Daria Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka, two of the brightest young stars on the WTA Tour, have made significant steps in their development with their runs to the Indian Wells final.
They’re not the only up-and-comers who’ve made their presence felt at the tournament over the years. Here’s a look at five of them who’ve gone on to have a significant impact on the sport after defying expectations in the desert.
Serena Williams, 1999
The American won the second title of her young career in Indian Wells, defeating Steffi Graf in the final. Later in the year, Williams would capture her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.
Kristina Mladenovic, 2017
Coming off her first career singles title in St. Petersburg and a runner-up finish in Acapulco, Mladenovic’s strong start to the year continued in Indian Wells, where she reached the semis. Afterward, she became the No. 1 Frenchwoman for the first time at a career-high No. 18 in the world.
Angelique Kerber, 2012
Seeded 18th at the tournament, Kerber—who won her first career title only a few weeks prior in France—advanced to the semifinals in Indian Wells. She left the tournament with a No. 14 ranking, a new personal best.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 2009
The unseeded teenager from Russia punched a hole in the draw early on, knocking off Jelena Jankovic, the number-two seed, in the second round. She advanced to the semifinals, also beating number-seven seed Agnieszka Radwanska along the way.
Daniela Hantuchova, 2002
Entering the tournament ranked No. 25 in the world and seeded 18th, the teenager from the Czech Republic reached her first career final. In the championship match, she shocked the second seed and five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis in straight sets.
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