and Sloane Stephens. Vandeweghe, from San Diego, was part of the US Fed Cup team that competed in the finals against Italy last November. A few weeks ago she reached the quarterfinals of Memphis. McHale, who reached the semifinals at Quebec City last fall, also helped the US Fed Cup team to the finals last year by assisting in a win over France early in 2010. Stephens played through qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open last year and made it to the second round of the main draw. Davis finished 2010 as the No. 3 ranked junior in the world.


In addition, veterans Vania King, who captured two Grand Slam doubles titles in 2010, (w/Shvedova) at Wimbledon and the US Open, and reached the semifinals at Strasbourg in singles; Jill Craybas, who reached the third round of the BNP Paribas Open and the quarterfinals of multiple Tour events in 2010; and Sania Mirza, a former top-30 ranked Indian star, also received wildcards into the main draw. There is one remaining women’s wildcard to be granted.


Qualifying draw wildcards were given to three men’s players.  American Ryan Sweeting reached the quarterfinals at Delray Beach last week and also reached the third round of Wimbledon last year. Steve Johnson is the No. 1 singles and doubles player on the University of Southern California (USC) tennis team that captured back-to-back NCAA championships the last two years. Greg Ouellette is a former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and last season he captured three titles on the ITF circuit.


Former top 30 German star Sabine Lisicki, three young Americans, Madison Keys, Madison Brengle and Maria Sanchez, and rising Puerto Rican junior Monica Puig, were granted wildcards into the women’s qualifying draw. Lisicki won a WTA event at Charleston in 2009 and reached No. 22 in the world, Keys became one of the youngest winners in WTA history two years ago when she won her first career WTA match at Ponte Vedra when she was 14 years old, Brengle has multiple ITF circuit titles to her name, Sanchez is currently the top ranked player in women’s college tennis and plays for USC, and Puig recently reached the finals at the Australian Open Junior Championships.


There are two more qualifying draw wildcards to be distributed and will be given to the men’s and women’s winner of the BNP Paribas Open Pre-Qualifier, which begins tomorrow in Indian Wells and runs through March 6. Between the men and women, the Pre-Qualifier had a record 145 entries.


About the BNP Paribas Open
The BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 7-20 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, is the largest combined ATP World Tour and WTA event in the world, with more than 339,000 fans attending in 2010. Ticket and Hotel packages can be purchased by logging onto www.bnpparibasopen.com, calling the Indian Wells box office, 800-999-1585 or 760-200-8000, or visiting the box office, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA, 92210.