Stosur Beats Out Jankovic
In this night session between former champions at Charleston, 6th seed Samantha Stosur met former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. This match was a replay of the 2010 Roland Garros semifinal, this time on green clay. Stosur was given a bye in the first round, whereas Jankovic defeated Alexandrova 6-0 6-4. Jankovic came out with a heavily taped thigh and Stosur immediately took notice. Among her many long sliced backhands, she mixed in a drop shot in almost every other rally. This tactic worked brilliantly, and the Australian took the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes. Beginning of the second set, Jankovic learned to anticipate Stosur’s drop shots, and dominated the game from the baseline. Jankovic also took advantage of her signature shot- backhand down the line. Jankovic took a lead of 3-1, but Stosur started to play her game again and Jankovic slowly fell apart, getting angry with herself, the umpire and everyone else. Stosur won 6-1 6-3 and advances to the Round of 16 against 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu or Kristina Kucova.
Blast From The Past
34 year-old Anastasia Rodionova has prolonged her surprise singles run in Charleston by one more, defeating Ying-Ying Duan of China 7-6(3) 6-1. The former World No. 62 has played very few singles matches and become more of a doubles specialist in the recent years. Despite her low ranking, Rodionova was well known, actually notorious for her on-court antics and behavior towards other players. This was the third qualifying event Rodionova has entered this year, getting a 1-2 record before Charleston. She defeated seeded opponents in Sachia Vickery and Sesil Karatantcheva, getting through in straight sets. Now she is through to the 2nd round in Charleston, set to face Former World No. 5 Sara Errani. In May, the Australian will celebrate the 20th anniversary since turning pro, and this might be her last notable run at the WTA level in singles.
Dark Day For Americans
Out of the 9 Americans that stepped on court today, only 2 came out victorious, the most notable loser being 14th seed Lauren Davis. Davis has had a great year so far, getting her first title in Auckland, reaching quarterfinals at both Doha and Dubai, and most recently Round of 16 at Indian Wells. This is combined with some lows, like her first round losses at Australian Open and Miami to Samantha Crawford and Varvara Lepchenko. In Charleston, Davis lost to Maria Sakkari of Greece, 5-7 4-6.
Charleston native Shelby Rogers managed to grind out a win for the home crowd against the qualifier Victoria Cepede Royg. The match was interrupted yesterday by the rain, and Cepede Royg came out of the gates stronger today. The Paraguayan developed a lead of 5-1, which was then taken back by Rogers and the first set headed to a tiebreak. The American made several unforced errors on the return, costing her the set. Rogers then found a way to outplay Cepede Royg, and she was up 6-7(1) 6-3 5-1, and it seemed all over. Suddenly, all of Cepede Royg’s flat shots starting to go in, and she managed to put up an incredible fight. Rogers served for the match three times, failing all of them. Match came down to a tiebreak, which was on an incredibly high level, especially for two players outside of the Top 50. Rogers won the tiebreak 8-6, advancing to the second round after 2 hour and 42 minutes.
In an all-American derby, wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated qualifer Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-4 in a battle of generations. Kenin was up a break in the second set, and overall showed great promise for the future. Mattek-Sands now set up a match with her doubles partner and good friend Lucie Safarova.
Varvara Lepchenko tried to beat 15th seed Lucie Safarova, and made the Czech come up with her best game to beat her after 2 hours and 52 minutes. Lepchenko took an odd 10 minute off-court break between the second and third set, which particularly baffled Tennis Channel commentator Tracy Austin, who called out for a rule restricting off-court breaks between sets. Safarova came out of this battle of lefties 7-5 6-7(6) 6-3 and will face Mattek-Sands.
Qualifier and birthday girl Asia Muhammad didn’t give herself the ideal gift today as she lost to Hungarian teenager Fanny Stollar 3-6 5-7. With a similar scoreline exited Jennifer Brady, who lost to Mona Barthel 5-7 4-6.
20 year-old Louisa Chirico most likely entered Charleston with an injury, as she lost 9 straight games before retiring to Annika Beck at 0-6 0-3. Lucky loser Grace Min didn’t take advantage of this opportunity as she lost 1-6 1-6 in little over an hour to Sara Errani of Italy. However, this is a slight improvement for the American, as in their last meeting, Errani won 6-1 6-0.
