By J. Fred Sidhu
The top tennis professionals in the world, including many of the best South American stars, will make their way to Indian Wells to play in the Pacific Life Open, which gets underway on Monday, March 8 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Gustavo Kuerten, the 2003 men’s finalist, headlines a long list of South American players who have entered this year’s tournament.
Argentina will be well represented in Indian Wells with a dozen players scheduled to play, including David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria, who are both ranked in the world’s top 10.
Coria, who ended 2003 ranked fifth in the world, is making his second career appearance in Indian Wells. Last week he captured the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires with an impressive 6-4, 6-1 victory over Spain’s Carlos Moya in the final.
Ecuador’s Nicolas Lapentti, a former semifinalist in Indian Wells, is entered in the main draw. His younger brother, Giovanni Lapentti, will attempt to reach the main draw through the qualifying tournament.
Marcelo Rios, who was once ranked number one in the world, won the Indian Wells tournament in 1998. The Chilean from Santiago, now in the twilight of his tennis career, is ranked 154. He is entered in this year’s qualifying draw.
Argentina’s Paola Suarez and Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia highlight the list of South American women entered in the 2004 Pacific Life Open.
Suarez is the top-ranked doubles player in the world, but has shown the tennis world she can also play singles as she is currently ranked 13th in the singles rankings.
Zuluaga gave eventual champion Kim Clijsters a tough match in the second round of last year’s Pacific Life Open before falling, 6-3, 7-5, to the Belgian. Zuluaga, who reached the semifinals at this year’s Australian Open, is ranked 25th in the world and is looking to make a strong run at the women’s title this year.
South Americans Scheduled to Play in The Pacific Life Open
Paola Suarez - Women’s main draw
Mariana Diaz-Oliva - Women’s qualifying
Clarisa Fernandez - Women’s qualifying
Agustin Calleri - Men’s main draw
Guillermo Canas - Men’s main draw
Juan Ignacio Chela - Men’s main draw
Guillermo Coria - Men’s main draw
Gaston Gaudio - Men’s main draw
David Nalbandian - Men’s main draw
Mariano Zabaleta - Men’s main draw
Jose Acasuso - Men’s qualifying
Mariano Puerta - Men’s qualifying
Gustavo Kuerten - Men’s main draw
Flavio Saretta - Men’s main draw
Nicolas Massu - Men’s main draw
Marcelo Rios - Men’s qualifying
Fabiola Zuluaga - Women’s main draw
Nicolas Lapentti - Men’s main draw
Giovanni Lapentti - Men’s qualifying
Luis Horna - Men’s main draw
Maria Vento-Kabchi - Women’s main draw
Pacific Life Open
March 8 through March 21
Indian Wells Tennis Garden
78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells
$14-$66, parking $7, series tickets available
(800) 999-1585 or (760) 200-8000
Directions to Indian Wells from San Diego: Go north on Interstate 15, north on state Route 215, east on state Route 60, east on Interstate 10 to Palm Springs; continue east on I-10 to the Washington Street exit; go south on Washington Street; go west on Miles Avenue to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden parking lot.