5. Milos Raonic
Milos Raonic has cemented himself into the top-6 since the start of February for one reason only: Belief in self. He trusts his talent, yet knows exactly what needs work – the will to win against the very best. His target for improvement is clear; improvement that can only come from experience playing the most talented on tour.
All year, he’s put himself in position to face top-talent: In Brisbane, he defeated World #5 Kei Nishikori in the SF then fell to World #2 Roger Federer in the Final. In Melbourne, he fell to World #1 Novak Djokovic in the QF. Rotterdam saw him fall in the SF to World #8 Stan Wawrinka. While there was a Round of 16 hiccup in Marseille, falling to Simone Bolelli, he then lost a tough Davis Cup 5-setter to now World #4 Kei Nishikori.
At Indian Wells, the words of Mohammed Ali were imprinted on every match: “[Champions] have to have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.” The evidence? – Saving match points to score his first career win over Rafael Nadal in the QF: 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5. While he fell to Federer in the SF, week after week, Raonic is winning his way to battle the best, gaining important match experience against the top-players; massaging the skill, developing the will.
4. Lesia Tsurenko
What an accomplishment. For me, Lesia is the MVP of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open. Before Indian Wells, she’d played five events and only made it past the first rounds of Acapulco and Moterrey. Here, she played through qualifying, defeated Annika Beck in the 1R, upset World #9 Andrea Petkovic in the 2R, downed Alize Cornet in the 3R, and came-back to eliminate World #7 Genie Bouchard in the R16. After suffering an ankle injury against Bouchard, she simply wasn’t 100% against Jelena Jankovic in the QF and retired late in the second set. With two top-10 wins in just three days, Lesia ended the fortnight with a career-high ranking of #56 in the world.
3. Serena Williams returns to Indian Wells
2. Simona Halep – 3rd title of 2015
Okay. So Serena injured her knee during practice, leaving a well-rested Halep to face Jelena Jankovic in the Final. With the exception of the Tsurenko QF, all of Jelena’s matches had gone three-sets (Lauren Davis, Madison Keys, Belinda Bencic, Sabine Lisicki). Still, it was a remarkable comeback on Sunday to earn her third title of 2015, and it’s not even April yet! Aside from Fed Cup, in the four events she’s played this year, she’s won Shenzhen, Dubai and now Indian Wells. (Fell in the QF of the Australian Open to Ekaterina Makarova).
Simona’s road the Title:
FF def. Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4
SF def. Serena Williams walkover
QF def. Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7, 6-1, 6-1
4R def. Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4
3R def. Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
2R def. Daria Gavrilova 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
1. “Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer XXXVIII”
Six-years Roger’s junior, Novak Djokovic is closing the gap on the GOAT in their career head-to-head. After his win on Sunday, Novak has now won 18 of their 38 career meetings (19 if you count the walkover at the ATP World Tour Finals in November). Roger’s comeback in the second-set, down a break, was epic…it was a shame he couldn’t maintain his level of play in the third. Novak and Roger now each own four Indian Wells titles apiece. Novak heads to Miami as the defending champion, looking to hoist the trophy for the 5th time. Roger’s next event: Monte Carlo Masters.
Novak’s road to the Title:
FF def. Roger Federer 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2
SF def. Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3
QF def. Bernard Tomic walkover
4R def. John Isner 6-4, 7-6(5)
3R def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-3
2R def. Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 6-3
FULL RESULTS: Indian Wells 2015. Final Weekend.
ATP Singles Quarterfinals (Friday)
 R. Federer (SUI) d  T. Berdych (CZE) 64 60
 M. Raonic (CAN) d  R. Nadal (ESP) 46 76(10) 75 – longest match 178 min
ATP Singles Semifinals (Saturday)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  A. Murray (GBR) 62 63
 R. Federer (SUI) d  M. Raonic (CAN) 75 64
ATP Singles Final (Sunday)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  R. Federer (SUI) 63 67(5) 62
ATP Doubles Semifinals (Friday)
 V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) d M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) 64 36 10-6
ATP Doubles Final (Saturday)
 V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) d S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA) 64 67(3) 10-7
WTA Singles Semifinals (Friday)
 S. Halep (ROU) d  [WC] S. Williams (USA) walkover
 J. Jankovic (SRB) d  S. Lisicki (GER) 36 63 61
WTA Singles Final (Sunday)
 S. Halep (ROU) d  J. Jankovic (SRB) 26 75 64
WTA Doubles Final (Saturday)
 M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 63 64