Serena Williams’ Top 10 Spot Under Threat Following Indian Wells Retirement - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams’ Top 10 Spot Under Threat Following Indian Wells Retirement

For the first time in more than three years, Williams was forced to retire during a competitive match.

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Serena Williams’ campaign at this year’s BNP Paribas Open has come to an abrupt halt after she was forced to retire from her third round match on Sunday.

The former world No.1 was taking on Garbine Muguruza but was forced to call it quits whilst trailing 3-6, 0-1. Williams was suffering from a virus and sought medical treatment during the match by having her blood pressure taken. Despite getting off to a solid start by racing to a 3-0 lead initially, the American looked fatigued on the court and at one stage about to faint.

“Before the match, I did not feel great, and then it just got worse with every second; extreme dizziness and extreme fatigue,” Williams said in a statement released by the tournament. “By the score, it might have looked like I started well, but I was not feeling at all well physically. I will focus on getting better and start preparing for Miami.”

In recent times a Williams retirement has been a rare occurrence. The last time she did so was against Jarmila Wolfe at the 2016 Hopman Cup due to a knee injury. On the WTA Tour, her last retirement occurred all the way back in 2014 at the Wuhan Open.

Muguruza, who is the only player to have defeated both of the Williams sisters in a grand slam final, admitted that she she felt ‘weird’ about their outcome of their match. The Spaniard has now levelled their head-to-head to 3-3.

“I don’t know. It’s really a weird feeling, because I don’t feel like I won the match point and (get the) well done, you know, good match (handshake). It was just like, Man, we’ll play next time. Yeah, I think I played well one set. I’m going to take the positive side of that.” She said.

As Williams bids to recover in time for the Miami Open, Muguruza will take on Kiki Bertens in the fourth round. Bertens edged out Johanna Konta 7-6(10), 6-4, during a closely fought match between the two.

Williams’ top 10 spot now in danger

As a result of her withdrawal, Williams is now at risk of exiting the top 10. One of her biggest threats comes in the shape of Ashleigh Barty. The Australian eased to a 6-3, 6-2, win over Jennifer Brady to set up a clash with Elina Svitolina. Barty is currently 11th in the live rankings. Should she progress to the quarter-finals, she will make her top 10 debut and kick Williams out of the group.

“I’ve played against Barty a couple of times. I know her game a little bit so I have to be ready, and I’ll try to recover for a tough one. Brady is playing really good tennis now, beating some top players. She can produce a very good match, so I’ll have to be ready for that as well.” wtatennis.com quoted Svitolina as saying about her upcoming match.

Should Barty crack the top 10, she would become the first Australian to do so for six years. Her current ranking best is 12th in the world.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Canadian star Bianca Andreescu continues her rise in the women’s game. The 18-year-old dropped only three games during her comprehensive 6-1, 6-2, win over Stephanie Voegele in less than an hour. Since the start of 2019, Andreescu has risen almost 50 places to a current ranking high of 60th.

“If someone would have told me I would have gone to the third fourth of this tournament at the beginning of the year, I would have said, You’re crazy.” The delighted Canadian told reporters afterwards.
“It’s just an incredible experience. This is one of the best tournaments in the world, so I’m just really, really happy.”

Andreescu will play China’s Wang Qiang in the last 16 on Tuesday.

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Angelique Kerber and Bianca Andreescu could meet again in Miami

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Last year’s Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber could meet 18-year-old Indian Canadian rising star Bianca Andreescu in the third round at the Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium in a possible re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final. Andreescu beat Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the Californian desert.

Kerber and Andreescu have been drawn in the top quarter of the draw and one of these players could meet Naomi Osaka in a blockbuster quarter final.

Andreescu claimed her maiden title in the Californian desert beating her German rival in three sets. Kerber praised Andreescu for her aggressive tennis in the Indian Wells final.

“After the first set I did my best to come back and but Bianca played good, especially in the third set. When she had her chances, she just went for it, putting the balls into the court. She deserved to win in the end, playing the whole tournament well. I know that I had to play my best tennis, although I was not able to take my chances, something she did. Her level was high already in Auckland, starting the year with the final and carrying that form here”, said Kerber.

