Serena could meet Venus in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open, if they survive interesting opening matches

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By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — When the women’s main draw was announced Monday afternoon at the BNP Paribas Open, the dream match up was closer to a possibility.

World No. 1 Serena Williams and her older sister Venus, who is the 12th seed, were on opposite sides of the bracket, which means they could meet in the finals of a tournament that simultaneously launched their careers and had one of their most uncomfortable moments.

To get to the finals, both Serena and Venus will have difficult matches early. The top 32 seeds at the BNP Paribas Open have byes in the first round.

Serena could face Olympic champion Monica Puig in the second round. Venus’ early matches could be tougher, as she could face two-time finalist and 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic in the second round. If she can get past Jankovic, she could face Coco Vandeweghe in a rematch of their Australian Open semifinal.

The defending champion is Victoria Azarenka, but she will not defend her title as she gave birth to her first child in December. Last year, she defeated Serena Williams in the finals.

Serena Williams is a two-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open, but hasn’t won the title since 2001. After the 2001 tournament, Serena and Venus refused to return to Indian Wells after an incident during the 2001 final, where Serena was booed throughout the match.

In the 2001 semifinals, Serena was supposed to play Venus, but Venus pulled out of her match minutes before the nationally televised match because of a knee injury.

Serena returned to Indian Wells two years ago, while Venus returned last year. Serena’s 1999 title at Indian Wells was her first big title. Later that year, Serena would win her first Grand Slam title, the U.S. Open.

 

 

 

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month: When Charlie Pasarell gave Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras their first pro breaks

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In the late 80s and throughout the 90s, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the top stars in tennis and formed one of the sports’ legendary rivalries.

What both had in common was they launched their pro careers at the BNP Paribas Open.

First, Agassi got his break thanks to a phone call from Pancho Gonzales. Pasarell, trusting his idol, gave Agassi the wildcard, sight unseen.

During that debut, Agassi would have to play No. 1 Mats Wilander. Pasarell gave Wilander some advice on how to play the teenager, which he totally disregarded.

Unlike Agassi, Pasarell got a chance to watch Sampras play. Sampras lost in a qualifier, but Pasarell liked what he saw, so he gave him a wildcard.

Sampras would go on to win two rounds in a impressive debut. Later that year, Sampras would turn pro.