Indian Wells Masters Gets Underway

Mar 11, 2009

The Indian Wells Masters is underway in sunny California, and it’s a tournament like this that just shows how times have changed. For starters, when this tournament took place last year Roger Federer was at the top of his game. Now he’s lost his No. 1 spot and has been out for a number of weeks with a back injury. He’s certainly impressive by anyone’s standards, but questions have been asked. You may have heard of a one ‘Rafael Nadal’ over this past year too; he has risen to take the World Number One spot from his sporting rival Federer in spectacular fashion, as well as winning a Grand Slam on a surface he has always found particularly tricky two months ago. And Andy Murray has shot to prominence as the new British Wonder, despite having a recent rocky patch with his health.  

On the girls side, it puts a smile to fan’s faces to see Maria Sharapova back. She has been out for a significant amount of time with a shoulder injury, missing the first Grand slam of the year (the Australian Open).

But disappointingly, not much has changed from one Indian Wells tournament to the next for Venus and Serena Williams. Since 2001, the sisters boycotted the tournament due to a clash with the crowd that the sisters and their father took to be racist. It all came about because of the fans anger over Venus pulling out of a match against her sister at the very last minute; the spectators were put-out and demanded a refund. At the same time Elena Dementieva was causing a stir by suggesting the William’s sisters matches were all fixed by their father Richard Williams.

It makes you wonder how long this can go on for. For the past few years women’s tennis has been dying a slow death in the eyes of the public; the men’s tournaments are by far the most popular to watch and the women’s falls significantly by the wayside. However justified the Williamses are, one can’t help but wish they would re-enter the tournament and help to inject a bit more life into things, even in a relatively unwatched tournament . When you compare the line up at Indian Wells to the men’s draw, there’s no contest as to which will get the most publicity and the most popularity. It’s a shame, but at the same time justified. It’s time a solution was found before people start to ignore the women’s draws completely.

It’s understandable that Indian Wells as a whole won’t draw the greatest popularity; amongst the mainstream media it’s usually only the Opens that get the best coverage. But seeing as the Indian Wells tournament is now branded a ‘Premier’ event (as of 2009, along with Miami, Madrid and Beijing) the top players must be there unless there is a valid excuse (be it an injury or an unfortunate clash with the crowds eight years ago). This is sure to generate some electricity around the tournament; some will drop out with newfound or persistent injuries, some will fail and others will rise to the occasion. It just depends who does what and how we see that translating to the next big Grand Slam: only 74 days to go until the players step onto the infamous clay courts of the French Open at Roland-Garros, and the excitement we saw in Australia starts all over again…  



-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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