It feels like a few weeks sometimes. Other times, it feels like forever.
But exactly a year ago today, the BNP Paribas Open suddenly cancelled the 2020 edition of its tournament.
It was the eve of the start of the event, of the first round of qualifying. And even while a Challenger-level tournament had been going on all week, most of the top players had already arrived to practice.
Indian Wells is like that. It seems quaint now, when they are sequestered in their hotels every minute they’re not playing.
But in the desert many teams rent homes and condos, and settle in for a few weeks.
Even after they’re eliminated, they stick around and practice, enjoying the perfect weather before heading to the next event in Miami. Many find time to get some golf in, too.
It’s like a little oasis of home during a non-stop season of travels and hotels. They have another one in the summer, when many do the same during Wimbledon.
Indian Wells cancelled – a shock, and a surprise
There were rumblings it might happen. But they weren’t loud. There was only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the region. Players just got on with their business.
Until around 7 p.m., when the news came out.
Open Court was there early last year. And on that Sunday evening, we were trying to get any information to substantiate the chatter. No one was too helpful.
In the end, the news was announced.
As we went out on the grounds to try to get some comment from players and coaches still around, the first person we ran into was Sascha Bajin, who was then coaching Dayana Yastremska.
(That ended in September. He’s now coaching Karolina Pliskova).
His first reaction: “You’re lying”.
If only that were the case. Bajin then took off to see what he could do about it. But even Bajin’s superpowers couldn’t stop the inevitable.
The site got very quiet, very quickly.
Here was the last practice.
A year later, here we are.
A few scenes to savour
Because Indian Wells also will not happen in 2021 – at least not in its usual time slot, it’s another year without all the perfect vistas and scenes the fans who attend enjoy, and everyone else looks at on television, wishing they could take them in, in person.
So here’s a taste of it.
A nighttime Sascha Selfie Moment
A few days before everything went south, Alexander Zverev climbed up on the fence on the front practice courts to … create a little Indian Wells social media content.
(As he as doing this, a women came by and asked him for an autograph. He was too busy, he told her. True story).
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