Indian Wells 2012: BNP Paribas Open announces wildcards

Former top-five player David Nalbandian; Americans Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Robby Ginepri, Irina Falconi, Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton, Coco Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis and Jill Craybas; and Sania Mirza and Urszula Radwanska were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 5-18 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

Nalbandian has won 11 ATP World Tour titles since turning professional in 2000 and reached the 2002 Wimbledon finals in his first appearance at the event. The Argentine and former World No. 3 will be making his ninth appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. His best result in Indian Wells was when he reached the quarterfinals in 2008.

American Sam Querrey reached a career-high ranking of No. 17 in the world at the beginning of 2011 before injuries sidelined him for much of the year. Currently just inside the top 100, the six-time ATP World Tour titlist and Southern California native is working his way back up the rankings and looking to continue that trend at the BNP Paribas Open.

Seven young Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including 19-year-old Jack Sock, who paired with Melanie Oudin to win the 2011 US Open mixed doubles title; 19-year-old Denis Kudla, who reached the second round at San Jose this month and is at a career-high ranking; 21-year-old Irina Falconi, who defeated two higher-ranked opponents to reach the third round of the 2011 US Open; soon-to-be 19-year-old (her birthday is March 2) Sloane Stephens, who is the second youngest player in the WTA top 100; 22-year-old Jamie Hampton, who is at a career-high ranking of No. 104; 20-year-old Californian Coco Vandeweghe, who first played at the BNP Paribas Open in 2007 when she was only 15; and 18-year-old Lauren Davis, who won two ITF titles in 2011. Along with these Americans, 21-year-old Urszula Radwanska, younger sister to World No. 5 Agnieszka, was also granted a wildcard into the main draw.

Three veterans receiving main draw wildcards are Robby Ginepri, Jill Craybas and Sania Mirza. Ginepri reached a career high No. 15 in the world in 2005, a season that included a run to the semifinals of the US Open. His first appearance at the BNP Paribas Open came back in 2003, where he reached the quarterfinals. Craybas turned professional in 1996 and will be making her 12th consecutive appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. Mirza, from India, owns one singles title, and is also an accomplished doubles player. She owns 13 doubles titles, including the 2011 BNP Paribas Open (with Elena Vesnina).

“Wildcards have always presented the BNP Paribas Open with a way to provide a mix of players from veterans to rising stars to top players that might be returning from injury the opportunity to shine in the main draw,” said Simon. “Adding players like David Nalbandian; Jack Sock, Irina Falconi and Sloane Stephens; and former top 20 star Sam Querrey only strengthens our already incredible fields.”

Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Steve Johnson, Tim Smyczek, Daniel Kosakowski and Julia Cohen, and to Belgian Steve Darcis and Puerto Rican Monica Puig.

Reigning NCAA Singles Champion Johnson has led the USC Trojans to three straight NCAA team championships and has returned for his senior year. Smyczek fought through qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open in 2011 and reached the second round of the main draw, losing in a tight third set tiebreak. Kosakowski battled through the 2011 BNP Paribas Open pre-qualifying tournament to earn wildcards into the qualifying draw. Cohen has won two ITF titles in 2011. Darcis has won two ATP World Tour titles in his career. Puig recently captured the silver medal at the Pan American Games, defeating top seed Christina McHale to reach the finals.

In addition to three women’s qualifying wildcards the tournament has yet to give, the winners of each pre-qualifying tournament, which takes place February 27-March 3, will also be granted a berth into the 2012 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 5 and men’s qualifying begins March 6.


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