Day 2 of the BNP Paribas Open features three Grand Slam champions -- two of whom face each other -- and three Grand Slam finalists in a stacked first-round schedule. There's also a match to circle between two of the Hologic WTA Tour's finest hot shot exponents. Here are the top five picks from the order of play.
More from Indian Wells: Scores | Order of play | Swiatek and the top seeds | Draw analysis | Sakkari, Fritz encouraged by Netflix | Can Krejcikova, Sabalenka keep up red-hot play? | Swiatek tuning out expectations | Memorable WTA moments | Rogers, Fruhvirtova advance
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. [WC] Sofia Kenin (USA)
Head-to-head: Stephens leads 1-0
The 2017 US Open champion faces the 2020 Australian Open champion in a clash of American major winners seeking to rediscover that form. Sofia Kenin's ranking of No.170 actually reflects an uptick in form for the 24-year-old. She was ranked No.415 last August after an ankle injury sidelined her for four months, and No.280 in January before reaching the last four of Hobart -- her first tour-level semifinal since making the 2020 Roland Garros final.
2023 highlights: Kenin d. Kalinina, Hobart QF | Kenin d. Samsonova, Dubai R1 | Stephens d. Gracheva, Merida R2 | Stephens d. Townsend, Austin R1
In fact, Kenin has won more matches this year (5) than No.48-ranked Sloane Stephens (4). The latter went winless in Australia, and only got her season off the ground with back-to-back quarterfinals in Merida and Austin. But the first of those ended in the first 6-0, 6-0 defeat of her career at the hands of eventual champion Camila Giorgi.
Stephens, a former quarterfinalist in Indian Wells back in 2014, has won just two of her last seven matches here since 2016. Kenin has posted two victories in her previous three main draw appearances.
The pair's only previous meeting was a first-round rollercoaster in Toronto last year. Stephens led 6-2, 5-1 and held four match points in the second set, then led 5-2 in the third set as well. But she needed six match points to eventually close out the battling Kenin 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5. This time, the winner will immediately face another popcorn clash against Wimbledon champion and No.10 seed Elena Rybakina.
Danka Kovinic (MNE) vs. Emma Raducanu (GBR)
Head-to-head: Kovinic leads 1-0
Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu's last match against Danka Kovinic was one of the most memorable of her short career to date. Afflicted by blisters in the second round of the 2022 Australian Open, she resorted to slicing her forehand for much of the contest before falling 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to the Montenegrin.
2023 highlights: Raducanu d. L.Fruhvirtova, Auckland R1
Physical issues have continued to beset Raducanu. She shut down her 2022 season early due to a wrist injury, suffered an ankle injury in her second match of 2023 in Auckland, and had to pull out of Austin last week due to tonsillitis. The 20-year-old Briton, now ranked No.77, also withdrew from the Eisenhower Cup exhibition ahead of Indian Wells; according to news reports, her wrist issue has flared up again.
Can Kovinic take advantage? The World No.62's season began promisingly, with a semifinal in Auckland and quarterfinal in Lyon, but she's now on a three-match losing streak -- including a loss to No.831-ranked Stefania Bojica in Dubai qualifying. Australian Open semifinalist and No.20 seed Magda Linette awaits the winner.
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) vs. Rebecca Marino (CAN)
Head-to-head: Vondrousova leads 2-0
Marketa Vondrousova's career has also been repeatedly interrupted by injury; the latest was wrist surgery that kept her out for six months last year. But the 2019 Roland Garros finalist's No.105 ranking belies how strongly she has performed in her comeback so far.
2023 highlights: Vondrousova d. Jabeur, Australian Open R2 | Vondrousova d. Tomova, Linz R1
Vondrousova is 15-6 since returning in October. That includes a quarterfinal in Adelaide 1 to start this year, followed by an upset of Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open and a semifinal in Linz. Indian Wells has been a happy hunting ground for the 23-year-old in the past: she has made the last 16 in three of her previous four appearances, including a quarterfinal run in 2019.
Vondrousova will also be bolstered by two straight-sets wins in as many encounters with No.75-ranked Rebecca Marino. The 32-year-old Canadian is back in the main draw of Indian Wells for the first time since 2011. The winner will face No.28 seed Marie Bouzkova in the second round.
[LL] Dalma Galfi (HUN) vs. Danielle Collins (USA)
Danielle Collins currently sits at No.31 in the rankings, some way off her No.7 peak last July. But this is more a reflection of the 2021 Australian Open finalist's conscious decision to play a limited schedule than the quality she can bring to the courts.
This year alone, Collins has been involved in several of the tour's most entertaining contests, such as a third-set tiebreak triumph over Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open, and is fresh off a semifinal run in Austin. Indian Wells was the site of her breakthrough in 2018: as a wild card playing her fourth WTA main draw, Collins reached the last 16 and cracked the Top 100 as a result.
2023 highlights: Collins d. Muchova, Australian Open R2 | Collins d. McNally, Austin QF | Galfi d. Lys, Linz R2
Collins' opponent is former US Open junior champion Dalma Galfi, who fell in the last round of qualifying to Katie Swan but entered the draw as a lucky loser after Tamara Korpatsch withdrew due to illness. The 24-year-old Hungarian is ranked No.80, and reached her second career WTA quarterfinal in Linz last month. No.5 seed Caroline Garcia awaits in the second round.
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) vs. Karolina Muchova (CZE)
A first-round clash between two of the tour's premier hot shot queens is one to circle. Both players have been up to their best tricks recently: Yulia Putintseva somehow won two of the best defensive points you'll see all year against Beatriz Haddad Maia in Abu Dhabi, and Karolina Muchova conjured up a spectacular tweener-lob winner against Bernarda Pera in Dubai.
If Muchova is healthy -- an abdominal injury forced the Czech to withdraw from Dubai -- this matchup promises much entertainment. Putintseva and Muchova have some of the softest hands around, and the tactical imagination to do breathtaking things with them. The winner will face No.14 seed Victoria Azarenka.