The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells may be missing the World No 1 Ash Barty next week, but it is gaining Emma Raducanu as a star attraction in the main draw after the 18-year old accepted a wild-card to compete there, her first event since her stunning US Open victory.
The BNP Paribas Open is one of my favourite events on the calendar. It was a tough decision to withdraw but I know a few weeks of rest and seeing family back in Australia is the right thing for me at this point of the season. I wish the tournament and the WTA all the best for a successful event and hope I’ll be back in Palm Springs in 2022. Ash Barty
Since her historic win in New York, where she came through 3 rounds of qualifying and 7 main draw matches without dropping a set, Raducanu has rocketed up the rankings, from No 150 to 22.
Although the Brit’s ranking now assures her direct entry into tournaments, the cut-off for Indian Wells was before Raducanu’s meteoric rise, meaning the teenager needed a wild-card to avoid having to go through qualifying.
Incredibly, Indian Wells will be just Raducanu’s 5th WTA Tour event of her career.
She made her debut at this level in June at the WTA 250 event in Nottingham before making the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, her first major, and then transitioning to the hard-courts where she reached the final of the WTA 125 event in Chicago, and reeling off 20 straight sets in New York.
While Raducanu has said she is not chasing qualification for the end-of-season WTA Finals, she has a real chance of doing so if she can produce a good run at the WTA 1000 event next week, and she has also entered the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and the Transylvania Open in Romania later in October where more Porsche Race points are up for grabs.
Raducanu, who attended the premiere of the James Bond film No Time To Die on Tuesday evening, currently sits 14th in the race to reach the event in Guadalajara, needing to make up nearly 400 points to make it into the elite top 8.
This year’s edition of Indian Wells will not include the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champions after both Barty and Naomi Osaka confirmed their withdrawals, the Australian because of a change of schedule and the Japanese extending her period away from the game.
“The BNP Paribas Open is one of my favourite events on the calendar,” Barty said in a statement. “It was a tough decision to withdraw but I know a few weeks of rest and seeing family back in Australia is the right thing for me at this point of the season.
“I wish the tournament and the WTA all the best for a successful event and hope I’ll be back in Palm Springs in 2022.”
The Wimbledon Champion has returned to Australia without committing to defend her title at the lucrative season-ending WTA Finals in November after Barty’s coach indicated she was fatigued after being away for more than 6 months.
The chances of the 25-year-old doing so are slim as Barty would need to endure a stint in quarantine each time she returns to Australia.
“Ash has withdrawn from Indian Wells to come home and see her family in Australia,” Barty’s manager Nikki Mathias said in a statement.
“She has been away from home since March and with the two week hotel quarantine requirement to come into Australia it has not been possible for her to return home before now.
“No further decisions have been made on events after Indian Wells yet.”
The WTA Finals will be played in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, sitting at an altitude of 1566 metres, from 10-17 November, while the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly the Fed Cup, finals are set for 6 days in Prague at the start of November.
The event at Indian Wells in California, which begins next Wednesday and is one of the biggest on the WTA Tour, is normally held in March but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a combined women’s and men’s competition and one of the premier tournaments on the schedule outside of the four Grand Slams, with 1000 ranking points on offer to the winner.
The 32nd edition of the women’s event, which takes place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, is played on outdoor hard-courts and is the best-attended tennis tournament outside of the majors, with the second-largest permanent tennis stadium in the world, after the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
Following the 2013 edition, an expansion facilitated the building of a new 8,000 seat Stadium 2.
Famously, the Williams sisters boycotted the tournament between 2001 and 2014, despite threats of ranking penalties and financial sanctions and, although they both have played the event in more recent times, neither are likely to feature this year, Serena already having indicated her absence.
Defending champion Bianca Andreescu defeated Angelique Kerber in the last edition of the competition and will be in the main draw play for the BNP Paribas Open, which begins on Wednesday 6 October and can be watched live on Amazon Prime in the UK.