August 5, 2015

Juan Martin del Potro Leads List of Wildcards into BNP Paribas Open


DelPotro 5 228

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 4, 2015 – Former World No. 4 and Grand Slam Champion Juan Martin del Potro, Americans Tim Smyczek, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Austin Krajicek, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend, Grace Min, Louisa Chirico, Sachia Vickery and Bethanie Mattek-Sands; and teenage rising star Donna Vekic were all granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 9-22 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Tournament Director Steve Simon.



Argentina’s del Potro, who won the 2009 US Open, reached the quarterfinals of Sydney this year, and is rebounding from left wrist surgery on January 19 of this year. This will be his first tournament since Sydney, and he has played in Indian Wells five times with his best result coming in 2013 when he reached the finals.



In addition, ten Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including Smyczek, who battled Rafael Nadal in a four-hour long, five-set second round match at the Australian Open in January, where he was lauded for allowing Nadal to replay a serve late in the match after a disruption from the crowd; Harrison, who reached a ranking of 43 in the world in 2012 and reached the semifinals in Acapulco last week; Kudla, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 90 last summer; Krajicek, who reached his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal in Memphis in February; Gibbs, who reached the third round of the US Open and quarterfinals at Seoul last year; Townsend, who reached the third round of last year’s French Open; Min, who reached the semifinals at Bad Gastein last year, and is currently at a career-high ranking on No. 97 in the world; Chirico, who has four ITF titles, two singles and two doubles; Vickery, who reached the second round of the 2013 US Open; and Mattek-Sands, who reached the third round at this year’s Australian Open in singles and captured the doubles title with Lucie Safarova.



One other international player receiving a wildcard into the main draw is 18-year old Croatian Vekic, who won the first WTA title of her career at Kuala Lumpur last season. The last women’s wildcard was awarded earlier this year to World No. 1 and two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Serena Williams.



“This year’s BNP Paribas Open main draw wildcards add more depth to our already talented fields with Grand Slam Champions Juan Martin del Potro and Serena Williams,” said Simon. “They also provide young American stars like Ryan Harrison, Nicole Gibbs and Taylor Townsend, the opportunity to compete at the BNP Paribas Open.”



Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Mackenzie McDonald, Taylor Fritz, Julia Boserup, Maria Sanchez, Tornado Black, Allie Kiick, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei and Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann.



McDonald is a 19-year old at UCLA who at Cincinnati in 2013 became the first unranked teenager to qualify for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament since Sergio Casal (1995, Miami); 17-year-old San Diego resident Taylor Fritz advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open Junior Championships this January; Boserup has captured two ITF singles titles in her career; Sanchez is a former USC standout and top-ranked collegiate singles player who turned pro in 2011; sixteen-year-old Black has already won two ITF singles titles and earned her highest career ranking in 2014; Kiick made her way inside the top 150 in 2014; Hsieh reached World No. 23 in 2013, making her the highest ranked Taiwanese female singles player ever, and captured the doubles title in 2014 at the BNP Paribas Open; and Hanfmann was No. 1 in both singles and doubles during the 2013-2014 USC tennis season, and helped his team to the 2014 NCAA Championship.



In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the men’s and women’s winners of the BNP Paribas Open Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament taking place March 2-7, will also be granted a berth into the 2015 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw, which starts March 9 for the women, and on March 10 for the men.


Serena Williams Moves into Round of 16; Hopes for the Best for Capriati

Serena Day 2 Press Conference

(March 23, 2013) Five-time Sony Open champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams rebounded from a 0-3 start to beat Japan’s Ayumi Morita 6-3, 6-3 in 75 minutes on Saturday night on Stadium Court. Williams has now improved her record against Morita to 2-0.

Despite the score, Williams said it was a competitive match.

“I think she’s a pretty good player,“ said Williams. “I get a good impression from her.  I played her before.  She’s tough.  She plays well.  She stays really focused and she stays really pumped up, which I think is a really good feature.”

Serena Williams spoke about her sister Venus’ withdrawal from the tournament with an ailing lower back.

“I think it was the right decision for her, “ Serena Williams said.  I haven’t seen her really on the practice court as much because she wasn’t feeling great, so I think she’s taking everything a day at a time.”

Instead of taking a Rolls Royce to the match from her hotel on Saturday, due to the heavy traffic she rode a bicycle.

“The traffic was crazy and everyone was like, I have been here for an hour and I’m staying like eight minutes away, “ Williams said.  They were in the traffic for an hour.  I’m like, Okay, I’m not going to make my match if I don’t get there.

“So I asked for a golf cart, and the hotel didn’t have a golf cart.  Then they were like, we have a motor bike.  I’m like, I don’t do motor bikes.  They said, We have a bicycle.  I said, I really don’t do bicycles, but I will today.  It was fun.”

Williams was asked about her relationship with or if she has been in contact recently with tennis Hall of Famer Jennifer Capriati, who was recently charged with stalking and battery in association with an ex-boyfriend.

“No. Last I heard she was happy I lost in Australia. ” Williams said.  “So, yeah, I don’t really know.  Shocking, but yeah.  I have always been really nice to her, though, and I see her around in Palm Beach, and her mom.

“I always tell her mom to tell her I say hi.  I honestly hope the best for her.  I hope she’s okay.  She has a good heart.”

Back in January during the Australian Open Capriati tweeted: “Maybe tennis will become interesting again. I’ve seen enough Serena to last a life”

The win puts the American into the round of 16 where she’ll face Dominika Cibulkova for a spot in the quarterfinals. Cibulkova stopped Romina Oprandi 6-3, 6-4.

Williams is looking to be the sole record holder for the most singles titles in Sony Open history. She’s currently tied with Steffi Graf with five. Williams won the tournament from 2002-2004 and 2007-2008.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama