The 2008 Australian Open champions Novak Djokovic (No. 3) and Maria Sharapova (No. 5), finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 18) and Ana Ivanovic (No. 2), and semifinalists Roger Federer (No. 1), Rafael Nadal (No. 2), Daniela Hantuchova (No. 9), and Jelena Jankovic (No. 4) will headline the fields of the Pacific Life Open, to be held March 10-23, 2008 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. In addition to these stars, Americans Andy Roddick (No. 6), James Blake (No. 9), and new mother and six-time Pacific Life Open champion Lindsay Davenport, will also be part of the first major tennis event of the season on U.S. soil, it was announced today by tournament director Steve Simon.
This past weekend Djokovic captured his first major title by winning the Australian Open. The Serbian star began to make his name known last year with a finals appearance at the Pacific Life Open. In 2007 he added five titles to his resume, reached the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon, and the finals of the US Open. Sharapova, who captured her first Pacific Life Open title in 2006, started the 2008 season in magnificent fashion by winning the third major title of her career at the Australian Open. The former World No. 1, who will only turn 21 this April, has already captured 17 titles in her short career on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (SEWTA Tour). In 2007 she captured a title at San Diego, reached the semifinals of the French Open and the finals of the Australian Open and Tour Championships.
Tsonga, an up-and-coming French star, had an incredible run at the Australian Open, where he defeated 2007 Pacific Life Open semifinalist Andy Murray (No. 12), 2007 Wimbledon semifinalist Richard Gasquet (No. 7), talented Russian Mikhail Youhzny (No. 8) and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal (all of these players will be in the Pacific Life Open field) before falling in the finals to Djokovic. Ivanovic, another young Serbian, burst onto the scene last year and had incredible results. She won three tournaments at Berlin, Los Angeles and Luxembourg and reached the finals of the French Open. By reaching the finals of the first Grand Slam of the year, she climbed to career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world.
Federer, a three-time Pacific Life Open champion (2004-2006), fell in the semifinals of the Australian Open, but he continued his march toward becoming the best tennis player in history. In 2007 he won eight titles, including three Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open) and the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. It was the second consecutive year that he won three of the four Grand Slams, bringing his career total to 12, and the fourth consecutive year he finished with the No. 1 ranking in the world.
The defending Pacific Life Open champions, Nadal and Hantuchova, both enjoyed terrific seasons in 2007 and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open to start their 2008 campaigns. The World No. 2 ranked player for the past three seasons, Nadal captured his third consecutive French Open title last year and also set a record with an astounding 81-match clay-court winning streak (ended by Federer in Hamburg). Hantuchova added a second whale trophy to her collection this past March (first was in 2002) when she won the Pacific Life Open title, and the victory propelled her to another title at Linz and a top-ten ranking for the second time in her career. Jankovic, also an Australian Open semifinalist, won four titles in 2007at Auckland, Charleston, Rome and Birmingham en route to her highest career ranking of No. 3 in the world.
Roddick, who was a semifinalist at last year's Pacific Life Open, had a terrific season in 2007 capturing titles at London and Washington, reaching the quarterfinals or better in three of the four Grand Slams, and along with Blake, lead the US team to its first Davis Cup title since 1995. Blake, who just a few years ago suffered injuries that threatened to derail his career, had another great season in 2007, claiming his ninth and tenth ATP titles. He started 2008 by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
The all-time leading money winner in SEWTA Tour history, Lindsay Davenport, took a break from the circuit for less than a year to give birth to her first child, Jagger Jonathan. She picked up where she left off by winning three of the first four tournaments she entered since the fall of 2007. Her first win was at Quebec City, then Bali, and finally the first tournament of 2008 at Auckland. The Southern California resident, who is a 54-time singles and 36-time doubles champion on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, has had incredible success at the Pacific Life Open since first competing in 1993. She won singles titles in 1997 and 2000 and doubles titles in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003.
Other ATP and SEWTA Tour stars that will again return to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden include two-time Pacific Life Open champion Lleyton Hewitt (No. 20), 2007 US Open and Pacific Life Open finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 3), two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo (No. 18), 2004 Australian Open champion Marat Safin and his sister Dinara Safina (No. 16), Argentine superstar David Nalbandian (No. 10), 2004 US Open and 2006 Pacific Life Open finalist Elena Dementieva (No. 11), 2007 Australian Open semifinalist Nicole Vaidisova (No. 12), 2007 US Open semifinalist David Ferrer (No. 5), Russians Nikolay Davydenko (No. 4) and Mikhail Youhzny (No. 8).