The field at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells reads like a major tournament.
Household names like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Serena Williams will all eventually lace it up in this tournament, but Thursday’s first round came before the real action. With that in mind, here is a look at the scores and more from the first round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Scores and Schedule Information
|2015 BNP Paribas Open|
|Men's Singles||Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Viktor Troicki||6-4, 6-4|
|Men's Singles||Jurgen Melzer over Dennis Novikov||6-4, 6-4|
|Men's Singles||Federico Delbonis over Dusan Lajovic||6-4, 6-3|
|Men's Singles||Juan Monaco over Teymuraz Gabashvili||6-2, 3-6, 6-3|
|Men's Singles||Thanasi Kokkinakis over Jan-Lennard Struff||7-6, 6-3|
|Men's Singles||Ivan Dodig over Joao Sousa||6-3, 7-5|
|Men's Singles||Vasek Pospisil over Mikhail Kukushkin||6-4, retirement|
|Men's Singles||Tim Smyczek over Benjamin Becker||6-3, 7-6|
|Men's Singles||Adrian Mannarino over Mischa Zverev||6-4, 6-4|
|Men's Singles||Daniel Gimeno-Traver over Sam Groth||7-6, 7-6|
|Men's Singles||Edouard Roger-Vasselin over Marinko Matosevic||7-5, 4-6, 6-3|
|Men's Singles||Jarkko Nieminen over Thiemo De Bakker||7-6, 6-4|
|Men's Singles||James Duckworth over Dominic Thiem||7-6, 6-1|
|Men's Singles||Ryan Harrison over Mardy Fish||6-4, 4-6, 7-6|
|Women's Singles||Lucie Hradecka over Jana Cepelova||6-3, 6-1|
|Women's Singles||Sesil Karatantcheva over Tsvetana Pironkova||7-5, 6-1|
|Women's Singles||Lesia Tsurenko over Annika Beck||6-1, 6-3|
|Women's Singles||Christina McHale over Petra Cetkovska||6-4, 7-5|
|Women's Singles||Klara Koukalova over Daniela Hantuchova||6-4, 1-6, 6-3|
|Women's Singles||Lauren Davis over Anna Schmiedlova||6-2, 6-2|
|Women's Singles||Bojana Jovanovski over Kiki Bertens||6-3, 6-4|
|Women's Singles||Ons Jabeur over Kaia Kanepi||7-5, 6-2|
|Women's Singles||Yulia Putintseva over Tereza Smitkova||6-4, 6-4|
|Women's Singles||Polona Hercog over Vera Zvonareva||6-1, 6-1|
|Women's Singles||Roberta Vinci over Jarmila Gajdosova||4-6, 6-1, 6-2|
|Women's Singles||Lin Zhu over Francesca Schiavone||0-6, 6-3, 6-3|
|Women's Singles||Madison Brengle over Saisai Zheng||6-3, 6-0|
|Women's Singles||Kirsten Flipkens over Shelby Rogers||6-2, 6-4|
|Women's Singles||Yanina Wickmayer over Karin Knapp||6-1, 7-5|
Friday Match to Watch: Serena Williams vs. Monica Niculescu
It is a marquee event anytime Serena Williams takes the tennis court, whether it is the final at Wimbledon or the first round at the BNP Paribas Open. However, there is an extra layer of intrigue surrounding Friday’s match against Monica Niculescu.
Beth Harris of The Associated Press (h/t Yahoo Sports) pointed out why that is the case:
“Serena Williams returned to the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday, ending a 14-year personal boycott of the $5 million tournament that began when she was booed as a teenager on her way to winning the title in 2001.”
Williams was booed at her first-ever Paribas Open in the finals against Kim Clijsters after her sister Venus withdrew from the match hours before the final started. At the time, Williams said she would never return to the tournament, and she will break her 14-year absence on Friday.
Williams discussed her return to Indian Wells, via Harris: "I was a little nervous to come out here. In the beginning, I was like, 'What was I thinking?' I kind of had to overcome that hurdle."
Former tennis great Billie Jean King certainly seemed pleased with Williams' decision:
While the main storyline will be Williams’ return to this venue, she also has to shake off some rust before the WTA schedule really heats up. She won the Australian Open in January but has only played in one Fed Cup match since. This will be her first WTA Tour event since January.
Rust may be the only chance for the rest of the field because she steamrolled her way through the competition in Australia. She knocked off Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the finals, 6-3, 7-6 (5), and only lost two sets in the entire tournament. She looked like the dominant champion she has been throughout her career, and a repeat performance would be trouble for her competitors in Indian Wells.
Interestingly, Williams has never faced Niculescu. Niculescu beat Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets to get to the Williams match and won 70 percent of her first-service points. The only chance she has against Williams is to control the match with her serves, which is much easier said than done against the world’s best.
There is also something to be said for catching Williams off guard since they have never played before. What’s more, Williams will likely have more than tennis on her mind given the circumstances around this match.
Still, Williams is the top-ranked player for a reason. She has 19 Grand Slam single titles on her resume and is the No. 1 player in the world. It may take her a couple of games in the first set to settle into a groove, but talent will eventually prevail.
Prediction: Williams in straight sets.