At Indian Wells Kerber beat Yulia Putintseva, Natalya Vikhlyantseva, Aryna Sabalenka, Venus Williams and Belinda Bencic to advance to the 29th final of her career. Despite the defeat Kerber has remained positive about her successful week at Indian Wells and is confident ahead of her next tournament in Miami.

“For me the positive thing is that I played in the final, something I did not expect two weeks ago. That’s why I am happy about this tournament and that gives me a lot of confidence. In a few days we have another tournament and we all start again from zero. I was trying not to look too much on her side but she played well. Miami is the new chapter for all of us. There are different conditions and rivals and we willin the new venue. I am looking forward to going there”, said Kerber.

 

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Sloane Stephens out to defend her title at the Miami Open

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Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep, fresh Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber are in the spotlight at the Miami Open Main Draw.  

Naomi Osaka leads the top half of the draw, which also features three Grand Slam champions; Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki. Osaka won the first title of her career at Indian Wells in 2018 and beat Serena Williams in her opening match of last year’s edition of the Miami Open before losing to Elina Svitolina.

In this year’s edition of the Miami Open Osaka will open her campaign against a qualifier and could take on Hsieh-Su-Wei in the third round in a possible re-match of this year’s Australian Open third round match. In Melbourne the Japanese player came back from a set down to beat Hsieh-Su-Wei 5-7 6-4 6-1. Last week Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets in Indian Wells.

Osaka could face either Caroline Wozniacki or Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final clash against either Angelique Kerber or Aryna Sabalenka.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens lead the bottom half of the draw. The 2017 US Open champion has had a season of ups and downs with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses and lost in her opening round of Indian Wells against Stefanie Voegele, but the US player should not be underestimated. Last year she entered the Miami tournament with a negative 3-4 win-loss record and won her maiden Miami title. She continued her successful 2018 season with three finals at Roland Garros, Montreal and at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Stephens will start her defence against either Budapest champion Alyson Van Uytvanck or Ons Jabeur and could meet Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final against either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko (in a possible re-match of last year’s final). Pliskova could meet 2019 Dubai champion and Indian Wells semifinalist Belinda Bencic in the third round in a potential re-match of this year’s Indian Wells match.

Simona Halep leads the bottom half of the draw. The Romanian player will open her Miami campaign against Johanna Larsson an dcould meet either Daria Kasatkina in the third round or Lesla Tsurenko before a potential quarter final against either Serena Williams or last year’s WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina.

This year’s Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova has been drawn in the top half of the draw and will play against either Maria Sakkari or last year’s Moscow champion Olga Danilovic in her opening match before a possible third-round clash against Donna Vekic.

Fresh Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu will make her Miami Open debut against Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The winner of this match could clash against 20-year-old US player Sofia Kenin, who beat Andreescu in the recent Acapulco semifinal. Andreescu could face Kerber in the third round in a potential re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final.

In one of the most interesting first round matches former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka will face 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominica Cibulkova, who reached the semifinal in Miami in 2014.

Mari Osaka, the elder sister of Naomi Osaka, was awarded a wild card for the 2019 Miami Open and will make her first appearance in a main draw and will play against Whitney Osuigwe.

There is no clear favourites in Miami after a very unpredictable start to the season in the first three months with 13 different champions in the first 13 WTA tournaments of the year. Three players aged 21 or younger Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu won the biggest titles this season lifting the trophies respectively at the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells.

The Miami Open will be held for the first time in the Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the American Football team Miami Dolphins.

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Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka beat Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova to clinch their maiden title in Indian Wells

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Unseeded doubles team formed by Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka cruised past top seeds and 2018 Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-2 to lift their maiden title at the BNP Paribas WTA Premier Mandatory at Indian Wells.

Mertens and Sabalenka took a re-match against Krejikova and Siniakova, who won their previous head-to-head match in the third round at the 2019 Australian Open.

After both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games Mertens and Sabalenka got another break in the eighth game and held their service game at 15 to seal the first set 6-3 with three consecutive winning games.

Mertens and Sabalenka broke twice in the fifth and seventh games and saved all six break points they faced to close out the second set 6-2.

“I think that was on our mind, but not really the result. We were there as one team, as it came out great. In Australia we still had to figure out, first time together and already playing three sets against those top seeds. I felt there is really potential in a doubles team”,said Mertens.

“I think we were playing quick and don’t really give opponents time to do opponents”,said Sabalenka.

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