I had not planned on attending the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California this year. However, it's so close to where I live in Arizona, it's arguably one of the most fun tournaments, and my friend Misty wanted to go, so off we went!
Day One: Eisenhower Cup, Qualifying, & Shopping
We visited on the front end of the tournament. We arrived on the first Tuesday, which was qualifying rounds. We watched some qualifying matches, walked through the shops, and had some delicious champagne cocktails. It was so nice to be able to walk around the grounds without it being too crowded.
Our first priority was to sample all of the the cocktails. Just kidding, it wasn't our first priority, but we did. Maestro Dobel Tequila created a few signature cocktails for the tournament. The Ace Paloma was my favorite, and came with a cute tennis ball cocktail stick.
The first match we watched was Aranxta Rus vs. Sara Errani. This was Aranxta's second qualifying match. She has the most beautiful legs I've ever seen! She's from the Netherlands, is almost six feet tall, and was so lovely to watch.
Next, we watched Tennys Sandgren vs. Rinky Hijikata. We decided that Rinky is such a fun name! Plus, he played great and got the win.
We had tickets for The Eisenhower Cup, a mixed doubles charity event presented by Tie Break Tens. We got to see so many of our favorite players all in one place, having fun, being silly, and of course, still playing great tennis!
These were the doubles pairings:
Maria Sakkari & Stefanos Tsitsipas
Paula Badosa & Cameron Norrie
Iga Swiatek & Hubert Hurkacz
Leylah Fernandez & Felix Auger-Aliassime
Ons Jabeur & Casper Ruud
Jessica Pegula & Tommy Paul
Aryna Sabalenka & Taylor Fritz
Belinda Bencic & Stan Wawrinka
The best part was when Taylor Fritz fired a hot forehand at the world number one women's tennis player- Iga Swiatek, and didn't seem to care. I thought it was funny, the crowd did not like it.
Day Two: Qualifying Tennis, Great Tennis, Boring Tennis, & Freezing Cold
We started the day watching French player Alizé Cornet, who is so fun! She's sassy and owns her reputation as a bit of a drama queen. I met famous chair umpire Kader Nouni- the Barry White of tennis, which was such an awesome experience! We watched John Isner vs. Brandon Nakashima in the main stadium. It was literally like watching paint dry. The big servers are just not fun to watch. If the rally went longer than 8 shots, Isner didn't even try to get it. He just let it go, served an ace, and moved on. Blah! We left after the first set.
Thankfully, the practice courts were stacked! We caught Casper Ruud, Matteo Berrettini, Asia Muhammad, Maria Sakkari, and Coco Gauff on the practice courts. We watched Camila Georgi vs Aranxta Rus. Again, the legs. Between Camila and Aranxta, these are two of the most beautiful bodies on the tour.
We didn't plan too well for the evening cool down. When the sun goes down and the winds kick up, it gets very chilly at night. We headed back to the hotel for dinner and drinks at the bar, and ended the night with wine by the fire.
Misty said to me,
"I can see how this can be addicting."
Absolutely! We were supposed to go home on Thursday, but decided to extend our stay and drive home on Friday instead. We couldn't help ourselves!
Day Three: Great Tennis, The Tennis Podcast Crew, & Nobu
Day three I watched one of my favorite new players on the tour, British left-hander, Jack Draper. He had a fairly easy win, but I watched the entire match. He's a beautiful player. We caught a little bit of Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Brandon Holt. Then, I popped over to the Steve Furgal Tennis shop to meet the crew from The Tennis Podcast. I actually met Catherine Whitaker last year in Indian Wells, but it was so fun to meet David and Matt. If you don't already, you should definitely subscribe to their tennis podcast, it's my favorite!
Then we watched one of our favorite matches, Ben Shelton vs. Fabio Fognini. We actually saw Fabio at breakfast that morning. He gave us a thorough, shameless stare down, which was a little creepy. Ben is so fun to watch! He's exciting, and plays such dynamic tennis. You can tell he loves playing, competing, and being a disruptor. He beat Fabio, and the crowd loved him!
We had an incredible meal at Nobu. The famous sushi restaurant is located above Stadium 2, and if you'd like, you can eat along the window and watch the match below. We ate on the outdoor patio, and it was delicious!
This day was first round matches for lots of players, and the crowd was massive. We wanted to watch Taylor Fritz & Tommy Paul play doubles, but the line to get into stadium 4 was at least 50 people deep at every entrance. The stadium was already full of people watching the previous match, and they don't have to leave. Instead of wasting time in line, we went to Stadium 2, and secured seats for Dominic Thiem vs. Adrian Mannarino. I love Dominic. I first saw him play at the French Open, and he has the most beautiful service motion. His trophy pose is flawless, and his one-handed backhand is exquisite. I've been rooting for him throughout his comeback, but he just can't catch a break. He was so good the first set, then lost the second set 4-6. He was up in the third, but Mannarino got it to a tie break. Domi led the tiebreak at one point, but ended up losing 5-7. My heart broke for him.
We wrapped our trip with wine in bed, as we watched the late night matches on Tennis Channel. We were tempted to stay another night, but reality hit us, and we had to go home. It rained the next day, so we felt better about missing the rain.
WHERE WE STAYED
Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa Indian Wells This is by far my favorite hotel for going to the tournament consecutive days. They have a shuttle service that takes you back and forth, so you avoid the parking mess. Lots and lots of players stay at the hotel, and you're likely to run into them. Some of the players we spotted were, Aryna Sabalenka, Ben Shelton, and Fabio Fognini.
In hindsight, we were glad we visited early. This years crowd broke records, and we heard that lines to get food, and watch matches got pretty crazy.
ADVANTAGES OF VISITING EARLY
Fun events like Citi Taste of Tennis, TieBreak Tens, and other social events where you can see the players in a more casual setting.
Everyone is there! All the players are at the tournament. The higher ranked players will likely have bye's, but you can catch them on the practice courts. If a player loses, they typically don't hang around.
Avoid the crowds.
If you've never been to the BNP Paribas Open, I highly recommend it. It's a great "first" tournament to go to. There are lots of great hotels and restaurants, great shopping, lots of opportunities to play tennis or golf, hike, or tour the incredible mid century modern architecture throughout Palm Springs. Based on this years popularity, I don't think it's too early to start planning. If you can reserve your hotel ahead of time, I would do that quickly, as well as flights if you can.
For more information on attending the tournament, take a look at my Palm Springs Guide.