WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL
Martina Hingis has been winning matches on these Indian Wells Tennis Garden courts since the ‘90s. She teamed up with fellow Spice Girl Anna Kournikova to claim the BNP Paribas Open doubles title back in 1999, and returned to win it again with Sania Mirza in 2015. At 36, the Swiss Miss is a timeless competitor.
On Day 13, No. 6 seeds Hingis/Chan Yung-Jan will play for the 2017 title when they face the unseeded Czech pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.
Hradecka/Siniakova reached the Taipei City final in February, losing to Chan and her sister, Chan Hao-Ching.
MEN’S DOUBLES FINAL
American Rajeev Ram and South African Raven Klaasen, who last year reached the title tilt at the ATP Finals, as well as the Wimbledon semis, meet Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the men’s doubles final. There’s a ton of talent here, led by the altitudinous 6-foot-8 Brazilian Melo, aka “Girafa,” who spent 26 weeks at No. 1 between November 2015 and June 2016, the first No. 1 other than Bob or Mike Bryan since 2008.
Eighteen of the Top 25 singles players in the Emirates ATP Rankings were in the Indian Wells doubles draw — Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro included. Incredibly, none survived to reach the semis.
CATCH THE FED EXPRESS
At 35, Roger Federer has a lot of miles on his body. So the Swiss superstar will surely benefit from an extra day’s rest, which he was treated to when Nick Kyrgios withdrew from their 'Group of Death' quarterfinal due to illness. As he said earlier this week after his straight-sets dismissal of longtime rival Rafa Nadal, “Every step more you take on court has an effect down the road.”
Two months removed from his record 18th Grand Slam title, you’d never know he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and sat out the second half of 2016. He’s saved the only break point he faced in his first three matches, and is striking his backhand with such authority that even Nadal could only shake his head.
On Saturday in Stadium 1, The Raj will take on the top-ranked American Jack Sock, who may just possess the best forehand in the game. Federer’s a spotless 2-0 against the World No. 18, including a win here at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden two years ago. Sock has much respect for the man he calls “the best to ever play,” but he’ll be looking to make the most of his opportunity: his first appearance in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal.
STAN AND DELIVER
Though he’s now won three of four Grand Slams, Stan Wawrinka somehow gets shortchanged when folks discuss the Big Four of Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Murray. To be fair, it should be the Fab Five. But the World No. 3 is accustomed to being overlooked. It comes part of parcel with being your country’s second best player when the top guy is a certain Mr. Federer.
“I always try to look at the positives,” said Wawrinka of existing in his fellow Swiss’ shadow. “Growing up, [it was] always Roger. Being behind him, it was great to me — best player ever, No. 1. We’ve shared some amazing moments at Davis Cup, Olympics, in practice. So it’s helped me a lot to make me the player I am now. At the end of the day, I enjoy what I'm doing. I'm really happy with my career. I won three Grand Slams in the past three years. I think it's more than what I could have expected.”
Stan the Man has never lost to his next opponent, Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta (he’s 2-0 in head-to-heads), who’s into the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal of his career.
The BNP Paribas Open Tri-Level Championships — a doubles competition representing 17 different United States Tennis Association (USTA) sections from around the country — continues through Sunday. Members of the winning section will win a Fila product package, the official sportswear company of the BNP Paribas Open.