The BNP Paribas Open—or, as everyone still calls it, thankfully, Indian Wells—is arguably the most major tennis tournament outside of the actual majors comprising the Grand Slam. Held every year in early March and sandwiched in between Palm Springs and the Coachella site, it’s the sort of fan-friendly, promising-weather getaway that has made it beloved among tennis enthusiasts since its establishment 44 years ago.
The big story this year on the men’s side has been injuries, with Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray all skipping the tournament with various ailments and Novak Djokovic going down early to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round. This leaves Roger Federer—the newly rechristened world number one—as the odds-on favorite, though he’ll likely have to contend with Juan Martín Del Potro first.
The women’s draw presents some more competitive and compelling pairings. After eighth-seeded Venus Williams beat her sister Serena in the round of 32, she’s fairly cruised through to the semifinals. Still, it’s her opponent, 20th-seeded Daria Kasatkina from Russia, who’s been the story of the tournament, knocking out U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, the world’s second-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, and the former world number one, Angelique Kerber—all in straight sets—to put her one match away from the finals.
The other semifinal features world number one (and the tournament’s number one seed) Simona Halep up against the unseeded Naomi Osaka. With Osaka already going down as the Cinderella-killer of the tournament—she stopped the rocket-like ascent of 100th-ranked Sashia Vickery, who beat both Eugenie Bouchard and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbi?e Muguruza in the earlier rounds at Indian Wells—it’s a solid bet that Halep marches on.
The semifinals begin tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.