Indian Wells Daily Preview: Former Champions Iga Swiatek and Bianca Andreescu Meet in the Third Round - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Former Champions Iga Swiatek and Bianca Andreescu Meet in the Third Round

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Iga Swiatek practicing this past week at Indian Wells (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

Third round singles action concludes on Monday in tennis paradise.

The schedule is headlined by yet another meeting of WTA Major singles champions this fortnight, and two former champions of this event, as 2019 champ Bianca Andreescu faces 2022 champ Iga Swiatek.  That will begin the evening session on Stadium 1, while an interesting encounter between British favorite Andy Murray and British newcomer Jack Draper will begin the evening session on Stadium 2. 

Monday’s Order of Play also boasts many other compelling singles matchups, featuring names like Carlos Alcaraz, Ons Jabeur, and Stan Wawrinka.  And in doubles, the top seeds in both the men’s and women’s draws face teams made up of noteworthy singles players.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Bianca Andreescu (32) – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 1

Since the start of 2022, Swiatek is now 80-12, with nine titles.  She’s the defending champion at this event, and in her opening match against Claire Liu, dropped only one game. 

Andreescu’s phenomenal 2019 season started in earnest at this tournament, when she upset Angelique Kerber in the final.  But she is yet to come anywhere close to her 2019 level since injuries prevented her from playing at all in 2020.  Bianca is off to a modest 6-5 start this year, and battled past American wild card Peyton Stearns in three sets on Saturday.

Their only previous meeting occurred last May in Rome on clay, where Swiatek prevailed in straight sets.  Andreescu is a much more dangerous threat on hard courts, especially in North America.  However, Iga still must be favored based on both players’ recent form.


Jack Draper vs. Andy Murray – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 2

Murray has been the most exciting tennis player to watch in 2023.  After his thrilling five-set victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis in Melbourne, he reached the final in Doha by winning four consecutive three-setters.  Andy is 8-3 this season, easily his best start to a season since 2017.

Draper is a fellow Brit, but is 15 years younger than Murray.  The 21-year-old broke out last year by winning 46 matches at all levels, which included four Challenger titles on hard courts.  He is 6-3 in 2023, and did not drop a set in two matches this past week at Indian Wells.

Jack’s huge serve and aggressive style could create trouble for Andy on Monday.  However, playing such a respected figure from your own country is never an easy task.  And based on Murray’s current level of confidence, I like Andy’s chances to prevail in their first meeting in tour.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Leylah Fernandez (30) vs. Caroline Garcia (5) – Garcia was in superb form to end 2022, and she’s a strong 16-6 to start 2023, having reached two finals since the Australian Open.  Fernandez’s 2022 was disrupted by the foot injury she suffered at Roland Garros, and she’s yet to play her best tennis since.  This past January in Melbourne, Caroline defeated Leylah in a tight two-setter.

Hubert Hurkacz (9) vs. Tommy Paul (17) – Hurkacz is 13-5 this year, and was the champion a few weeks ago in Marseille.  Paul is coming off his first Major semifinal in Melbourne, and followed that up by advancing to the final in Acapulco.  Hubi beat Tommy in straight sets at the 2021 Paris Masters.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Paula Badosa (21) – Rybakina is 11-4 on the season, and took out Sofia Kenin after two tight sets on Saturday.  Badosa arrived at Indian Wells on a three-match losing streak, and had to pull out of the Australian Open due to injury.  But she is 4-1 against Rybakina at all levels.

Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Holger Rune (7) – Rune defeated Wawrinka in a third-set tiebreak at the Paris Masters, after saving three match points.  Stan scolded the teenager at the net after the match, as he did not appreciate Holger’s behavior during the match, calling him a “baby.”

Ons Jabeur (4) vs. Marketa Vondrousova – This is a rematch from January’s Australian Open, when Vondrousova upset a less-than-100% Jabeur in three sets.  Ons claimed their other two recent tour-level meetings.

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (1) vs. Frances Tiafoe and Stan Wawrinka (PR) – Koolhof and Skupski won seven titles as a team in 2022, and are 8-5 to start 2023.  This is Tiafoe and Wawrinka’s first tournament as a team since January of 2020, and they received a walkover in the first round.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) vs. Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townend (WC) – Krejcikova and Siniakova have won the last four Majors they’ve entered as a team, including this year’s Aussie Open.  This is the first time Fernandez and Townsend have partnered together.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Tallon Griekspoor (31) – Alcaraz looked sharp in his opening round, easily dispatching of Thanasi Kokkinakis.  Griekspoor is 13-4 this year, having won a title in Pune and reached a semifinal in Rotterdam.  Last summer at Wimbledon, Alcaraz overcame Griekspoor in straight sets.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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