The BNP Paribas Open, played in Indian Wells, Calif., is one of the biggest co-ed tennis tournaments of the year, right behind the four Grand Slam events and the Miami Open, which is up next on the schedule. Together, these two events are known as the Sunshine Double, and to win both consecutively is such a rarity that more players have won the French Open and Wimbledon as consecutive Slam wins – and they're played on different surfaces.
Still, players must be healthy in order to compete, and three of the biggest names in the women’s draw have pulled out prior to the start of the tournament. Defending champion Bianca Andreescu withdrew yesterday, due to a knee injury suffered at the WTA Championships in China last October. Andreescu was forced to pull out of the Australian Open and three tournaments which followed and now she's out of Indian Wells. Now we wait.
Her withdrawal comes a day after both Simona Halep and Angie Kerber also dropped out. Halep, the 2015 champion, and the reigning Queen of Wimbledon appeared particularly frustrated having to withdraw from her planned trip to the California desert. Halep recognizes Indian Wells as one of her favorite stops, but she hurt her foot prior to last week’s Dubai event, and she appeared to limp to the title over Kazakhstan’s 6’, 20-year-old, Elena Rybakina in a third set tiebreaker. That injury hasn’t healed quickly enough to enable her to play. As the Romanian has admitted herself, “I’m falling to pieces.”
For Kerber, however, last year’s finalist, missing out on playing in California, is of particular frustration. She's now ranked outside of the Top 20 at 21 and is paying the price for not being able to play a full schedule because of injuries. Kerber was still able to play in 21 tournaments out of a 52-week year, but that left her behind Sofia Kenin (24), Kiki Bertens (25), Elina Svitolina (23), and Belinda Bencic (25) as Top Tenners who were able to play more. Other lesser-known players such as Arantxa Rus (35), Tatjana Maria (32), and Paula Badosa (32) easily topped Kerber’s participation rate, which enables them to accumulate more ranking points and more prize money. Kerber, however, is looking to get back on the court. Her goal? Recapture her #1 ranking (9/12/2016), and add to her total career prize money of $29,526,500. Sitting out now may allow her to fully heal, which might give her the ability to extend her career.