The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was ignited on day three of the tournament as fans were treated to some thrilling contests. The event, held at Indian Wells in the Californian desert, is one of the biggest on the tennis tour for both men and women in terms of prize money and ranking points. Some pundits even call it the fifth slam. It certainly lived up to that nickname yesterday.
The first match to get the tennis center buzzing was between Lukas Rosol and Andy Murray. Rosol is famous, or infamous in the eyes of Nadal fans, for knocking out the Spaniard in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012. Since then, Rosol has struggled on the tour but he has popped up now and then to rattle the top dogs. It was Murray’s turn yesterday. Murray, on the comeback from back surgery late last year, was certainly ripe to be rattled, too. The Scot has had disappointing results thus far in 2014 and it looked like things might continue that way as Rosol took the first set 6-4 and then led by a break in the second. Murray, though, got down to work, got more balls back in the court than Rosol and took the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. It was, incidentally, Murray’s 300th career win on hard courts, a stat that looks ominous for the rest of the competition. The manner of the Scot’s comeback against Rosol showed he may be rusty but he is ready to compete, and there are fewer better competitors on the tour than Murray.
Indian Wells was ignited later on again on day three, this time by defending champion Nadal, maybe the greatest competitor of them all. Perhaps haunted somewhat by Rosol’s name going around the stadium, the Spaniard, like Murray also hampered by injury woes, dropped the first set to Radek Stepanek 2-6. Nadal then had to fight his way to take the second and third sets 6-4, 7-5. The Spaniard, also pushed to the limit a couple of weeks back in Rio by Andujar, had to fight off 3 break points down 2-3 in the third. For Nadal, fighting back is a challenge he welcomes, but how much he will have welcomed the 2 hour 24 minute battle in the desert heat is up for debate. Especially seeing as old foe Murray, who he has not met in a competitive match since 2011, is drawn in his quarter.
Meanwhile, lesser known players also set the tournament alight. Alejandro. Falla knocked out Jerzy Janowicz 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, while Milos Raonic edged Edouard Roger Vasselin 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. And it was not just the men who were heating things up in Indian Wells. Sabine Lisicki, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up and currently coached by Martina Hingis, battled with Canada’s Alexsandra Wozniak all the way to a third set breaker. The Canadian came through, taking the match 7-5, 1-6, 7-6.
With Indian Wells being ignited on day three of the tournament, tennis fans will wait with great anticipation to see what thrilling matches await them the rest of the week. If they are anything like the ones witnessed so far, then the title of the fifth slam will be one well-earned.
Commentary by Christian Deverille