The 2023 edition of the BNP Paribas Open gets under way on Wednesday. The tournament's 32 seeds have received byes into the second round, but first-round action features a plethora of in-form players and rising talents. Here are the top five matches on the Day 1 schedule.
[Q] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) vs. Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
Marta Kostyuk, 20, made headlines last week after winning her first Hologic WTA Tour title in Austin and dedicating her victory to "all the people who are fighting and dying in Ukraine". The Kyiv native has been on the radar since reaching the third round of the 2018 Australian Open as a 15-year-old, but has levelled up this year. In 2023, Kostyuk has marshalled her wide repertoire into a coherent game plan, and has been rewarded with her most consistent performances to date.
She'll bid to win her sixth straight match against another in-form player. Rebecca Peterson reached her third career final, and first since 2019, in Merida two weeks ago as a qualifier. The 27-year-old Swede has come through qualifying again in Indian Wells without dropping a set. The winner will meet No.22 seed Zhang Shuai.
Linda Noskova (CZE) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
This will only be the eighth WTA main draw of Linda Noskova's nascent career, but the 18-year-old Czech has already cracked the Top 50 and marked herself as a serious prospect with easy power off both wings.
The first week of 2023 saw her deliver a remarkable run to her maiden final at Adelaide 1 as a qualifier. Her six victories included her first two Top 10 wins (over Daria Kasatkina and Ons Jabeur) and two escapes from match point down (including in a third-set tiebreak against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals). Only eventual Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka could stop Noskova in the title match.
The teenager followed that run with a quarterfinal showing in Lyon in February. She will make her Indian Wells debut against the experienced 32-year-old Irina-Camelia Begu, who captured her fifth career title in Palermo last July and who was also an Adelaide 1 semifinalist this year. The winner will face No.31 seed Amanda Anisimova.
Anna Kalinskaya vs. Alycia Parks (USA)
February was tweener month on the WTA, and it was a brilliant winner from Alycia Parks in the second round of Lyon that kicked off the trend. Even more impressively, the 22-year-old American went on to capture her first WTA trophy, culminating in a fiercely competitive final upset of home hope Caroline Garcia.
Parks, who has since cracked the Top 50 for the first time, thrives indoors, where her phenomenal serve is at its most lethal. Since last October, she is 19-2 indoors -- a record that also includes wins over Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari to reach the Ostrava quarterfinals, and consecutive WTA 125 titles in Andorra-la-Vella and Angers last December. But in the same period, she is just 5-7 outdoors.
To date, Parks owns one tour-level win and one Top 100 victory on outdoor hard courts. She'll bid to double both those numbers against the neat, solid game of Anna Kalinskaya, who is fresh off a quarterfinal run in Austin. The winner will face No.17 seed Pliskova.
Mayar Sherif (EGY) vs. Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
It's almost exactly a year since Linda Fruhvirtova's breakout run at Miami 2022, where she took out Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka to reach the fourth round as a 16-year-old wild card ranked No.279. Fruhvirtova's progress hasn't slowed since then. Now 17, she is the youngest player on tour to have won a WTA title (in Chennai last September) and to have reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam (on her Australian Open debut in January).
The younger of the two teenage Czech Lindas, Fruhvirtova's calling cards are superb footspeed and competitive grit. Her main draw debut at Indian Wells will come against the trailblazing Mayar Sherif, Egypt's first ever Top 50 player, who claimed her own maiden title in Parma last year. No.27 seed Anhelina Kalinina awaits in the second round.
[Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) vs. Wang Xiyu (CHN)
Powerful left-handers Olga Danilovic and Wang Xiyu were both early leading lights of the class of 2001. Danilovic became the first player born that year to win a WTA title, at the 2018 Moscow River Cup; in the same year, Wang became US Open girls' champion and the junior World No.1.
Last year saw Wang deliver her most consistent season to date, including an upset of Maria Sakkari at the US Open, to crack the Top 50. Injuries and illness have beset Danilovic, but the Serb still managed to reach a second WTA final in Lausanne last July, and she battled through two three-setters against Viktorija Golubic and Kaja Juvan to qualify this week. Despite being generational peers, Wang and Danilovic have never previously played each other at any level.
The winner will face another 2001-born player, No.26 seed Anastasia Potapova.