Indian Wells diary: Juan Martin del Potro's generosity and Simona Halep's humour

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Media day at a combined tournament is always a hectic affair as journalists sit down with the top eight seeds from each draw to catch up and hear their thoughts before the action begins.

On Wednesday at Indian Wells, we got to speak to most of the top seeds while keeping an eye on the women’s first round matches and men’s qualifying clashes that were taking place at the same time.

Players are typically relaxed when they’re still in pre-tournament mode and it also helps when you’re all hanging out at what is one of the most beautiful tennis events in the world. It’s hard to find a player, journalist or fan who doesn’t like to come to Indian Wells.

Several singles players choose to also play doubles here in the California desert to give themselves a chance to get used to the conditions with some extra match play. This year at Indian Wells, there’s a $1 million bonus for any player that sweeps both the singles and doubles titles, which is a very cool way to incentivise top singles stars to enter the doubles draw.

World No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro is partnering up with world No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov in doubles this week but when I asked him if he’s going for that $1m bonus, he laughed off the suggestion.

“No we love to play together. He’s a great guy, we have a good relationship and also it’s a good practice for us before a singles match. You never know what could happen but we’re playing just for our tennis and that’s the only reason,” said the 29-year-old Argentine.

When one reporter asked if he’d share the money with us if he won it, Del Potro swiftly replied: “It’s all yours.”

We may have to call him on that if it actually happens!

World No. 1 Simona Halep is also playing doubles this tournament, with fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.

“I heard, but it’s tough to think about it,” Halep said when asked if she knew about the bonus.

“It would be nice (to win it), we can go shopping me and my partner, so it’s going to be nice if it happens.”

Would she share her extra cash with the press?

“With the press corps? I was thinking to share it with my partner but I can buy some presents for you,” said Halep with a smile.

Jelena Ostapenko, who is playing doubles with her Latvian countrywoman Anastasija Sevastova, gave the best reaction when asked about the bonus.

“What bonus?” said the French Open champion. “I didn’t even know that. Really? Good to know.”

Meanwhile, Del Potro was quizzed about his continuous bad luck with draws as he once again fell into a tricky quarter that could see him face David Ferrer in the third round and a 10th-seeded Novak Djokovic in the fourth round.

“Always, that doesn’t change,” Del Potro said when told his draw was a tricky one. “That’s the draw I expected for sure.”

So does he typically look ahead when the draw comes out to see what it looks like?

“I don’t look too much but I always know I’m in the worst part of the draw,” he joked.

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