What We Learned: 2019 Indian Wells
What We Learned: 2019 Indian Wells

This article is part of our What We Learned series.

Indian Wells is one of the most beloved events on the tennis calendar and this year didn't disappoint with young Bianca Andreescu making a fairy-tale run to the title and Dominic Thiem proving he's more than just a clay-court savant. Here's a snapshot of what we learned over the past two weeks in tennis paradise:

Parity is alive and well

With Thiem taking his first title of 2019 over Roger Federer, that means we've had 19 different champions across all 19 ATP events so far this season. Likewise on the WTA side, Andreescu defeating Angelique Kerber means we've had 13 different champions across all 13 WTA events. Or, 32 unique champions so far in 2019, if you will. This probably takes no one by surprise when it comes to the WTA, but it's certainly surprising that neither of the Big 3 (Novak Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal) have nabbed two tournaments yet.

The Canadians are coming

Canadian favorites Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic aren't going anywhere, but it's hard not to overlook those two in favor of three sub-20 players who all had great showings in the California desert: 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov, 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime and 18-year-old Indian Wells Champion Andreescu.

Aesthetically speaking, Shapovalov's one-handed backhand is one of the smoothest shots on tour. More importantly, he has a solid all-around game to go with the effortless backhand and seems to be one of few youngsters who you can comfortably assume will reach No. 1 at some point in their career. While the lefty is still looking for his first ATP title, he could have tournament wins on hard, grass and clay courts within the next two years. All that said, I can't remember a more cringe-worthy moment on the court than after his Round 3 win over Marin Cilic:

Auger-Aliassime has been a darling of the professional tennis world ever since the 2015 Granby Challenger event when he won two main-draw matches as a 14-year-old. That momentum continued to roll this past week as he convincingly took down a top-10 player in Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2 during Round 2. Now ranked a career-high No. 57, the biggest question mark for the French Canadian is his stamina. Naturally that should improve over the coming years, though, and it'll only be a matter of time before he consistently finds himself entering tournaments as a top-30 player.

From a fantasy perspective, Andreescu might already be the most dominant player in the sport, man or woman, so far in 2019. Players tend to conserve their energy after grabbing a break and will happily cruise to a theoretical 6-4, 7-5 victory, but that doesn't appear to be Andreescu's approach to start 2019 as she's registered no more than three lost games in 22 of the 36 sets she's won this year at the WTA level. This was never more true than in the quarterfinals when she clobbered Garbine Muguruza 6-0, 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

The Acapulco viral illness traveled north

Last week in Acapulco a viral illness spread around the women's locker room and forced Monica Puig, Katie Boulter, Amanda Anisimova, Rebecca Peterson and Stefanie Voegele all to bow out early. The same bug appeared to linger in the desert too, most notably causing Serena Williams to retire mid-match in Round 3 while down 6-3, 1-0 to Muguruza. No. 11 seed Anastasija Sevastova also caught the bug, resulting in another mid-match retirement while down 5-0 to Anett Kontaveit in Round 3.

Belinda Bencic is still only 22 years old

Technically we all knew this already, but her peek was thought to have come and gone after she underwent wrist surgery back in May of 2017. A once-top-10 player as an 18-year-old back in 2016, the native of Switzerland is currently ranked No. 3 in the year-end Race to Shenzhen and has a legitimate shot of attaining the No. 1 overall ranking at some point in 2019 after her semifinal run at Indian Wells. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
D.J. Trainor
Tennis Editor and Director of Training and Development at RotoWire. NCAA Student Radio Call of the Week Award way back in 2014, and more recently, winner of the 2017 FSWA Podcast of the Year.
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