BNP Paribas Open 2013: Hewitt, Oudin highlight Thursday play

Scott Barbour

Marcel Granollers, Heather Watson, and Laura Robson also in action in first round of California tour stop.

The men's tournament begins in earnest Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif. After two days of qualifying, the field of 96 competitors is set, with $5 million in prize money on the line.

The top 32 seeds in the field receive byes to the second round, so the two-day first round will be played out between unseeded players. The top-rated unseeded player in the field, Marcel Granollers, faces a difficult test Thursday against veteran David Nalbandian. Fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, ranked 34th in the world entering this week's tournament, will take on qualifier Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. Marcos Baghdatis will be in action against German Daniel Brands. Former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt will take center stage in the afternoon session's final match against Lukas Rozol. American Ryan Harrison will face Go Soeda in the evening's last match.

On the women's side of the draw, the first round comes to a close with 16 matches. Heather Watson, the highest-rated player in the first round, starts her tournament against Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu. Fellow Brit Laura Robson, whose fourth-round run highlighted the first week of last year's U.S. Open, opens with a tricky match against 49th-rated Sofia Arvidsson. Bojana Jovanovski closes the afternoon on Stadium Court 3 against qualifier Garbine Muguruza. American Melanie Oudin plays the evening's prime time match against 18-year-old wild card qualifier Madison Keys.

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