Stand Out Players At Indian Wells 2021

After a two and a half year hiatus due to the pandemic, the BNP Paribas Open returned for an astonishing two weeks of tantalising tennis. 192 players descended upon the sandy desert in California to battle it out for Indian Wells glory, and the draw did not disappoint. 

Andy Murray was unearthed and shone on the dusty plains, while Grigor Dimitrov showcased some tennis of old as he caused a swing by downing No.1 seed in the tournament and US Open champion Daniel Medvedev. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas played some mesmerizing tennis over the two weeks and will take his learnings into next year’s Slams in the hope of capturing his maiden Grand Slam accolade. 

Cameron Norrie flourished as he was crowned the No.1 British seed while also emerging victorious capturing his second ATP tour title in California against Nikoloz Basilashvili. 

Victoria Azarenka also stepped up to the occasion proving why she should be trading with the very best in the women’s game. The Belarusian took her foot off the gas proving why she’s a denizen at Indian Wells by reaching the BNP Paribas Open final.

Cameron Norrie

Cameron Norrie has blossomed over the past year even surpassing Novak Djokovic in the 48 tour wins he’s remarkably accomplished. Norrie catapulted himself to the British No.1 spot after dispatching the venerable Diego Schwartzman adding to his list of impressive accolades in 2021.

The South African-born left-hander is riding a wave of momentum and has been a pleasure to watch over the last two weeks in the Palm Desert. The Brit’s first test at the often billed “Fifth Grand Slam” was in the form of Tennys Sandgren. Norrie brushed aside the American 6-4, 5-7, 6-0 to open his account at Indian Wells. 

Next was Roberto Bautista Agut, who the now British No.1 confidently pummeled 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Norrie’s next victim was the second American he faced of the tournament, Tommy Paul, who pushed the Brit to another third set, which Norrie won 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. 

The stars were aligning before Norrie saw his next opponent on paper, Diego Schwartzman, who’s ranked World No. 15. The Putney-based player ignored the figures and put the Argentine to the sword 6-0, 6-2, playing some of the best tennis of his career.

Norrie continued his tennis supremacy as he performed a dominant display against the in-form Grigor Dimitrov in their semi-final clash, drubbing the Bulgarian 6-2, 6-4. Finally came the test in Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Indian Wells final where he held strong and battled back from a set down to beat the Georgia native 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to make British history.

Grigor Dimitrov

We’ve seen a resurgence of Grigor Dimitrov as he’s honed his craft at an expert level at Indian Wells. The 30-year-old is enjoying an empathic comeback as he is showcasing how much talent he still has to give. The Bulgarian had been brushed aside and forgotten as many believed he was a ‘what could have been’ player, but he’s proved that there is still life in this old dog yet as he’s progressed through the tournament with unteachable finesse.

Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Dimitrov has blown away the cobwebs and downed a cohort of new-era players. In the space of 24 hours, he has beaten two of this year’s standout ATP performers, No. 2-ranked Daniil Medvedev and No. 12-ranked Hubert Hurkacz. In both wars of attrition, the man that was once ranked 3rd in the world, came from a set down and turned it on its head to emerge victoriously. 

Dimitrov’s fantastic run in Indian Wells was ended by the awe-inspiring Cameron Norrie, who had stamped his authority in their semi-final clash 6-2, 6-4. 

Andy Murray

It’s fair to say that Andy Murray has had a tough couple of years. The injuries that have plagued the Brit since 2017 put him on the verge of retirement and an emotional press conference before the 2019 Australian Open many considered the end for the former No.1 seed’s career. 

But the 34-year-old rallied and embarked on a road to redemption, putting in some wonderful performances that mirrored that of the Murray of old. It was in the heat of the Californian desert that Murray really raised some eyebrows, after putting in a herculean performance against some of the tour’s top tennis talent. 

First up was the challenge of Adrian Mannarino, who is renowned for being no pushover. Murray sunk the Frenchman 6-3, 6-2 in convincing fashion, sending a clear message that he had returned to the main stage. 

