James Blake, Coco Vandeweghe among the wild cards for Indian Wells
Up-and-coming tennis players Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Coco Vandeweghe and Christina McHale were granted wildcards into the main draws for the BNP Paribas Open, which begins next week at Indian Wells.
Veterans James Blake, Vania King, Jill Craybas and Sania Mirza were also given wildcards into the main draws.
Raonic, ranked No. 37 on the ATP World Tour after finishing 2010 at No. 156, advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open this year. A few weeks ago, the 20-year-old Canadian captured his first ATP World Tour title in San Jose and reached the finals at Memphis in back-to-back weeks to become the highest-ranked Canadian singles player in the history of ATP rankings (since 1973).
Nishikori, of Japan, is No. 62 in the world while Harrison, 18, and originally from Louisiana, defeated Ivan Ljubicic in the first round at Indian Wells last year. Australia's Tomic reached the third round of the Australian Open this year before falling to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
On the women’s side, Vandeweghe, from San Diego, was part of the U.S. Fed Cup team that competed in the finals against Italy last November. McHale also helped the U.S. Fed Cup team to the finals last year by assisting in a win over France early in 2010.
Qualifying draw wildcards were given to four men’s players: 1999 BNP Paribas Open champion Mark Philippoussis, who is attempting a comeback; American Ryan Sweeting, who reached the third round of Wimbledon last year; Steve Johnson, who is the No. 1 singles and doubles player at USC; and Greg Ouellette, who is a former Southeastern Conference player of the year.
Former top 30 German star Sabine Lisicki and three young Americans -- Madison Keys, Madison Brengle and Maria Sanchez -- along with rising Puerto Rican junior Monica Puig were granted wildcards into the women’s qualifying draw.
-- Debbie Goffa
Photo: Coco Vandeweghe. Credit: Hiro Komae / EPA