WTA IW: Serena Williams wins her first match at Indian Wells since 2001 - UBITENNIS
Connect with us


WTA IW: Serena Williams wins her first match at Indian Wells since 2001



TENNIS WTA IW – Serena Williams made an emotional return to Indian Wells after 14 years of absence with a 7-5 7-5 win over Monica Niculescu. Diego Sampaolo

Serena Williams made an emotional return to Indian Wells after 14 years of absence with a 7-5 7-5 win over Monica Niculescu. Niculescu provided a stiff challenge. Niculescu did not hit any aces in the whole match but she won 68 percent of her first serve points. However Serena prevailed in straight set thanks to her 13 aces.

It was an emotional day for Serena who received a standing ovation when she walked onto the Centre Court. Emotions affected Serena in the early stages of the match. Niculescu, who had never beaten a top-five player in her career, started better and opened up a 2-0 lead in the first set. Williams dropped two of her first four service games in the first set. At 3-5 for Niculescu the US legend held her first serve to love and got the break clawing her way back into the match. Serena had to save two break points in the 11th game but she managed to hold serve. Niculescu made a costly error at 40-40 and dropped the first set. Serena was broken early in the second set but she broke back immediately. The second set went on serve when Serena broke serve before clinching the win with 7-5 on her fourth match point.

I feel really good. I feel like the nerves have gone away. I feel better. I was a little nervous. The weeks leading up were nerve-wracking. I am good that I was able to do it. I just wasn’t able to get through that match. It was a super tricky one for me”, said Williams

Simona Halep rallied from a second down to beat Daria Gavrilova 2-6 6-1 6-2. Halep got the first break of the match in the third game of the first set after Gavrilova made two double faults and two backhand errors. Halep started committing too many unforced errors and dropped five consecutive games to drop the first set with 6-2. The second set started with a series of breaks but Halep was more solid on serve and drew level with a 6-1 win forcing the match to the decider. Halep committed four double faults at the start of the third set but she managed to hold serve. Halep broke serve and cruised to 6-2 to advance to the next round.

Heather Watson beat Camila Giorgi 7-5 7-5. The Italian committed 18 double faults and 54 unforced errors. Giorgi broke serve in the fourth game of the opening set but she committed three double faults at 3-2 enabling Watson to break back. Watson dropped serve again in the next game to go down 3-4. Giorgi committed two double faults and a forehand error to drop her serve for 4-all. At 6-5 for Watson, Giorgi made her 10th double fault and Watson converted her set point to clinch the first set with 7-5.

Watson cruised to 5-0 in the second set after a series of double faults from Giorgi. The Italian broke her losing streak of seven consecutive games by holding her serve. Giorgi clawed her way into the match by drawing level to 5-5 but she committed three errors with her return to drop the 11th game. Giorgi committed two unforced errors and another double fault to drop the final game of the match.

Agnieszka Radwanska eased past Allison Riske with 6-3 6-1. Radwanska won the first five games of the match to open up a 5-0 lead. Riske saved a set point to hold her serve for the first time in the match. Riske broke serve but Radwanska closed out the first set on the third set point. Radwanska broke serve early in the second set and opened up a 4-0 lead before closing out the match with 6-1.

Sloane Stephens beat Angelique Kerber 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. Kerber went up a break twice in the first set to lead 3-0 and 5-3 but Stephens forced the set to the tie-break. Kerber saved two set points but dropped the tie-break with 6-8. Stephens, who hit 37 winners in the match, won the second set easily with 6-2.

Garbine Muguruza came back from a set down to edge Irina Falconi in three sets with 4-6 6-2 6-3. After a first set marked by seven breaks Falconi got the decisive break in the ninth game. Muguruza saved three set points but dropped the first set with 6-4. Muguruza won 82 percent of her first serve points and clinched the second set with 6-2. Falconi won just 25 percent of her second serve points. Muguruza won the third set with 6-3 setting up an intriguing third round match against Karolina Pliskova.

Ekaterina Makarova cruised past her doubles partner Elena Vesnina with 6-4 6-0. Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova beat Barbora Strycova Zahlavova with a double 6-3

World Number 11 Lucie Safarova, who won her first Premier-level tournament in Doha, beat Mona Barthel 6-4 7-6 (7-4). Safarova got the decisive break in the fourth game to win the first set There were more breaks in the second set where Barthel took the lead with 2-1. Safarova broke back in the next game to open up a 4-2 lead. Barthel forced the second set to the tie-break after a series of errors from the Czech player. Safarova won the most crucial points in the tie-break and won it with 7-4 to set up her next match against Elena Svitolina.

Latest news

Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan



Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

Continue Reading


Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open



Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

Continue Reading


Ons Jabeur Hoping For Better Fortunes In Doha Despite Injury Concerns



Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur is optimistic that she will be ready in time to play at her next event in Doha after suffering an emotional exit from Dubai on Friday. 

The two-time Wimbledon finalist was in tears during her straight sets loss to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals. Jabeur later revealed that her emotional reaction was linked to the reoccurrence of a knee injury in recent days which has troubled her in the past. She said the pain can differ at various tournaments but in Dubai, it was causing her significant discomfort. 

“I’m an open book, an emotional person. I like to show myself. One thing I have learned is to accept the emotion, and if I try to hide it, it will not make me feel good,” Jabeur told reporters in Doha at a pre-tournament press conference. 
“So it’s good to let it out and be done with it than to keep it inside and probably will make more problems for you later.”

Despite the setback, the world No.6 intends to play at the Doha Open which gets underway today. She will be the fourth seed in this year’s draw and will be playing in the event for the first time since 2022. Last year she was forced to skip the Middle East swing after having surgery to treat an enlarged nodule which was obstructing her airway and preventing oxygen from reaching her lungs. 

“I’m very happy to be back. I’m obviously happier than last year,” she said. “I’m glad to be united with my fans here, and hopefully it’s going be a great week for me.
“I have been struggling with the knee for a long time, and last week was very, very tough. Hopefully, I can recover in time and then play better here in Doha.”  

This time of the year has always meant a lot to the Tunisian, who has spoken on numerous occasions about her aim to inspire more players from her region to take up tennis. She is the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final, crack the top 10 in the WTA rankings and qualify for the season-ending Tour Finals. 

“It is very important to be here to connect with Arabic crowds. I feel so much love here in the region, and obviously, that’s one of the reasons I chose to play Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai, because I feel so good here.” She said.

Declaring she is ‘happy’ with her rhythm on the court, Jabeur will begin her campaign in Doha against either Lesia Tsurenko or Turkish wild card Zeynep Sonmez.

Continue Reading