The BNP Paribas Open kicks off the Hologic WTA Tour's own version of March Madness -- a four-week coast-to-coast romp that begins in California and closes out the spring hard-court season in Florida. 

Here's what you need to know about Indian Wells, the third WTA 1000 tournament of the year:

When does the tournament start?

The BNP Paribas Open follows Doha and Dubai. It is played on outdoor hard courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and features a 96-player singles field and a 32-team doubles field. The tournament uses Penn Tour Regular Duty balls. 

Qualifying begins on Sunday, March 3, with main-draw play beginning on Wednesday, March 6. Day sessions begin at 11 a.m. PT. Indian Wells is on Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8).

Each half of the draw will continue to alternate days until the quarterfinals. All singles quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, March 14. Singles semifinals will be played on Friday, March 15. 

When are the finals? 

The doubles final will be played on Saturday, March 16 at 11 a.m. 

The singles final will be played on Sunday, March 17 at 11 a.m.

Who are the top seeds?

The Top 32 seeds will receive a first-round bye. They will play their opening matches across Friday and Saturday of the first week. 

Top 16 seeds

No.1 Iga Swiatek
No.2 Aryna Sabalenka
No.3 Coco Gauff
No.4 Elena Rybakina
No.5 Jessica Pegula
No.6 Ons Jabeur
No.7 Marketa Vondrousova
No.8 Zheng Qinwen
No.9 Maria Sakkari
No.10 Jelena Ostapenko
No.11 Daria Kasatkina
No.12 Beatriz Haddad Maia
No.13 Jasmine Paolini
No.14 Liudmila Samsonova
No.15 Ekaterina Alexandrova
No.16 Elina Svitolina

Champions Reel: How Elena Rybakina won Indian Wells 2023

Who are the defending champions?

World No.4 Elena Rybakina captured her first WTA 1000 title by defeating No.2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(11), 6-4 in the final, a rematch of the Australian Open final earlier that year.

In doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia and Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-7(3) [10-7] to win their first Indian Wells team title. 

What does the draw look like?

What is the prize money and ranking points on offer?

The total financial commitment at Indian Wells is $9,258,080.

Champion: $1,100,000/1,000 points
Finalist: $585,000/650 points
Semifinalist: $325,000/390 points
Quarterfinalist: $185,000/215 points
Fourth Round: $101,000/120 points
Third Round: $59,100/65 points
Second Round: $42,000/35 points
First Round: $30,050/10 points

Recapping season so far:

Eleven Hologic WTA Tour tournaments are in the books with two ongoing this week in San Diego and Austin. The top 4 players have dominated the early stages of the season, with No.4 Elena Rybakina and No.10 Jelena Ostapenko leading the way with two titles and stacking the most wins. Not far behind them are No.1 Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, who have played more limited schedules but have taken two of the three biggest titles of the first two months. 

Grand Slams
Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka d. Zheng Qinwen

WTA 1000s
Doha: Iga Swiatek d. Elena Rybakina, 7-6(8), 6-2
Dubai: Jasmine Paolini d. Anna Kalinskaya, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5

WTA 500s
Brisbane: Elena Rybakina d. Aryna Sabalenka
Adelaide: Jelena Ostpaenko d Daria Kasatkina
Linz: Jelena Ostapenko d. Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-2, 6-3
Abu Dhabi: Elena Rybakina d. Daria Kasatkinza, 6-1, 6-4
San Diego: TBD

WTA 250s
Auckland: Coco Gauff d. Elina Svitolina, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3
Hobart:  Emma Navarro d. Elise Mertens, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
Hua Hin: Diana Shnaider d. Zhu Lin, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
Cluj-Napoca: Karolina Pliskova d. Ana Bogdan, 6-4, 6-3
Austin: TBD

United Cup: Germany d. Poland, 3-2

In the shadow of the top players' consistent success, there remains plenty of room for surprises. Sabalenka may have defended her title in Melbourne, but that tournament saw China's Zheng Qinwen make her first major final and Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska run through the draw as a qualifier to make her first Slam semifinal. 

The surprises continued in February. NCAA standout Diana Shnaider won her first WTA title in Hua Hin, as a qualifier no less. Then came the stunner in Dubai, where Italy's Jasmine Paolini and qualifier Anna Kalinskaya locked horns in the first unseeded WTA 1000 final since 2022.