INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The hard yards put in by 23-year-old Laslo Djere and 18-year-old Félix Auger-Aliassime down on the Brazilian red clay did not go unnoticed by the powers-that-be at the BNP Paribas Open.
Both received wild cards into the tournament’s main draw, which begins Wednesday.
For Auger-Aliassime, who was just outside the top 100 at the entry deadline for qualifying, it means he’ll have some wiggle room.
Eliminated Friday night in the quarterfinals by Djere, he’ll have at least four days to travel from Brazil, and quickly get acclimated to the dry air and the slow, gritty hard courts in the desert.
Bonus for Djere
For Djere, who had not even entered the qualifying and is still alive in San Paulo after winning the Rio 500 event last week over Auger-Aliassime in the final, it’s bonus time.
Ranked No. 92 at the main-draw deadline, he’d still be about 10 spots out of making the main draw. without the wild card, the alternative would have been to just go back to Europe.
Both, by their current career-high rankings, would easily have made it in. No doubt that weighed in the balance.
Opelka, Young and Donaldson are in
The other players on the men’s side who received wild cards include Reilly Opelka, Donald Young (currently ranked No. 214) and Jared Donaldson.
Donaldson is currently ranked No. 129. But he’s just returned from a six-month injury layoff. Opelka, whose ranking is at a career-high No. 58 after his first career title at the New York Open, would have made it in easily with that ranking. But he earned his way in with his efforts in the Oracle Challenger Series.
Young, who was a semifinalist at the Newport Beach Challenger during the second week of the Australian Open, also earned his wild card that way.
Anisimova, Vickery and Andreescu straight in
On the women’s side, six Americans received main-draw wild cards.
Among them are 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open. But Anisimova hasn’t played much since then. Her only match was a retirement after seven games of the first set against Varvara Flink of Russia in the first round of Acapulco this week.
Sachia Vickery, Jennifer Brady (who is in the semis of the Oracle Challenger on site this week), Taylor Townsend and Madison Brengle are the other American recipients.
Jessica Pegula clinched one of the Oracle Series wild cards, and will make her second career appearance after qualifying all the way back in 2012, when she had just turned 18.
Another player who has had a great 2019 and whose current ranking would have allowed her to easily make the main draw is Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
The 18-year-old, currently ranked No. 71, is in the semifinals of the Acapulco WTA Tour event this week after being one of the last to make the main draw. She upset No. 4 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu and No. 7 seed Saisai Zheng and will face No. 5 seed Sofia Kenin Friday night.
Andreescu won the Oracle Challenger in Newport Beach last month. But as she’s not an American, she’s not eligible for the wild-card challenge.
Another wild card will go to the second-place finisher in the Oracle Challenger Series, still up for grabs.
Qualifying wild cards
For the women: Francesca Di Lorenzo, Allie Kiick and Catherine McNally received passes into the qualifying. Also in is Ashley Kratzer, the winner of the pre-qualifying tournament.
As well, 16-year-old Zoe Kruger of South Africa, who trains at the IMG Academy and is coached by Thomas Hogstedt, received a qualifying wild card. Hogtstedt and Indian wells tournament director Tommy Haas are very close; Hogstedt used to coach him. It’s all in who you know, sometimes.
There is one more women’s qualifying wild card to be announced.
For the men, Americans Christopher Eubanks, Marcos Giron, Mitchell Krueger and J.J. Wolf are into the qualifying. Evan Song, who won the pre-qualifying tournament, also receives a qualifying wild card.
Two match wins are needed to make the main draw.
The qualifying begins Monday, and the first-round main draw matches (the top 32 players have byes) begin Wednesday.