Indian Wells

Article by Vincent Cognet for L’Equipe, translated by Tennis Buzz.

Moved from La Quinta to Indian Wells in 1987, the first Masters 1000 of the season settled definitely at the Tennis Garden in March 2000. The cost rose to $ 77 million. But the tournament really took a decisive course when Larry Ellison bought it in 2009.

According to Forbes magazine the fortune of the septuagenarian, who just won the America’s Cup with Oracle, weighs a whopping $ 43 billion, which would make him the fifth richest man in the world .
Ellison has at once the space, money and ambition to realize his dream of competing with the Grand Slams and clearly establish his toy as the fifth tournament on the circuit .

Two examples suffice to give an idea of the phenomenon:
– 9 courts are now equipped with the Hawk Eye at Indian Wells Tennis Garden (against four at Wimbledon for example).
– the brand new stadium 2 (built in 10 months and 10 days for an estimated cost of more than $ 70 million) proudly announces a capacity of 8000 seats.
Taken together, the three main courts and stadium can accommodate 30,300 spectators.
To do the job properly, Ellison has also built 3 more restaurants. Officially, nothing specific is planned for 2015. But it would be extremely surprising that it stays that way.

Photo by Aitor Agirregabiria

Indian Wells

Legendary tennis commentator Bud Collins explains how unique the atmosphere is at Indian Wells. Interview by Vincent Cognet for L’Equipe, translated by Tennis Buzz.

Q: You knew this tournament long before it moved to Indian Wells. What are your memories of those years?
It was already a good tournament but it moved often. And all the best ones were not always there, unlike today, but those who had loved it because it is one of the most beautiful places in our country. (Former tournament director) Charlie Pasarell had to fight because it was planned to move the tournament to China. But this tournament has always been relaxed, almost family at a time.

Q: The weather is also really cool
Not always! Sometimes it blew a terrible wind. One year, the press tent flew away. Between us we thought it was Richard Nixon who did it! Moreover, the final was not held that year.
Another year, Jimmy Connors and Roscoe Tanner had reached the final, but the wind was so violent that it was impossible to play. Both players refused to enter the court until NBC, the tournament broadcaster, decided to bang its fists on the table. Connors and Tanner did not say anything and played the final.
I also remember a year, it must have been in 1974, where the referee could not make the draw, he threw the coin up into the air but it never fell down, because there was so much wind! It was completely insane.

Q: What do you think of Larry Ellison, the owner of the tournament?
He is a very discreet, private person. And he loves tennis, he also has a private coach, a former pro who never really made it to the next level. He seems to do quite well racquet in hand.

Q: Do you think players are more relaxed here than on the rest of the circuit?
Absolutely! Players are different. They do not feel persecuted or spied. At Indian Wells everyone mixes with everyone. It has always been the desire of Pasarell, players owe him a lot.

Photo by Rick, find out more pics of Indian Wells 2011 here.