INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - A prequalifying tournament that will give anyone the opportunity to earn entry into the BNP Paribas Open field begins today.
Between the men and women, the prequalifying tournament includes a record 145 entries, according to tournament director Steve Simon.
Action in the first round of the five-round event starts at 9 a.m. on the women's side at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Men begin play at 10:30 a.m. in an event that lasts through Sunday.
One singles winner in each bracket will earn a spot into the qualifying tournament, which runs March 7-9. Once there, they will have the opportunity to fight their way into the main draw.
Mark Philippoussis, who once attained a No. 8 world ranking, was expected to be an opponent in the qualifying tournament, but he has pulled out of the event, ESPN reported Tuesday. Rather than play in the Coachella Valley, Philippoussis will compete next week in tournament in Switzerland.
Nearly all of the top players on the men's and women's tours will take part in the Paribas Open, including No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Roger Federer. On the women's side, No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 2 Kim Clijsters and No. 3 Vera Zvonareva will compete.