Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells Day 1: Hot shot wins for Flipkens & Niculescu

Set PointsI’ll be doing a series of Set Points posts this tournament to bring together all the action at Indian Wells. Each day, i’ll start with the matches that I got to watch, followed by what happened when I was asleep.

The first main draw winner of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open was Heather Watson, who fought back from a set down to beat American wildcard, Nicole Gibbs, 4-6 6-2 6-2. Whenever I tuned in during the first set, Watson seemed to be hitting long or wide. She improved significantly in the second and third sets, finding her range in the quirky conditions with her serve holding up.

Gibbs lost her cool after getting broken serving at *2-3 in the decider. Perhaps defending her R4 points from last year was on her mind? Sadly she’ll drop outside of the world’s top 100 after this loss. It was an up-and-down match with a handful of superb points including a solid match point from Watson.

Monica Niculescu also came from a set down to beat a rapidly tiring, Sorana Cirstea, 4-6 6-3 6-1.  Cirstea’s positivity, particularly on return, won her the first set, but she faded fast from midway in the second set as Niculescu became more solid behind both her serve and groundstrokes. While I admired the consistent tactical approach from Cirstea to come forward, the way to beat Niculescu IMO, she missed practically everything up at the net in the third set.

Niculescu hit a dreamyyy forehand slice winner in the second set which you can see at the link below…

My stream for Ostapenko-Kovinic was working in the first set but mysteriously vanished after that which was a shame because the third set sounded eventful to say the least! Both players failed to serve out the match – Kovinic at *5-3 and Ostapenko at *6-5, before Ostapenko nicked the win in the third set tiebreak, 6-4 2-6 7-6(3). I really feel for Kovinic who has now lost her last six matches on tour.

In a really enjoyable clash of styles, Kirsten Flipkens rallied from a set down to beat CiCi Bellis, 4-6 6-1 6-4. Bellis had shown great composure to serve out the first set but Flipkens delivered some smart play in the final two sets, using her slice to great effect to get shorter balls to then dictate with the forehand. A learning experience for Bellis…

The highlight was a bonkers point in the first set that Flipkens sealed with a quick dash and a cracking winner down-the-line. Point of the day and perhaps of the tournament – it will be a tough one to beat!

While I was sleeping…

Louisa Chirico scored her first win of 2017, beating qualifier, Francesca Schiavone, 6-3 6-3

Belinda Bencic, all kitted out in Nike, won her first match on the WTA tour in 2017, securing a fourth consecutive win over Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-4 6-1.

17-year-old, Kayla Day had an excellent straight sets win over Kurumi Nara, 6-3 6-4. This was Day’s fourth top 100 win of her career.

Kristyna Pliskova looked in great form, dispatching Bethanie Mattek-Sands for the loss of just three games, 6-0 6-3.

Sara Errani held on for a tough three set win over Mandy Minella, 1-6 6-4 7-5. This was only Errani’s second win of 2017.

Wednesday’s OMG scoreline saw Evgeniya Rodina thrash Christina McHale, 6-1 6-0. Rather strangely, Rodina had also scored 6-1 and 6-0 sets in their only previous match in Tianjin, winning that particular match in three sets, 6-1 5-7 6-0.

And finally, Madison Brengle enioyed a first ever win over Tatjana Maria, 6-4 6-2. Maria had won all four previous encounters.

The big news on Monday was the withdrawal of Serena Williams from not only Indian Wells, but also Miami due to a knee injury. I was particularly surprised about the withdrawal from Miami since it is Serena’s home tournament and it isn’t for another two weeks.

It was nice to see Sloane Stephens is in Indian Wells. Thanks to LaWanda (an awesome follow on Twitter!) for posting a video from the Draw Ceremony. Sloane said that she is hoping to return to the tour around Wimbledon time…

I enjoyed these golf cart catch-ups with Timea Bacsinszky and Barbora Strycova – it’s great to hear more from players that don’t often make All-Access Hour but are super engaging to listen to.

In case you missed it, Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia are no more as a doubles pair. This is perhaps not a surprise after Mladenovic’s words after Fed Cup, even though they proved not to be about her partner. Garcia announced on Twitter that she would be playing less doubles – she did play doubles in Indian Wells though with Karolina Pliskova, losing their first match on Wednesday. Mladenovic will pair up with Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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And finally, Happy Birthday Petra for yesterday! I actually had a dream about Petra last night that she won her first tournament back 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells Day 1: Hot shot wins for Flipkens & Niculescu

  1. I would be super happy if Kuznetsova and Mladenovic paired full time in doubles!
    Sveta has really backed off playing doubles the past few years in order to give more to her singles career, but I think she could accomplish more in doubles than she can in singles at this point…

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  2. Enjoyed the golf cart interviews, just girls being girls. Love the internet, didn’t know what sashimi was,,,,,, what, RAW MEAT!!!…I’ll just have the mashed potatoes. Nice seeing all the girls going out to dinner together.

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  3. Changing of the Guard. WTA back court defenders(BCD) usually disappear when they hit the Big 3-0. BCDs depend on foot speed, high energy level and good racquet control to compete with the big 6′ bashers. When the BCDs hit 30yo they lose a step in speed, their energy level drops and the frequency of injuries increases. Star players hitting 30, or over, in the next 3 years- Kerber,Radwanska,Cibulkova,Wozniacki,Kuznetova,Vesina,Safarova,Stosur,Strycova,CSN, Vivci,Cornet,Jankovic,Flipkens- plus the Willians sisters will be about 40-and most will probably disappear(including many of my favorites).

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  4. I watched the Kirsten Flipkens/ CiCi Bellis match and enjoyed it even though the tennis was not of the highest standard but that Flipkens winner down-the-line was excellent and will be hard to beat as ‘ shot of the tournament ‘. CiCi Bellis plays a tennis style that I like to watch and has a lot of potential.

    I’ll probably be wrong but I think that Flipkens has a reasonably good chance of defeating Muguruza who is not in good form and has a poor record here. Great to see Belinda winning again. I’ve only seen a few clips of her match but she did look fitter than she has been in the last few months. Next match for her looks a toughie though.

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    • I really enjoyed the mix of styles in the Flipkens-Bellis match. I’ve gone for Muguruza in 3, I have a similar feeling to you that Flipkens will be a handful, the head-to-head is 2-2. Great to see BB back to winning ways 🙂

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