Indian Wells: Serena Williams drawn with Halep. Sharapova with Ivanovic - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: Serena Williams drawn with Halep. Sharapova with Ivanovic



TENNIS INDIAN WELLS – The Main Draw Ceremony for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the first WTA Premier Mandatory Tournament of the Year, took place on Monday. The tournament in the Californian desert will feature 18 of the best 20 players in the WTA Ranking. The only top-20 players who will not feature in the 96-strong draw are Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova. Venus’s younger sister Serena will make her her much-awaited return to Indian Wells after 14 years of absence. The star-studded field features Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki and rising stars like Madison Keys, Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza who made a major impact this year. The possible quarter finals could be Williams-Makarova, Halep-Radwanska, Bouchard- Wozniacki and Ivanovic-Sharapova. Diego Sampaolo

Serena Williams, who recently won her 19th Grand Slam title last January at the Australian Open, has accepted a wild card and will make her comeback to the Indian Wells after a 13 year-old boycott. She won this tournament in 1999 and 2001. Serena had vowed not to return to Indian Wells after being booed in 2001. She had to play the semifinal against Venus who withdrew from the tournament due to a knee injury. Serena was booed while she was playing the final against Kim Clijsters. Serena’s father said that he heard racial slurs in the crowd.

Serena will make her debut against the winner of the match between Monica Niculescu and Aleksandra Krunic before facing a possible third round match against Zarina Diyas and a Round-of 16 match against Svetlana Kuznetsova or Angelique Kerber or Sloane Stephens. Serena lost 4 of her 18 matches against these three players. On hard-court Serena was beaten by Kuznetsova in Cincinnati in 2012 and by Stephens at the 2013 Australian Open. However, their form has been shaky in the recent months. Kerber has won just two matches since the Australian Open and Stephens won just two matches in the whole season.

Serena could face a very tough match in the quarter finals against Ekaterina Makarova, who reached two consecutive Grand Slam semifinals at the US Open and the Australian Open. Makarova beat the US legend in Melbourne in 2012 but lost their last two head-to-head matches. Before the possible clash against Serena, Makarova could face a second round match against her doubles partner Elena Vesnina and a third-round clash against Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, who won two consecutive titles on Mexican soil in Acapulco and Monterrey beating Caroline Garcia after two hard-fought battles and has moved up to World Number 26, and a fourth-round against Lucie Safarova, who won her most prestigious tournament in Doha.

Serena is projected to meet Simona Halep in the semifinal and Maria Sharapova in the final (in a possible re-match of this year’s Australian Open final).

In the second quarter last year’s Indian Wells semifinalist Simona Halep could meet Agnieszka Radwanska in a possible quarter final that could be a re-match of last year’s semifinal won by the Polish player. Radwanska, who lost last year’s final in Indian Wells against Flavia Pennetta, could face Mirjana Lucic Baroni in the second round and Camila Giorgi in the third round. The Italian, who will open against the winner of the match between Julia Georges and Heather Watson, won her only head-to-head match against Radwanska in Beijing 2012. Radwanska has had a win-loss record of 2-4 in her six matches since the Australian Open.

Halep, who was forced to withdraw from Doha because of a rib injury, could face a very tough Round of 16 match against the winner of the third-round match between Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova, two of the most interesting rising stars of the circuit who could square off against in the third round. Pliskova reached two WTA Premier finals in Sydney and Dubai. Pliskova won her last head-to-head match against Muguruza in the Dubai semifinal. Another interesting match in this section of the draw could be played between Carla Suarez Navarro (finalist in Antwerp) and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

The most prominent name in the third quarter of the draw is Number 4 seed and 2011 Indian Wells winner Caroline Wozniacki who will face Kaia Kanepi in the second round and Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic. Wozniacki, who won the Kuala Lumpur title last week, could face 2010 Indian Wells champion and last year’s quarter finalist Jelena Jankovic. Wozniacki could meet this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys in the Round of 16 and Eugenie Bouchard in the quarter finals.

Keys will take on Daniela Hantuchova in the second round.

Bouchard, finalist at Wimbledon and twice semifinalist at the Australian Open and the Roland Garros in 2014, lost her only match since the Australian Open against Mona Barthel in Antwerp. The most interesting match in this section of the draw could be played between Alizé Cornet and Andrea Petkovic who could meet in the third round.

The fourth quarter of the draw features Maria Sharapova (twice winner at Indian Wells in 2006 and 2013) who could take on Karin Knapp. Sharapova, who finished runner-up at the Australian Open and boasts a 15-1 record in 2015, won their previous two head-to-head matches but won a hard-fought third set with 10-8 after saving three match points at the 2014 Australian Open. Sharapova could face a blockbuster third round against 2012 Indian Wells champion Viktoria Azarenka who recently reached the final in Doha after being sidelined for most of 2014 because of an injury. Vika leads 7-6 but she is 6-1 in their previous hard-court matches but Masha won their last clash on this surface at the 2012 WTA Finals.

In the Round of 16 Masha could meet Indian Wells defending champion Flavia Pennetta who will have to overcome the winner of the match between Madison Brengle and Sasai Zheng in the second round and either Bethanie Mattek Sands or Tiffany Townsend. Pennetta recently reached the quarter finals at Dubai on hard-court. Pennetta and Sharapova tied 2-2 in their four previous four matches but the Italian player won their two previous matches in Los Angeles and New York.

Sharapova may renew her rivalry against Ana Ivanovic in a blockbuster quarter final match. The two glamorous stars played some of the best matches of 2014 in Stuttgart, Rome and Cincinnati. The Serbian player could renew her battle against this year’s Acapulco and Monterrey Caroline Garcia in the second round in a re-match of last week’s Monterrey semifinal won by the French player before possibly meeting Sara Errani (semifinalist in Monterrey last week) in the Round of 16. Errani could face two potential all-Italian matches against Francesca Schiavone in the second round and Roberta Vinci in the third round.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities



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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.



(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.


Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.


The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.


No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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