In other results, 3 of the remaining 4 seeds advanced, 12th seed Yulia Putintseva being the one who lost. It was an awkward situation, as Putintseva was up 4-0 in the final set before the rain delay. Today, she lost six straight games to Magda Linette, subsequently opting out of the post-match handshake. The head-to-head now goes to 3-0 for Linette, despite their large gap in ranking. 13th seed Shuai Zhang took care of business against Misaki Doi on the green clay, winning 6-2 6-1. In a meeting of two players who are still finding their form in 2017, 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu went 6-0 6-0 over Cagla Buyukakcay, making her record 3-9 this year. Buyukakcay is still winless, now falling to 0-11 counting Fed Cup. She is also going to defend her title in Istanbul, so it doesn’t look good for the Turkish No. 1. 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni outlasted qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in three sets 6-1 4-6 6-3, making their head-to-head 1-2.
Unseeded Daria Kasatkina got a good start to her tournament, beating Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2. In the longest match of the day, Slovakian Kristina Kucova outlasted qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa 5-7 7-5 7-6(2) after 3 hours and 10 minutes. Kucova will face 10th seed Begu next.
Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round
It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.
Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.
The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.
“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.
After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.
At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.
The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.
Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.
Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.
It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.
The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.
After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.
“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.
Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.
Bianca Andreescu Begins Indian Wells Title Defense With Rollercoaster win
The Canadian began her title defense from 2019 with a three-set win over her American opponent.
Reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is into the third round after a epic two-hour and 48 battle with Alison Riske which she eventually won 7-6, 5-7, 6-2.
” I’m very happy to be back and I felt all the emotions coming back here to Indian Wells, especially stepping on this court and it honestly feels awesome”. Said Andreescu.
The Toronto native fired 30 winners in a match that went back and forth in the last match on Stadium court.
The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian with the first two chances of the match to break and she was able to get the first break of serve in the match but failed to consolidate and Riske broke back the following game.
Andreescu had another chance at 3-3 but was snuffed by the world number 51 and the first set was decided by a tiebreaker. In that breaker, the number 16 seed jumped out to a 4-2 lead which was enough to take the first set.
After holding in her opening service game the Canadian had three chances for an early break in the second set but the American was able to save all three and held serve.
At 2-1, the world number 21 had two more chances and with a return winner on double break point she took a 3-1 lead and this time was able to consolidate the break and hold serve.
At 4-2, the world number 51 attempted a comeback and after earning two breakpoints of her own broke back to put the set back on serve but at 5-4 the Canadian had two match points but the American saved both.
At 5-5, Riske had two more breakpoints and managed to get the crucial break of serve and serve out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.
The number 16 seed was keen on getting the early lead in the third set and she did just that to take a 2-0 lead and at 4-1 managed to turn her break into a double break and served out the match.
After the match in her on-court interview, Andreescu was asked what had happened in the second set and how she was able to respond in the third set.
” She played very well, I honestly had no idea what happened and she picked up her level while I kinda stayed the same,” she said. “Then I had to refocus for the third set and I had to change my tactics a little bit and it helped”.
Andreescu is now lifetime 8-0 in Indian Wells dating back to 2019 when she won and is still the current defending champion. She will take that record into her next match where she will face Anett Kontaveit.
Aryna Sabalenka Out Of Indian Wells After Positive COVID Test
Sabalenka is the latest player to be ruled out of a tournament after testing positive for the virus.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka says she is ‘looking OK’ after confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Belarussian was set to be the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells which will get underway next week after Ash Barty withdrew from the draw. It is not known as to if Sabalenka is currently experiencing any symptoms at present or when exactly she tested positive for the virus. She hasn’t played on the Tour since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month.
“Unfortunately I’ve tested positive at Indian Wells and won’t be able to compete,” Sabalenka wrote in an Instagram story.
“I’ve started my isolation and I’ll be staying here until I’m cleared by the doctors and health officials.
“So far I’m looking OK but really sad to not be able to play this year.”
It is unclear if the 23-year-old has received a COVID vaccination after she previously expressed caution over receiving one. During the Miami Open in March Sabalenka told reporters she was concerned about how quickly the vaccine has been produced and the effects it might have on her body.
“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” she said. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”
In recent months tennis’ governing bodies have been urging their players to get vaccinated but some such as Sabalenka are still hesitant. On the other hand, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has previously called for the vaccine to be made mandatory on the Tour.
So far this season Sabalenka has achieved a win-loss record of 42-14 and has reached the semi-finals at her two most recent Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). She has won two titles in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season and then Madrid in May. Sabalenka also reached the final of another tournament in Stuttgart.
Replacing Sabalenka as the top seed in Indian Wells will be Karolina Pliskova who is a two-time semi-finalist in the tournament.
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