Steve Simon, tournament director for the BNP Paribas Open, announced today that Juan Martin del Potro has been granted a wildcard into the main draw of this year’s event. Del Potro was formerly ranked No. 4 in the world before injuries sidelined his progress.
Additionally, Americans Tim Smyczek, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Austin Krajicek, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend, Grace Min, Louisa Chirico, Sachia Vickery and Bethanie Mattek-Sands were also awarded wildcards into the main draw, along with Donna Vekic of Croatia. Serena Williams had previously accepted a wildcard, which begins Monday, March 9.
“This year’s BNP Paribas Open main draw wildcards add more depth to our already talented fields with Grand Slam Champions Juan Martin del Potro and Serena Williams,” Simon said. “They also provide young American stars like Ryan Harrison, Nicole Gibbs, and Taylor Townsend the opportunity to compete at the BNP Paribas Open.”
Del Potro won the 2009 US Open, reached the quarterfinals of Sydney this year, and is rebounding from left wrist surgery on January 19 of this year. This will be his first tournament the aforementioned aborted comeback earlier this season. He has played this combined ATP and WTA event five times.
His best result came in 2013 when he reached the finals, losing to Rafael Nadal.
Tim Smyczek gained notoriety at this year’s Australian Open when he battled Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller. Smyczek was lauded for giving Nadal a serve after the Spaniard was interrupted by a fan. Ryan Harrison, once a young American on the rise, is enjoying a resurgence that saw him reach the semifinals of Acapulco last week, defeating defending champion and then-No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov along the way.
More on the other wildcards:
- Denis Kudla reached a career-high ranking of No. 90 last summer.
- Austin Krajicek reached his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal in Memphis in February.
- Nicole Gibbs reached the third round of the U.S. Open and quarterfinals at Seoul last year.
- Taylor Townsend reached the third round of last year’s French Open.
- Grace Min reached the semifinals at Bad Gastein in 2014. She is currently at a career-high ranking on No. 97 in the world.
- Louisa Chirico has four ITF titles, 2 singles and 2 doubles.
- Sachia Vickery reached the second round of the 2013 U.S. Open.
- Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the women’s doubles title alongside Lucy Safarova at this year’s Australian Open. She also reached the third round in singles.
- Donna Vekic won her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur last year, but has only won two main draw WTA matches since Wimbledon.
Wildcards for the qualification tournament were awarded to Americans Mackenzie McDonald, Taylor Fritz, Julia Boserup, Maria Sanchez, Tornado Black, Allie Kiick, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei and Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann.
McDonald is 19 and attends UCLA. In 2013, he became the first unranked teen to qualify for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati since Sergio Casal (Miami, 1995).
At 17, Fritz advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open Junior Championships this January while Boserup has won two ITF singles titles. Sanchez is a former USC standout and top-ranked collegiate singles player who turned pro in 2011.
Black has already won two ITF singles titles and earned her highest career ranking in 2014. Kiick made her way inside the top 150 in 2014; and, Hsieh was ranked No. 23 in singles in 2013. She and Peng Shuai won the doubles last year in Indian Wells. Hanfmann was No. 1 in both singles and doubles, during the 2013-2014 USC tennis season. He also helped his team to the 2014 NCAA Championship.
In addition to the these qualifying wildcards, the men’s and women’s winners of the BNP Paribas Open Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament taking place March 2-7, will also be granted a berth into the 2015 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. That starts March 9 for the women, and on March 10 for the men.
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