If you successfully predicted the final results from Indian Wells last week, you should really consider become a weather person because the entire planet could benefit from your clairvoyance. Use those skills for the good of humanity!
The 2021 BNP Paribas Open will likely be remembered as one of the most bizarre, stunning tournaments in recent memory with upsets galore and a pair of champions that precious few could have seen coming.
At least the tours settle down a bit this week so that everyone can recover and try to process what just happened. Here’s what you need to know this week:
With Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Juan Martin del Potro all absent from Indian Wells, there was going to be a new champion at the BNP Paribas Open.
But with a field that still included Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz, all of whom have previously won Masters 1000 titles, the final result in the California desert came as a surprise to pretty much everyone.
History was made this year in Indian Wells even before the trophy was handed out, as for the first time ever all four semi-finalists at a Masters 1000 event were ranked outside the top 25.
When the dust settled, it was Cameron Norrie of Great Britain bringing home the biggest title of his career with a three-set comeback win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Norrie took out a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov in the semis, who was coming off back-to-back upsets of Medvedev and Hurkacz. Basilashvili reached his biggest ever final by upsetting Tsitsipas before blowing past Taylor Fritz, who had upset Zverev.
As a result of the win, Norrie jumped 10 spots in the rankings into the Top 20 for the first time up to a new career-high of No. 16.
The women’s tournament was also wild, with only one Top 10 seed reaching the quarter-finals, that being No. 10 Angelique Kerber, and none reaching the semis.
In the end, it was 21 seed Paula Badosa who got her hands on the trophy, beating Victoria Azarenka in an epic three-set final where the Spaniard won a pair of tiebreaks, including in the third set, to claim the title.
It was just the second title of Badosa’s career, the first having come back in May. She is 2-0 in her career in finals.
Another little piece of history was made in Indian Wells, as with her run to the semi-finals, Ons Jabeur moved into the Top 10, becoming the first Arab player, male or female, to do so.
Bianca Andreescu’s title defence came to an end in the third round at the hands of the in-form Anett Kontaveit. Once again, Leylah Fernandez had the best Canadian singles result, reaching the fourth round where she lost a heartbreaker to Shelby Rogers in a third-set tiebreak.
Fernandez also had one of the best doubles results, reaching the quarter-finals with Coco Gauff. Denis Shapovalov matched her on the men’s side, reaching the last eight with Rohan Bopanna.
Shapovalov was eliminated from both singles and doubles by Aslan Karatsev.
The big event this week is the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow, a 500-level event on both tours. The fields are strong for both the men and women, with the host country leading the way.
On the men’s side, the top three seeds are all from Russia: Andrey Rublev, Karatsev, and Karen Khachanov. It would have been the top four had Daniil Medvedev not pulled out at the last minute. For the women, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the fourth seed.
The player to watch on the women’s side is top seed Aryna Sabalenka, who is making her return to the tour after her COVID-19 diagnosis in Indian Wells. Also competing on the women’s side are Maria Sakkari and Garbine Muguruza.
In other action elsewhere, world No. 6 Elina Svitolina will lead the field at the WTA 250 event in Tenerife, Spain. The other event on the men’s tour is the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium, whose field is led by Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman.
There are no Canadians in main tour action this week on either the ATP or WTA tours.
A pair of Canadians reached finals on the ITF tour last week.
At the Rancho Santa Fe Open, Rebecca Marino reached the doubles final, falling just short 10-6 in the third set super tiebreak.
Meanwhile, over in Ohio, Annabelle Xu led an impressive contingent on young Canadians and fought her way into the final, where she was beaten in straight sets. Xu was one of four Canadians competing, all of whom won their first-round matches. Xu and Mia Kupres were responsible for the two biggest upsets of the tournament, as they took out the top two seeds in the first round.
Even on the Challenger and ITF tours, this is a quiet for the Canadians. Marino is back in action at an ITF event in Macon, Georgia, alongside Francoise Abanda and Katherine Sebov.
As for the men, Alexis Galarneau is the lone Canadian competing in a Challenger event this week down in Bogota, Columbia.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.