Svetlana Kuznetsova was the first player into the quarter-finals of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals with a routine victory over Caroline Garcia, 6-1 6-4, on a lifeless Stadium 1 court. Kuznetsova hadn’t played a match in over a month before Indian Wells but she’s shown few signs of rust so far in the desert, reaching the quarter-finals of this tournament for the first time since 2008.
Kuznetsova was superb in the first set, dropping just seven points and breaking Garcia in every one of her service games. I was convinced this was going three sets even after the first set because Sveta… she had a blip at the start of the second set as she seemed to forget how to serve on the deuce side with four double faults as Garcia finally broke through on a fifth break point. Kuznetsova broke straight back in the next game.
It took Garcia until her sixth service game to get a hold on the board – while Kuznetsova has been prone to walkabouts, she was very secure in this match and kept the pressure on with some solid serving. She was also helped out by Garcia’s poor returning which continues to be a weakness with her stubbornness to take it so aggressively. The Frenchwoman’s tactics also remained patchy at times as a drop shot into the net gifted Kuznetsova the chance to serve it out – while the Russian player produced a sloppy game trying to serve it out, her return was awesome all match and she promptly broke for the win.
Like Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is enjoying her best run at Indian Wells in quite a while. Pavlyuchenkova hadn’t made it past the third round since her very first appearance in the desert back in 2009 when she reached the semi-finals. The Russian player halted a run of three straight losses to Dominika Cibulkova, overcoming a passive second set to win, 6-4 3-6 6-2.
From 1-3 down in the first set, Pavs produced a superb set of tennis – her serve was on the money and as Cibulkova backed off, Pavlyuchenkova dictated proceedings with some sharp groundstrokes, notably off the backhand wing. Cibulkova, who had a medical time-out for a hip injury at the start of the second set, raised her intensity to win the second set, but Pavs regained control in the third set. Cibulkova was surprisingly error-strewn and Pavs wrapped up the win with back-to-back return winners.
I’ve never seen this happen before… Pavs nearly took out a bird with a serve!
Venus Williams came from a set down to beat the in-form, Peng Shuai, 3-6 6-1 6-3. I stayed up for the first set where Venus was hitting with a lot of power and aggression but kept missing the baseline as Peng Shuai’s consistency won through. The Chinese player saved a break point at *3-2 with a tremendous on-the-run backhand winner down-the-line. Venus tidied up her game to secure another come-from-behind victory.
A tearful Timea Bacsinszky was forced to retire down 1-5 in the first set against Karolina Pliskova with a left wrist injury.
Excuse me while I sob in the corner… get well soon, Timea!
The scheduling was a shocker for me personally on Tuesday with half of the matches late so while I was asleep…
Garbiñe Muguruza ended Elina Svitolina’s 15 match winning streak with a lopsided three set win, 7-6(5) 1-6 6-0.
In a battle of in-form 2017 players, Kristina Mladenovic defeated Lauren Davis in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.
Elena Vesnina upset the number two seed, Angelique Kerber, 6-3 6-3. Vesnina is building another great year while Kerber’s lack of form continues to be a concern.
And finally, I was awake (sleep evades me) for the last match of the day as Caroline Wozniacki produced a smart display to beat Madison Keys, 6-4 6-4. The Dane once again targeted the Keys backhand and produced a solid mental display, front-running the match with confidence as Keys committed too many errors into the net. Still, an excellent first week back for Keys and hopefully the wrist held up without pain.
Here is Keys’s press conference after her third round win over Naomi Osaka where she talked about that particular match and her time off from the wrist injury. I always enjoy Madison’s press conferences and I love her sense of humour.
The first two quarter-finals are up on Wednesday…
Svetlana Kuznetsova v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2nd match on Stadium 1 at NB 1pm local time) – Kuznetsova leads the H2H, 5-3 but Pavs has won their last two, both this year and in straights. I was impressed with both players on Tuesday. Not a clue who wins this one – Pavs had lost three times in a row to Cibulkova before winning on Tuesday so I don’t read too much into Pavlyuchenkova’s recent wins over Kuznetsova.
Karolina Pliskova v Garbiñe Muguruza (5th match on Stadium 1 at NB 7pm local time) – Pliskova has won their last five matches and is looking so secure right now. Muguruza had a great win over Svitolina, her second top ten win of the year, but she’ll have to adjust to different conditions in her first night match. Everything points to a Pliskova win so you know Muguruza will take it 😂