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Tennis Tuesday: Successful Start For Serena

The action continues at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells as Serena Williams made a winning return to the tournament after a 14-year absence. 

Indian Wells Roundup

Serena Williams defeated Monica Niculescu 7-5, 7-5 in her first match at Indian Wells in 14 years. The World No.1 has not played at the tournament since 1999 when she was jeered by the crowd during her final win.

Williams was given a standing ovation as she walked out onto Stadium 1 court for her second round match. The emotions seemed to affect her, as she made a slow start, trailing 2-0. Williams soon got herself together to triumph, in a little over two hours.

Serena looked more comfortable in the third round match as she lost just two games to Zarina Diyas. Williams was a comprehensive winner as she demolished Diyas 6-2, 6-0.

It was an emotional time for Simona Halep as well – but for another reason. After her second round victory over Daria Gavrilova, Halep dedicated her win to her cousin, following his recent death.

“It’s really tough to speak about this situation,” she told the WTA website. “It’s a painful situation for everyone, for me and my family.”

The Romanian looked out of sorts at the start, losing the first set 2-6, but she rallied to take the match 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Halep is now into the fourth round after beating Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in the third on Sunday night.

Eugenie Bouchard marched into the last 16 as she defeated Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2 in 65 minutes. Bouchard broke her opponent’s serve three times and saved a breakpoint on her own.

The 21-year-old looked back to her best after a forearm injury hampered her practice. The Canadian has stated that her goal for this tournament is to reach the quarter-finals. Standing in her way is Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko.

Heather Watson notched up her first victory over a top 10 player after she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 in the third round. Watson had not beaten Radwanska, or even won a set, in their three previous meetings.

“I knew I was going to have to bring my A-game and play my very best and that’s what I did,” she said afterwards.

She broke the Pole’s serve five times and produced a top-quality performance. Up next for the Brit is No.12 seed, Carla Suarez Navarro.

Belinda Bencic achieved the biggest win of her career so far, taking out the World No.5 Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. Bencic defeated Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4.

The 18-year-old got the breaks late in both sets and pounced whenever Wozniacki’s form dipped. It has been a tough year for the Swiss who had won just one match in her first four WTA tournaments. It seems like the desert air at Indian Wells has breathed new life into her season.


Novak Djokovic defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5 6-3 for a place in the fourth round.

Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal wasted little time in booking their places in the third round at Indian Wells on Sunday night. Federer, hoping for a record fifth title, defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 in over an hour.

“I think I did very well,” he said in the courtside interview. “It just tried to stay focused and stay aggressive on returns.”

Three-time Indian Wells champion Nadal demolished Igor Sijsling 6-4, 6-2. The Spaniard lost just seven points in his service games and faced one breakpoint. Nadal will face fellow lefty, Donald Young in the next round after the American overcame Jeremy Chardy.

It wasn’t a good day at the office for Stan Wawrinka however. The Swiss was beaten by Robin Haase 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the second round.

Wawrinka is the first big name casualty in the men’s draw. Haase went into the match with a 0-6 head-to-head record against Wawrinka but took advantage of a lacklustre performance from his opponent. It will be Haase’s first appearance in the third round at the tournament.

It was an exciting battle between Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday as spectators were treated to a glimpse of the future.

Dimitrov edged his Aussie opponent in three sets 7-6, 3-6, 7-6. The Bulgarian was the better of the two, sending down 16 aces, 47 winners and winning 83 percent of his serve. The drama kicked up a notch after Kygrios jammed his ankle on a breakpoint in the third set. Kygrios hobbled his way through to force a tiebreak. However, it was not enough as he dropped serve twice to give Dimitrov the advantage.


Oudin Might Need Second Heart Operation

Melanie Oudin has said that her heart issues have returned, delaying her return to tennis. Oudin posted a photo on Twitter of a heart monitor strapped to her chest with a sad face caption.

She also said that she might have to undergo another heart operation. Oudin first underwent a procedure last year to correct a form of arrhythmia.

However, the ‘heart episodes’ (as she calls them) have come back. The American has not played on the WTA Tour since September. She won her first and only title in 2010 when she shocked Jelena Jankovic in the Aegon Classic final in Birmingham.


Serena and Sascha Part Ways

Serena Williams and her long-time hitting partner, Sascha Bajin have parted ways. Bajin has been a fixture in Team Serena for nearly eight years. Williams has referred to Bajin as,

“more than a hitting partner […] he’s family.”

Sascha is now working with former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka. He joins Wim Fissette on the Belarussian’s team.


Jonas Bjorkman To Join Team Murray on Trial 

Jonas Bjorkman has joined Andy Murray’s team on a trial basis. Since the departure of Dani Valleverdu last year, Murray has been looking for someone to work alongside his coach, Amelie Mauresmo. Bjorkman will spend a week with Murray this month with a view to joining the team on a permanent basis.

With Mauresmo only committed for 25 weeks a year, Murray needs another coach to fill in. Bjorkman, who won a career Grand Slam in men’s doubles, retired in 2008 but has stayed involved in tennis, working behind the scenes at the Bastad and Stockholm Opens.

Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.