Last month it snowed (and hailed) in the Coachella Valley for the first time in 39 years.

The Palm Springs/Indian Wells desert area is no Sahara with camels and endless vistas of sand dunes – actually it’s more just simple sagebrush and palm trees. But there has been a climate turn toward chilly of late. This week in Indian Wells there will be no daily high temperatures above 78 F (25 C) with night-time lows sub 50 F (10 C). And the daytime mercury will not climb above 80 F (26 C) until Sunday.

Locals tend to downplay this cool passage, with one television weather person euphemistically using the word “mild” to describe the conditions of this current cold wave.

Almost as rare as these climatic times has been a year like this one without any Canadians in the BNP Paribas Open qualifying. With just 76 main draw entries in the 96-player events, only No. 36 Bianca Andreescu, No. 49 Leylah Annie Fernandez (she lost her points this week from winning in Monterrey a year ago), No. 75 Rebecca Marino, No. 10 Félix Auger-Aliassime and No. 30 Denis Shapovalov received direct main-draw entry.

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There could have been two Canadians in the qualifying but Genie Bouchard, with her injury-protected ranking of No. 118, is getting over a knee issue but is expected to play the Miami Open qualifying in two weeks. And Vasek Pospisil, now ranked No. 153, is currently on a break from the tour.

The women’s qualifying cut-off of No. 148 meant No. 169 Carol Zhao and No. 199 Katherine Sebov couldn’t play, the same with the men’s cut-off of No. 146 for No. 213 Gabriel Diallo and No. 221 Alexis Galarneau.

The draws on Monday in the main plaza beside Stadium 1 featured a new twist this year, with the WTA supervisor Carolyn Kramer and the ATP Tour supervisor Tom Barnes appearing on a screen drawing the seeded players before a computer randomly generated and put the non-seeds in place.

It was all a little tedious for some of the assembled fans watching in rows of deck chairs. One older woman was heard to remark, as the seeds were being placed one by one, “it’s not as exciting as I thought it would be – I think I’m done,” before she left.

The draws have been reasonably kind to the Canadians, especially with Andreescu, at No. 32 and Fernandez at No. 30 slipping into the 32 seeds. Both now have byes and then manageable – if that is ever fair to say – opening matches before Andreescu could face top-seed and world No. 1 Iga Świątek in round three and Fernandez could play fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia in a rematch of their second round at the Australian Open.

Marino takes on the often-injured but potentially tough Marketa Vondrousova in the first round on Thursday. The Czech currently ranks No. 105 but has the pedigree of being a Grand Slam runner-up – losing the 2019 Roland-Garros final as a 19-year-old 6-1, 6-3 to Ashleigh Barty.   

With regards to No. 8 seed Auger-Aliassime and No. 25 Shapovalov, they look like they could make some headway in the event. But it’s always dangerous to speculate because Auger-Aliassime has lost to players ranked No. 71 (Jiri Lehecka at the AO) and No. 67 (Lorenzo Sonego in Dubai) in two of his last four tournaments while Shapovalov has been beaten by No. 97 (Wu Yibing in Dallas) and No. 87 (Michael Mmoh in Delray Beach) in two of his last three.

Auger-Aliassime would seemed better positioned because the first seed he could face would be No. 27 Francisco Cerundolo in the third round while Shapovalov’s round-three opponent could be No. 6 Andrey Rublev. They had a memorable third-round encounter at the 2022 US Open, won by Rublev 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(9).


Photo : Jimmie48

The Eisenhower Cup Tie Break Tens mixed event played in Stadium 2 on Tuesday night featured the top-four ranked women players – Iga Świątek, Aryna Sabalenka, Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur, and the men’s No. 3, No. 4 and No 5, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Taylor Fritz.

Canadians Leylah Annie Fernandez and Félix Auger-Aliassime were second on court and they spent the time courtside during the first 10-point, quarter-final tiebreak riding exercise bikes and then doing some jumping up and down to keep warm on a cold night.

To wit: when Świątek was asked on court after her semi-final victory with compatriot Hubert Hurkacz what she liked most about Indian Wells, she replied, “usually the weather, but this year (she just smiled and shrugged)…”

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The Fernandez – Auger-Aliassime match against Świątek – Hurkacz began with a ‘rock/paper/scissors’ to determine serve – won by Świątek over Fernandez with ‘paper over rock.’

It was an even tiebreak until the tenth point with the Canadians leading 5-4. On that one, Świątek had a shot near the net and showed just how competitive she is by unloading a winning forehand right at Fernandez, who was defenceless at the net. That started a run of six of the final seven points for the Polish pair – Hurkacz dominating many of them with aggressive play.

The final score was 10-6 and Świątek and Hurkacz went on to lose a close final 10-8 to Sabalenka and Fritz. Ironically, that tiebreak may have been decided by Fritz turning the tables on Świątek – blasting a service return right at her at the net to give his team a crucial 9-7 lead.

Sabalenka had spent the early part of the evening draped in an enormous beige shawl in the chilly conditions.

There was one consolation for Fernandez after the match when house announcer Andrew Krasny said about her in the on-court interview, “win or lose you’ve got the best smile on the tennis court.”

Sabalenka and Hurkacz split the ‘winner take all’ prize money of $200,000 in an event with its proceeds going to fund local charities.

All and all it was a fun night in Stadium 2 for the 5,000-plus spectators with plenty of entertaining points.

World No. 1 Świątek later commented, “I like playing against guys – I feel that I can play without expectations.”


They went at it with tough, hard-hitting rallies, but it was mostly in good fun when Coco Gauff and Frances Tiafoe had a practice session in Stadium 1 on Monday night. Gauff even got a bit mischievous with Tiafoe, having an extended dispute with him about one of his sideline shots that she insisted was out.

World No. 1 Iga Świątek, above running to her workout on the grand green lawn at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, is the BNP Paribas Open defending champion. She will also be the defending champion at the next four events if she plays them all – Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros.

There seem to be more and children on tour these days – including 2½-year-old Roberto Bautista Agut Jr., seen here being carried by his father.