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By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson gains a wildcard into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells
  • Maria Sharapova withdraws

CALIFORNIA, USA – Good news for Heather Watson as she enjoys a good run of form as she receives a wild-card for Indian Wells, but Maria Sharapova withdraws with injury.

After reaching the fourth round of BNP Paribas Open last year, Watson has been awarded a wild-card by the tournament organisers just as she seems to be finding a good run of form.

The former British No. 1 started the year in Perth partnering last year’s semi-finalist Andy Murray in the Hopman Cup before heading to Hobart to defend her title, falling in the quarter-final.

Since then though she struggled to get going, finally snapping a three match losing streak this week in Monterrey, where she next faces second seed Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the semi-final.

Having slipped down the rankings while the Johanna Konta has surged into the Top 30, with Naomi Broady cracking the Top 100 at the start of the year, this is good news for Watson, who achieved her best result in Palm Springs last year.

Meanwhile there was less good news for two-time champion Maria Sharapova who announced she would have to pull out of the tournament, still struggling with a left forearm injury that has seen her miss the Middle East Swing completely.

In a statement on the BNP Paribas Open website, she said: “I am extremely disappointed that I am unable to compete in this year’s BNP Paribas Open,” she said. “I have been focused on healing my left forearm injury and tried to get my body to be 100% ready to play this event, as it is one of my favorites on the WTA and so close to my home in LA. I know the tournament will be a great success this year and I will be anxious to return next year and hopefully many years after.”

CEO Raymond Moore said: “We are disappointed that Maria is unable to play in this year’s BNP Paribas Open as she is a terrific competitor and a fan favourite in Indian Wells,” said Moore. “We wish her a speedy recovery, and look forward to having her back next year.” 

The tournament main draw begins on 10 March.


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