Thursday’s day schedule felt rather subdued with the two landmark matches at night (and rightfully so) featuring Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Therefore I spent much of my evening flicking between matches as nothing really grabbed me. Read on for Thursday’s stories from the 2018 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. For a preview of Friday’s matches, click HERE.
Cirstea turns the tables on Niculescu
2017, Indian Wells R1: Niculescu d. Cirstea, 4-6 6-3 6-1
2018, Indian Wells R1: Cirstea d. Niculescu, 6-2 6-3
Cirstea had the perfect tactics to play Niculescu as she was aggressive and constantly looked to come forward. She was dancing to victory leading 6-2 5-0 but seemed to lose confidence from a few misses up at the net. Cirstea’s game went careering off into the abyss for a time. The 27-year-old managed to steady herself to serve out the match at the second time of asking. All in all, a good win for Cirstea who gets Venus Williams in R2. Interesting…
Puig rallies past Haddad Maia
Monica Puig came from 2-5 down in the second set to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia in straight sets, 6-3 7-6(3). I had BHM in my draw and was surprised by the result. Puig was the much more consistent player against a very erratic BHM. The highlight of the second set tiebreak was Puig’s defence at 4-3 as she somehow managed to retrieve a BHM smash and find the baseline.
Wickmayer heading back towards the top 100
Yanina Wickmayer scored her first WTA main draw win of 2018 with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over the American wildcard, Kayla Day. I’ve been really impressed with Day before but not so much on this outing. The young American was very defensive (so far behind the baseline) and ultimately couldn’t handle Wickmayer’s power.
It’s nice to see Wickmayer winning some matches again on the WTA tour. The Belgian player won a $25K ITF in February and seems to be benefiting from playing last week’s Oracle Challenger at Indian Wells as this was her third win of the tournament having coming through qualifying.
Barthel through to R2
After a rough spell of form that saw her win just three matches out of 15, Mona Barthel seems to have turned a corner from recent results. Aside from seven double faults, Barthel looked in fine form as she blasted winners past a surprisingly lacking-in-intensity, Veronica Cepede Royg. It was a clean close as Barthel won 6-2 6-1 in 71 minutes.
Vikhlyantseva’s first WTA main draw win of 2018
Natalia Vikhlyantseva is fast becoming a favourite of mine to watch. While her level went up and down on Thursday, there were pockets of gorgeous hitting as she defeated fellow compatriot, Vera Zvonareva, 6-3 6-2 for a first WTA main draw win of 2018.
Bellis set up R2 showdown against IW reigning champ
I only caught a few games as CiCi Bellis looked in excellent form during a 6-0 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo. A cracking hot shot is linked below from the start of the second set. Bellis next gets Elena Vesnina. This is a really tough opener for Vesnina and with the added pressure of defending all those points.
While I was sleeping…
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka both won their opening round matches in straight sets. It’s fantastic to see both of them back on court. Vibes on Twitter were positive for Serena and Azarenka looked pretty strong early doors in the brief glimpses I saw of her match against Heather Watson. I’ll try and catch some highlights later!
WTA highlights packages 👍
I do love to moan… credit though to the WTA for the improvement to their match highlights on YouTube. There’s almost six minutes for the highlights of Maria Sharapova vs. Naomi Osaka from Wednesday.