The field is dwindling at this year’s BNP Paribas Open, with top seeded players filing through the turnstiles at LAX at an alarming pace. Only Women’s doubles features a #1 seed still alive in the desert draws, and Rafael Nadal is the only #2 seed remaining.
This leaves the door open for plenty of talented players to make a splash early in 2019, from fan favorite Gael Monfils to Canadian wild card Bianca Andreescu. Perhaps the biggest challenge in the next four days is to remain healthy – the virus that derailed Serena Williams is making its way through the player’s lounge and may well prove the most unbeatable force at Indian Wells this week.
#TeamSoCal suffered its final defeat on Wednesday, as the team of Kaitlyn Christian & Asia Muhammad (above) fell in straight sets to the team of Mertens/Sabalenka in routine fashion. Christina & Muhammad squandered five of their eight break chances in the match, while their opponents converted three of four. The second week may have been a sleeper for #TeamSoCal, losing momentum after having received a walkover and four days in practice mode before Wednesday’s match.
Former USC All American Robert Farah, a #5 seed in doubles, was also eliminated on Wednesday. Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal won the first set 6-3 but lost the second and the deciding tiebreak, knocking the #5 seeds out of the tournament. With their best success on clay, they will undoubtedly look ahead to the French Open for another extended run in doubles action.
All eyes now turn to Venus Williams, who returns to court tonight against #8 Angelique Kerber, and the prospect of a Nadal vs. Federer semifinal – a rare commodity these days, and one that will surely pack Stadium 1 to the rim should the two legends meet yet again.
Later this week, the Oracle Collegiate tournament will feature USC Trojan men and women, and #TeamSoCal looks to rebound in the Tri-Level Championships at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.