By A. Balaji
Photos by S. Venturelli & L. Yunes
The past month has rung of excitement in the tennis world, as two of the most important ATP Masters 1000 was happening in the East and West American coasts. On top of being the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season, these two tournaments are known by the world as one of the most prestigious tour-level championships. Indian Wells Tennis Garden, California, is home to the third-largest tennis stadium in the world, while the Miami Open has been a favourite amongst fans and players for many years now. This year, undoubtedly was special in Indian Wells as Juan Martin Del Potro, US Open champion in 2009, triumphed against Roger Federer, current world's #1, in Indian Wells to win his first ever ATP Masters 1000 of his career and to maintain his best start of the season ever, a 15 streak win so far.
The BNP Paribas Open started off with full expectations of an exciting tournament. On one hand, there were the youngsters who had already dared the veterans: Zverev, Borna Coric, Denis Shapovalov were just a few of them, while the veterans hoped to use their experience to battle across to the finals. The highlight of this bunch was newly crowned number one, Roger Federer. He arrived at the tournament with a 12-0 streak, after winning the Australian Open and the Rotterdam Open. Undoubtedly, most of the odds were stacked on his triumph again due to his winning streak and the besides the fact that he is the best player in history. Besides this, Novak Djokovic had returned from the sidelines since his defeat at the pre-quarters in the Australian Open, to try and win this tournament for the 6th time. But there were lots of expectations about the major winners: Marin Cilic and Del Potro, who have both won the US Open. People simply couldn’t exclude them as potential candidates for all they have done in their career. As the tournament progressed the matches became more fierce as everyone wanted to reach that final. Overall this tournament was one that featured the entry of the new generation into the tennis world. The tournament gave birth to many young talents, not to mention Auger Aliassime who was the first player born in the 21st century, to feature in a Masters 1000 main draw. Hyeon Chung reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-finals, while Borna Coric reached the semi-finals as an unseeded player. But the real highlight of the tournament was the amazing and epic vintage final in Indian Wells.
Federer came into the final with his best start to a season, 17-0, while Del Potro came in with a triumph in Acapulco, Mexico. As Federer sought to defend the points won last year, the Argentinian attempted his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy. Federer had a smooth path to the final, losing only one set and looked to extend his winning streak. Del Potro on the other hand, had his work cut out in the initial stages but managed to win his 400th tour-level match in the semi-final to advance to his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. The game started off at an intense level with Delpo managing to defeat Federer at 3-2 and won the set 6-4. The real drama started off in the second set, when Delpo saved three Match points at 5-4, for Federer. The set went on to a tiebreak which could have gone one way or another. Federer saved a match point at 8-7 and in the end won the tiebreak and second set, taking the match to the deciding set. The last set was a true thriller, with both players playing to their best ability. The Argentinian with his powerful forehand strokes from the baseline, while Federer stuck to his fitness and class. Again, the last set ended up in a tie-break, after Delpo saved three match points at 5-4. At the tie-break, Federer seemed to have forgotten about the game, as he even commented about that after the match during the press conference, “... I think I would like to play that tie-break again because I don't know what the hell happened…”. The tie-break ended up with Delpo winning 6 - 2, to win his first ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
Overall, the BNP Paribas Open has been a fantastic tournament with an amazing display of tennis. It has allowed millions of fans to come and watch the spectacle of tennis and has increased its popularity tremendously. Although Roger’s defeat ends his streak it is easy to say that his performance this season proves that he has been the best player in the tour so far in 2018 with many more things to come in the future. This edition of the tournament has brought many memories to fans and viewers and this final could be well said as one of the best matches so far.