His next obstacle was that of Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz, who was riding a wave of momentum and tipped to be a future World No.1. The Spaniard had made a splash at the US Open finally admitting defeat to  F. Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals.

The 18-year-old was stunned by the way Murray came flying out of his corner,  winning the first three games with ease. Alcaraz dug deep and captured the first set at the death knell, after a thunderous comeback proving that age could prevail. 

Murray rallied after the teenager’s galvanising first-set performance dispatching the plucky Spaniard in the next two sets to get through to the next round against No.4 seed Zverev. Murray’s reign of terror came to an end at the hands of Zverev, who competently beat the Brit 6-4, 7-4 after surviving a scare in the opening set. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas has scratched the surface surrounding the talent he has in store for his adoring tennis acolytes. His 2021 tour year has been frustrating but the Greek shows the progress he’s making in the search for his inaugural Grand Slam. 

The 23-year-old made it to two milestones this year, he reached the semi-final of the 2021 Australian Open where a battle-hardened Daniil Medvedev, who stopped him 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 shortly after reaching the final of the 2021 French Open against an in-form No.1 seed Novak Djokovic, who bested him 6-7. 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.  

Even though the Greek fell at the final hurdles, he is making strides at such a young age and will want to emulate Medvedev’s accomplishments in 2021. 

Indian Wells is where the single-handed backhander has seen some success, winning in straight sets against Pedro Martinez 6-2, 6-2, bouncing back against Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and playing a brutal three-set lung buster with Alex de Minaur, where he prevailed 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. 

But it wasn’t to be for the Greek, as Nikoloz Basilashvili battled past the No.3 seed 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to progress to a first Masters 1000 semi-final of his career.  

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka’s Indian Wells run has been phenomenal, the former No.1 seed has returned to the win column after punching in some convincing wins in the dusty plains of California. Her first test was against Magda Linette in the third round, where the two-time Indian Wells winner picked apart her Polish counterpart 7-5, 3-0 before finally admitting defeat forcing the contest to a walkover. 

Next up was ​​Petra Kvitová. The Belarusian former No.1 has a long rivalry with the Czech tennis player and in the latest chapter of the feud that dates back 13 years, Victoria Azarenka got the better of  ​​Petra Kvitová in the heat of California, sinking her 7-5, 6-4. 

Azarenka went on to down Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4, shortly afterwards putting American Jessica Pegula to the sword 6-4, 6-2. The 32-year-old’s biggest test was that of Jeļena Ostapenko, who was riding a wave of momentum in California. 

Azarenka battled back from behind to out-play and out-solve the dangerous ball striker. It was all Ostapenko in the first frame, unleashing some thunderous winners past the former No.1, but it was not to be for the Latvian as Azarenka dissected the match and dispatched Ostapenko 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to book her a spot in the final. 

Paula Badosa

Paula Badosa plied her trade at an expert level in the Californian desert showcasing some tantalising tennis over the two week period finally proving she’s the best in the business by bathing in Indian Wells glory

The Spaniard’s first test was against Dayana Yastremska where she put in a herculean performance to win 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. 

Next up was the test of the young prospect Coco Gauff, who was hoping to progress through the tournament after Sloane Stephens defeated the young American in the third round at the US Open, It was not to be for Gauff as Badosa picked apart the 17-year-old 6-2, 6-2. 

Badosa next battled her way past Barbora Krejčíková 6-1, 7-5 to book herself a spot in the quarter-finals. Angelique Kerber pushed the Spaniard but Badosa held strong dispatching the German 6-4, 7-5 in the last 12. 

Ons Jabeur was the obstacle the 2015 French Open winner had to get past to reach the fabled Indian Wells final and she did in emphatic fashion as she punished the Tunisian 6-3, 6-3 to book herself a blockbuster bout with the former Indian Wells winner.

Badosa crowned herself queen of the desert after Victoria Azarenka pushed her to the very limit in a tie break final set where the Spaniard emerged victoriously 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.