Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open saw the triumphant return of Juan Martin del Potro, and the beloved wild card completely dismantled American qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-0. Because of the wrist injury and lengthy recovery, Delpo hasn’t been back to Indian Wells since reaching the Final with Rafael Nadal in 2013.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 11, 2016
Genie Bouchard overcame herself on Thursday, toughing-out a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over qualifier Risa Ozaki from Japan (World #125). Genie has reached the Round of 16 for the past two years, but that was before September’s concussion in Flushing Meadows. Though her first round match didn’t show it, she comes into Indian Wells with momentum after reaching the Final in Kuala Lumpur.
Bouchard: "At times I felt like my tennis was awful out there. But I just tried to put that aside and keep trying to play.”
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 11, 2016
And then there’s 18-year-old American Francis Tiafoe. The wild card drew his buddy and fellow wild-card Taylor Fritz in the first-round, and the two went the distance on Stadium-1 – with Tiafoe finishing on-top 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Francis after the match: “You never make the moment as big as it seems. You treat it like another match. We play in Carson, where we train, all the time. I thought it would be just like that. Obviously, it’s Indian Wells and you’re playing on the second-biggest court in tennis, but you just want to stay in between the lines and just go from point to point.” And that he did.
Tiafoe on who he most admires: Del Potro. He's the ideal player, and a really nice guy.
— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) March 11, 2016
Code name: "Big Foe on the come Up." Nice. pic.twitter.com/mIb4hNsK8t
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) March 11, 2016
In doubles, Thursday’s major upset came from Julia Georges and Karolina Pliskova – who eliminated the #7-seeds, Olympic hopefuls and last year’s finalists at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Carla Suarez Navarro and Garbine Muguruza, 6-4, 6-2. Huge.
Stadium-2 didn’t have any epic marquee matchups, but we saw our share of tantalizing tennis on Thursday – including two of the tournaments longest matches and an enticing throwdown between Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic vs. the #2-seeds Yung-Jan Chan and Hao-Ching Chan.
INIGO CERVANTES. Round-1.
First-up on Stadium-2: Two-plus hours with the Spaniards Inigo Cervantes and Nicolas Almagro. After scoring the first break to go up 6-5, Almagro closed out the opening set with 3 consecutive aces. Cervantes would force a decider with a break mid-way through the second, then benefit from a sloppy service game from Almagro to start the third. Being such a tight match, dropping serve to start the third was beyond frustrating, and Almagro delivered an epic racquet smash to release the tension (see below). It didn’t help matters…Cervantes held-on to serve out the match and reach the second-round in his Indian Wells debut.
5-7, 6-3, 6-4
NEXT UP: Milos Raonic. This is Raonic’s first event since his Semifinal run Melbourne. He’s been recovering from a slightly torn abductor muscle since the Australian Open. Milos is also playing doubles here in the desert – teaming with John Isner. The two start their campaign together Friday on Stadium-2 vs. Andy Murray and Colin Fleming.
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) March 10, 2016
Stadium-2. Honestly best match here so far. Inigo Cervantes def Nico Almagro 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. EPIC racquet smash from Nico in 3rd.#BNPPO16
— Andy Taylor (@StadiumAndy) March 10, 2016
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) March 10, 2016
GUIDO PELLA. Round-1.
Stadium-2’s second match on Thursday lasted even longer than the first. Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund closed out the first in a tie-break, but Guido Pella would break late in the second and confidently force the decider on an ace. In set-3, up 5-3, Edmund served for the match, but couldn’t close. Pella broke right back then won the remaining three games to reach the second round at Indian Wells for the first time.
6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5
NEXT UP: A rematch of last month’s Rio Open Final, where Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas defeated Pella 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4. We’ll see if the change of surface makes a difference for the Argentine.
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) March 11, 2016
ANNIKA BECK. Round-1.
Phoenix’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands couldn’t put together a winning a combination against Germany’s Annika Beck on Thursday. She threw the kitchen-sink at the match, but even drop-shots were falling short. Beck won easliy in just over an hour. It was certainly a nice surprise for Annika…She needed three tough sets, including a first-set tie-break, to take down Bethanie in Florianopolis last year.
NEXT UP: World #14 Elina Svitolina, who comes into Indian Wells after winning her fourth career title in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. Beck fell to Svitolina in three-sets last year at Roland Garros.
— Prince (@Prince_Tennis) January 23, 2016
YUNG-JAN CHAN and HAO-CHING CHAN. Round-1.
This was fun. Hell of a match, too – with two clutch late-set breaks from the Chan sisters to reach the second round. This is why Yung-Jan Chan and Hao-Ching Chan are #2 on the Road to Singapore. Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic battled, breaking twice to start the second, but Yung and Hao responded with breaks of their own – then broke Petkovic again to go up 5-3. Yung served out the win at love.
