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Indian Wells : The first Masters 1000 of the season in 5 interesting facts

Updated: Apr 24

The first part of the Sunshine Double

After playing in the hot and humid conditions in Australia and Central/South America, the ATP and WTA tours move to the arid desert of California for the first stage of the Sunshine Double. Indian Wells, often referred as the 5th Slam du to its scale and the size of its 96 players draws, is played in the breathtaking decor of a small oasis two hours from Los Angeles. For this occasion, we'll discover the tournament with five interesting facts.

01. The second largest tennis stadium in the world

Stadium #1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Stadium no.1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has a capacity of 16 100 spectators, making it the second largest tennis stadium in the world behind the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. The U.S. Open stadium can accommodate up to 23 771 spectators.


02. The NBA played outdoor games at Indian Wells

Outdoor NBA game played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Three outdoor NBA games were played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the first two being played in harsh conditions, the cold and wind playing a big part in the final score.

Contrary to professional tennis players, NBA players are not used to outdoor conditions, resulting in an awful performance from both teams. The first game between the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets was affected by low temperatures (around 18C/64F) and high winds (15 mph/24kph). The harsh conditions affected the players so badly that they shot below 40 percent and hit only 3 out of 27 from the three-point line. The final score : a mere 77-72 in favor of the Nuggets.


03. The first purple courts

The first purple tennis courts

The famous purple courts that we can now see in dozens of tournaments around the world made their debut at Indian Wells in 2014. The Plexipave surface color was created specifically for the ATP Masters Series and first used in the Coachella Valley, where the Indian Wells tennis tournament is played.

The purple color sits exactly 180 degrees from yellow on a color wheel whereas blue is in the range of 120-160 degrees. Purple is the color that offers the biggest contrast with a tennis ball, resulting in a better experience for players and spectators alike.


04. The slowest hardcourt surface on the tour

Daniil Medvedev falls at Indian Wells

Source :

The conditions in Indian Wells are unique : the balls travel fast in the thin and dry air of the desert, but slow down considerably and bounce high when they hit the surface. Many players have difficulties adapting to the Indian Wells conditions, notable players like Daniil Medvedev and Andy Murray have complained multiple times.

The Plexipave surface in Indian Wells is the slowest hardcourt surface on the tour, barely quicker than clay. The surface is consistently covered with sand grains from the neighboring desert, the players often comparing it to sandpaper. The sand grains make movements difficult and prematurely use the balls, resulting in many complaints from the players.


05. Nadal in Federer's player's box?

Rafael Nadal in Roger Federer's player's box at Indian Wells

Source : @Rafa_Minato99

In March 2004, a 17-year-old Rafael Nadal plays for the first time in his career against Roger Federer... in doubles! Paired with his fellow countryman Tommy Robredo, he plays against the Swiss pair of Roger Federer and Yves Allegro. After the Spanish pair gets the better of the Swisses in three sets, Federer offers to Nadal, who was eliminated in the 3rd round in singles, to attend his quarter-final match against Juan Ignaco Chela in his player's box.

Sitting a few feet from Mirka, he watches Federer completely dominate his opponent in an hour. You would think that it would have intimidated Nadal, but less than two weeks later, Nadal would beat Federer in their first singles meeting by two identical sets of 6-3.

This story and many more are told in the BIG 3 book written by the French author Bastien Fachan. He explores the Big 3 rivalry (Djokovic, Federer and Nadal) in 40 interesting stories based around some of their legendary matches, anecdotes, statistics and more. The book is only available in French, but you can get it here.


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