These players impressed everyone with their performances in the tournament.
The Indian Wells Masters has reached its final stages. The tournament which is played at the Indian Wells tennis garden has returned after a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then the contest had to be rescheduled from its usual March fixture to the fall season in October.
This is the 47th edition of the men’s tournament. Dominic Thiem is the defending champion, but was unable to defend his title because of a wrist injury he suffered at the Mallorca Championships. Despite missing out on Thiem’s star power, there were still some big names who participated. The likes of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov have added the glamour this time around.
This tournament is played on outdoor hard courts and has a rich legacy. Moreover, it is one of the best-attended tennis events after the Grand Slams. So rich is its brand value that it is often called the “fifth Grand Slam.” Therefore, it is no surprise that it has had the pleasure of hosting some big names on its hallowed courts.
Let’s take a look at some of those big names who have left their indelible marks in this particular tournament.
5. Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors is a three-time Indian Wells title holder. The fiery American won his first in the year 1976, when he defeated compatriot Roscoe Tanner in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. He followed it up in 1981 with a victory over his rival Ivan Lendl. However, his most competitive match in the tournament came against Frenchman Yannick Noah.
The 1984 edition of the tournament saw Connors and Noah pushing each other to their limits. Connors took the first set, while Noah took the second in a thrilling tiebreaker. Finally, it was Connors who wrapped it up in the final set 6-2,6-7, 6-3 to win the match.
4. Michael Chang
Michael Chang won his first Indian Wells title in the year 1992. The former French Open champion defeated Andrei Chesnokov in straight sets to claim his first Indian Wells crown. His second one came in 1996, when he defeated Dutchman Paul Haarhuis. The American won easily in straight sets 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 in a match of five sets to add another title to his name.
He repeated the same feat the following year in 1997 to win two consecutive titles. This time his opponent was the Czech Bohdan Ulihrach. Although Chang dropped the first set, he redeemed himself to win the following three and complete a hat-trick of titles. The final scoreline read 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in favour of Chang.
3. Rafael Nadal
Multi-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal dominated the hard courts of California for a while. The Spaniard is a three-time champion as well and has been through some stiff competition to earn his crowns. Nadal has had to go through the likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro for his titles.
Though Nadal’s first two victories in the finals against Murray and Djokovic came in straight sets, the one against Del Potro went to a decider. The Argentine had landed the first blow by taking the opener. But, the Spaniard came back hard and took the remaining two. The final result read 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 for Rafa.
2. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is a record five-time Indian Wells champion. The 20-time singles Grand Slam winner won his first title here in 2008 after defeating veteran Mardy Fish in 2008. The match was of three sets and saw the Djoker winning it by 6-2,5-7,6-3. His next victory came in 2011 over his rival Rafa Nadal.
He then went onto win three consecutive titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, that too against heavyweight opponents like Roger Federer (twice) and Milos Raonic. Though the Swiss gave stern competition it was the Serb who came out on top. The victories demonstrated his consistency at the finals, taking his Indian Wells final record to 5-1. His only loss came in 2007 at the hands of Rafael Nadal.
1. Roger Federer
No player has enjoyed as much success at the tournament as Roger Federer. The Swiss holds multiple records in the competition. Ranging from most matches played at 79 to most matches won at 66. He jointly shares the most number of titles won with Djokovic at five. Moreover, he also holds the record for the most number of appearances in the final at nine.
Federer opened his Indian Wells account with a victory over Tim Henman in 2004 and made a hat-trick of titles within the following two years. Though there was a drought of title wins in the middle years, he bounced back to win another in 2012. His opponent was the American John Isner, with the victory coming in straight sets 7-6, 6-3.
The last of his title victories came in 2017 against fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka. It was another straight sets victory at 6-4,7-5. Although the tennis superstar did make it to back-to-back finals in 2018 and 2019, he was not successful in his exploits.