When and Where: The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., runs through until Sunday, March 18. Play begins on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET. Live streaming is available online via ESPN3. Coverage is also available on TV on The Tennis Channel. If you're in the U.K., a live stream is available on SkyGo. Live streaming coverage is also provided on the tournament Web site.
Tournament Update: Combining both ATP and WTA tours, the tournament in Indian Wells is one of the most anticipated of the year, for players and fans alike, outside of the four majors.
The competition is beginning to grow in intensity with both men's and women's draws currently at the quarter-final stage.
The biggest upset in the California desert so far has arguably been the stomach virus that has swept through the locker room and claimed the victims of several competitors. At least eight players been stricken by the bug, including Gael Monfils, Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Roger Federer has also been affected, but has been able to successfully play through the symptoms.
In terms of the on-court action, the biggest surprise in the early rounds was the elimination of Andy Murray at the hands of Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. It was the second year in succession that the world No. 4 had lost in his first match in Indian Wells.
Perhaps in reality the defeat was not all that much of a shock. Though currently ranked at 92, Garcia-Lopez has recently been as high as 23 in the world and certainly there is little suggestion that the Brit will suffer the same post-Australian Open blues that wrecked his spring in 2011.
Elsewhere, the world's top three are all into the quarters. In arguably the most intriguing match of the tournament so far Federer held-of the challenge of Canadian rising star Milos Raonic in three sets,
In the women's draw one semi-final is already decided with world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who has continued her imperious start to the year, set to take on last year's surprise US Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber.
The most interesting contest of the women's draw so far involved a battle of the former World No. 1's Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki. Ivanovic, who has endured a torrid time since rising to the top of the game after winning the French Open in 2008, looked like she might finally be returning to her best after a 6-3, 6-2 win.
Thursday Preview: The top half of the men's quarter-finals will take place on Thursday with American interest invested in John Isner, who has progressed to the last-eight without the loss of a set. He will be tested, though, against the counter-puncher Giles Simon. In the other last-eight match, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on Nicolas Almagro.
Thursday will also see the second of the women's semi-finals be decided. The first contest of the day sees the resurgent Ivanovic go up against world No. 8 Marion Bartoli. While the Serbian impressed in her last match, it will count for little if she is unable to back it up in a challenging encounter against the former Wimbledon runner-up.
The other quarter-final features fellow-Russians and close-friends Maria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova has been in good form early in 2012 and has the World No. 1 ranking in her sights once more.
Thursday Predictions: Although it took three sets for Djokovic to dispose of Pablo Andujar in the last round he should have far too much to overcome a spirited challenge by Almagro. In Thursday's other men's match-up, giant American Isner is playing at a high level right now and should over power Simon as he attempts to break into the world's top 10.
On the women's side, Kirilenko has given Sharapova problems in the past, claiming two victories in the pair's four matches. The three-time major winner is firing on all cylinders right now, though, and should have too much for Kirilenko to handle. Don't be surprised if three sets are required, however.
The day's opening contest offers up a repeat of last year's quarter final. On that occasion, Bartoli got the better of Ivanovic. But, while it is still too early to claim that the Serban is back following her stirring win over Wozniacki, she should edge Bartoli in what could be another tightly-fought encounter.