Here’s the truth – Yung and Hao have never played Indian Wells together. Yung was a finalist here in 2007 and a semifinalist in 2010. Hao fell in the first round last year with partner Jelena Jankovic. This year, they haven’t lost a match since January. They’re now 9-0 since the Australian Open with two titles (Kaohsiung and Doha), and don’t show any signs of slowing down. OH…and just how compassionate and cool are the Chans? Check the tweet below…
— 詹詠然～YungJan Chan (@YungJan_Chan) February 16, 2016
ALBERT RAMOS-VINOLAS. Round-1.
19-year-old Hyeon Chung is one of the ATP World Tour’s rising stars. On Thursday, he was reminded of the mental toughness it takes to compete at the top-level. After quickly capturing the first-set 6-2, Chung’s focus took a vacation and Albert Ramos-Vinolas pounced. Ramos-Vinolas won seven consecutive games, broke midway through the third, and served-out the match.
2-6, 6-0, 6-3
NEXT UP: Nick Kyrgios, who comes into Indian Wells after pissing off Davis Cup teammate Bernard Tomic. Kyrios said he was too sick to play in the Tie versus the U.S. at Kooyong. Tomic, while losing to Isner in the deciding rubber, alleged Nick was faking illness to rest and prepare for Indian Wells. Oh the drama. Anyway, Nick had a productive February, earning his first title in Marseilles and reaching the semifinals in Dubai. He and Ramos-Vinolas played twice last year. Two marathon matches won by Kyrgios – Estoril 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3 and Tokyo 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(3).
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) March 11, 2016
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Four. Round-1 WTA Singles.
- [WC] L. Davis (USA) d N. Hibino (JPN) 62 64
- M. Rybarikova (SVK) d L. Robson (GBR) 76(3) 62
- A. Beck (GER) d B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 62 62
- M. Gasparyan (RUS) d O. Govortsova (BLR) 61 63
- Z. Diyas (KAZ) d [WC] J. Loeb (USA) 61 64
- [WC] S. Zhang (CHN) d [Q] P. Parmentier (FRA) 76(5) 00 Retired
- Y. Wickmayer (BEL) d P. Hercog (SLO) 06 64 64
- C. Mchale (USA) d C. Garcia (FRA) 64 64
- D. Kasatkina (RUS) d [WC] D. Hantuchova (SVK) 62 64
- M. Puig (PUR) d M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 61 62
- E. Bouchard (CAN) d [Q] R. Ozaki (JPN) 26 64 62
- T. Pironkova (BUL) d [Q] D. Vekic (CRO) 62 75
- C. Giorgi (ITA) d J. Goerges (GER) 63 62
- [WC] S. Rogers (USA) d M. Duque-Mariño (COL) 61 46 63
- M. Brengle (USA) d M. Doi (JPN) 61 75
- D. Allertova (CZE) d P. Cetkovska (CZE) 60 61
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Four. Round-1 WTA Doubles.
-  H. Chan / Y. Chan d [WC] A. Kerber / A. Petkovic 64 63
-  T. Babos / Y. Shvedova d D. Jurak / L. Siegemund 64 62
-  A. Hlavackova / L. Hradecka d [WC] K. Flipkens / A. Ivanovic 62 62
- J. Goerges / K. Pliskova d  G. Muguruza / C. Suárez Navarro 64 62
-  R. Atawo / A. Spears d [PR] V. Dushevina / K. Siniakova 63 64
- [PR] V. King / A. Kudryavtseva d A. Groenefeld / B. Strycova 46 63 10-5
- S. Errani / O. Kalashnikova d [PR] S. Hsieh / S. Peng 60 62
- K. Bertens / J. Larsson d [WC] S. Kuznetsova / A. Pavlyuchenkova 62 64
- Y. Xu / S. Zheng d K. Jans-Ignacik / A. Rosolska 75 76(1)
- [WC] D. Allertova / P. Kvitova d I. Begu / I. Olaru 62 76(5)
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Four. Round-1 ATP Singles.
- N. Mahut (FRA) d [Q] R. Olivo (ARG) 62 64
- R. Haase (NED) d D. Schwartzman (ARG) 63 64
- L. Mayer (ARG) d S. Groth (AUS) 64 63
- [Q] R. Harrison (USA) d D. Lajovic (SRB) 63 76(3)
- [WC] F. Tiafoe (USA) d [WC] T. Fritz (USA) 63 26 63
- G. Pella (ARG) d K. Edmund (GBR) 67(3) 64 75
- A. Kuznetsov (RUS) d [Q] M. Trungelliti (ARG) 64 64
- I. Marchenko (UKR) d [PR] D. Tursunov (RUS) 75 76(6)
- [WC] J. Del Potro (ARG) d [Q] T. Smyczek (USA) 64 60
- B. Coric (CRO) d L. Pouille (FRA) 62 75
- R. Ram (USA) d [Q] N. Rubin (USA) 76(3) 76(2)
- I. Cervantes (ESP) d N. Almagro (ESP) 57 63 64
- P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d E. Donskoy (RUS) 63 64
- A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d H. Chung (KOR) 26 60 63
- F. Delbonis (ARG) d S. Giraldo (COL) 63 76(5)
- M. Granollers (ESP) d D. Dzumhur (BIH) 61 60