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Women’s Main Draw Singles Play to Begin at BNP Paribas Open

BNP Paribas Open

INDIAN WELLS (CNS) - Women's main draw singles play begins today at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden with 16 matches, including 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens facing Heather Watson of Great Britain.

The 28-year-old Stephens is 73rd on the Women's Tennis Association rankings. The 29-year-old Watson is ranked 57th. This will be the eighth meeting between the two, with Watson leading the series, 5-2, including a 6-3, 6-0 victory in their most recent meeting, a second-round match in the 2016 Miami Open.

Stephens rose to a career-best third in 2018 after reaching the finals of the French Open. She has not reached a tournament final since 2018.

Stephens was 39th in the first rankings issued in 2021 and dropped to 73rd June 28. She advanced to the third round of last month's U.S. Open, raising her to 55th in the rankings.

In her only match since the U.S. Open, Stephens lost to 13th-seeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, 6-2, 6-1, in a first-round match of the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic.

Watson was born in the English Channel island Guernsey and moved to Florida when she was 12 to train at the Bollettieri Academy where she continues to train. She has won four WTA singles titles, most recently the 2020 Mexican Open.

The Stephens-Watson match will be the second played on the Stadium 1 court. Women's play will be televised Wednesday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. by Tennis Channel.

The 32 seeded players in the 96-player draw received first-round byes. Wednesday's women's singles winners are guaranteed at least $29,045 while the losers will receive $18,155.

Men's qualifying play will conclude Wednesday with 24 players seeking the 12 spots in the 96-player main draw reserved for qualifiers.

Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands is the highest-ranked and top-seeded player in men's qualifying. He will face American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the third match on the Stadium 4 court.

Van de Zandschulp was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Canadian Peter Polansky Tuesday while Kwiatkowski upset 21st-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, 6-4, 6-2.

Van de Zandschulp rose from previous career-high 117th on the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings to 62nd after advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, including victories over then 11th-ranked Casper Ruud of Norway and 14th ranked Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Van de Zandschulp lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5. Van de Zandschulp was the only player to win a set from Medvedev in the U.S. Open.

Van de Zandschulp has dropped to 65th in the rankings. Kwiatkowski is ranked 239th. He rose to a career-high 181st in February 2020 after winning a challenger tournament in Newport Beach. He won the 2017 NCAA men's singles championship, playing for Virginia.

Wednesday's winners in men's qualifying are guaranteed at least $18,155 while the losers will receive $9,110.

Women's singles qualifying play concluded Tuesday with Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine upsetting top-seeded Jasmine Paolini of Italy, 6-1, 6-3, to earn one of 12 spots in the 96-player main draw reserved for qualifiers. Kozlova is ranked 136th and was seeded 15th in 48-player qualifying draw. Paolini is ranked 63rd.

Of the 14 Americans in the women's qualifying draw, two advanced to the main draw.

Usue Maitane Arconada defeated ninth-seeded Beatrice Haddad Maia of Brazil, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, Tuesday while Alycia Parks defeated 11th-seeded Maddison Inglis of Australia, 6-3, 6-4.

The 22-year-old Arconada was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and now lives in Naples, Florida. She won a $60,000 ITF/USTA tournament in Berkeley that concluded Sunday and is ranked 182nd.

The 20-year-old Parks was born in Atlanta, lives in Florida and is ranked 245th.

Men's main draw singles play is set to begin Thursday while the seeded women's players will begin play Friday.

Sarah-Jayne Simon

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