By Jake Davies

  • Five things we’ve learned from Indian Wells and Miami
  • The end of Big 4 dominance?
  • Big returning stars to the women’s game
  • Del Potro’s impressive winning streak
  • Naomi Osaka wins her first title
INDIAN WELLS & MIAMI, USA – With John Isner winning his first Masters at the age of 32, and a clean sweep of American winners closing the curtain on Crandon Park, we take a look at what the US hard court spring swing taught us.

 

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1) The end of the Big 4 dominance?

Over the last decade we have witnessed four special players dominate titles at the highest level in our sport. Those players, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have swept up titles at Grand Slams and Masters 1000 levels, but one thing we have seen in Indian Wells and Miami is that life after the Big 4 could be upon us. With Federer and Djokovic, the only two representatives of the Big 4, going out of Miami without winning a match, it marks the first time since 2004 Paris Masters that a Masters event has seen no wins from one of those four elite players, which surely indicates a change in our sport when it comes to these players winning everything our sport has on offer.

 

2) Victoria Azarenka making up for lost time

Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2018

Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2018 | (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

One of the major talking points of the last three weeks in Indian Wells and Miami was the return of two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka. Her return remarkably has started on an extremely positive note by winning twice against Top 20 opponents and beating Karolina Pliskova to notch another Top 10 win. Azarenka really is making up for lost time from the sport and now moves into the World’s Top 100 with just four tournaments to her name inside the last year.

 

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3) Serena Williams loses early on return but will need matches

Serena Williams in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2018

Serena Williams in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2018 | (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Another player that was making her long awaited return to a tennis court was Serena Williams, who had given birth to her first child merely six months ago. Going into Indian Wells, Williams had only played an exhibition in the Middle East and in New York. The 23-time Grand Slam champion would go on to lose early to her sister Venus Williams at Indian Wells and in the first round to Naomi Osaka in Miami, showing that she will definitely need an accumulation of matches under her belt in order to get back to the lofty heights and standards she set before her break away from top tier professional tennis. The losing early will most likely fuel her fire to get back to where she was faster.

 

4) Juan Martin del Potro in form of his career

Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final of the BNP Paribas Open, ATP Indian Wells 2018

Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final of the BNP Paribas Open, ATP Indian Wells 2018 | (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Along with some promising runs from Hyeon Chung, Frances Tiafoe and Denis Shapovalov at ATP level, we have also seen one of the old guard take centre stage and win his first ever Masters 1000 title by claiming Indian Wells. That man is Juan Martin Del Potro. After 52 tries at Masters level, the big-serving, resilient Argentine won his first Masters crown and his biggest title since the US Open triumph back in 2009.

 

5) Naomi Osaka comes good to win 1st WTA title

Naomi Osaka in her post-final press conference after winning the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells

Naomi Osaka of Japan talks to the media after the final of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

20-year-old Japanese star Osaka had been on the tennis radar for quite some time, making her 1st WTA main draw and winning her first match at that level in 2014 in Stanford where she beat 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur. Fast forward four years and Osaka achieves the biggest accomplishment of her young career by winning Indian Wells and beating some top names in Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep among many on her way to the title. It is starting to look like an extremely positive and successful year for the Japanese, with new coach Sascha Bajin by her side with his wealth of experience at the top level.

 

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