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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday October 6, 2021

Conditions at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells are always unique, thanks to the dry desert air, which tends to make balls fly through the air and take wicked bounces off the court. But what can players expect in 2021, with the tournament taking place in October, when temperatures can be even hotter than they are in March?

Tennis Express

It’s not easy to say, but it will be something to keep an eye on with main draw play starting for the women on Wednesday and for the men on Thursday.

Wild card Andy Murray, making his first appearance in the Californa desert since 2017, believes that the balls are heavier than they have been in the past, and he’s very good with that.

"The conditions have changed a bit this year,” he said. “Not in the speed of the court and the air and everything, that's stayed the same. Before the balls that we used to use here were extremely light and combined with the very light air I always – in recent years I did have some good wins here, it's not like I played badly every year – but overall I've been pretty inconsistent here and struggled with that, but the balls here are getting much heavier, which I really like, I always quite like playing slow balls in fast conditions, so it's actually quite different, I'm finding it a lot easier to control the ball here in comparison to other years, yeah, I kind of wish it had been like that in previous years."


Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who will make her main draw debut this year, also believes that heavier balls will make a difference, as well as the heat.

"I'm coming back from Europe when it's already almost winter, so this is going to be probably one of the challenges,” she said, “but also I have a bye here in singles so I'm going to be able to have more time to prepare."

Like Murray, Swiatek says heavy balls also suit her game well.

"I don't know if I need many adjustments because I really like this surface, I really like the balls, so it's not like the US Open where you couldn't control it because the balls were so light, here the conditions on court, I like them, so I just hope I'm going to be able to play my solid game because of that."

Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza isn’t too worried about the balls, or the heat, she’s just happy to be back in “Tennis Paradise.” The Spaniard says it was good for her to stay in the United States after the US Open. She won the title at Chicago last week, and says that being back at Indian Wells, where she owns a 12-7 record and is a two-time quarterfinalist, is perfect for right now.

“I feel it's very refreshing to have this tournament now," she said. "Because at other times we usually have to have longer swings and travel to different places. In my case I just stretched the US Open series until here, and not having to go back to Europe and go back to Asia, I just stayed here, it doesn't feel weird but I'm excited because it feels fresh to have this tournament."


Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, a semifinalist on her last appearance at Indian Wells, thinks the courts are playing slower than they used to. She believes it will help her game.

"Usually I really like the conditions here, always, that didn't change this year, I like that it's flying a little bit more, of course you need a couple of days to get used to this, but for sure I find the courts a little bit slower than they were, before, a couple of years ago and maybe the last years,” she said, adding: “Also the big factor in this is the balls, it is always depending on how the balls are if they really get big and if they fly a lot if it's new balls and things like this, so it's definitely you need a few days to get used to it but usually I really like these conditions and it is suiting me well."

Stefanos Tsitsipas isn’t quite sure how to make sense of the balls just yet, but he does add that playing with the Penn balls in use by the tournament is different.

"I'm not sure if the balls are the same, like the Laver Cup, but they are Penn balls and we as players are not used to playing with Penn balls, I do find them slightly heavier than the original balls that we get to play on the tour."

Tsitsipas says that there is one element of the conditions that favor him: the dryness of the air.

"It's very dry here, we know that when we come here, the conditions are very dry,” he said. “That is good for me, because I guess I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints, so a very good sign so far."

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