Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells: Cirstea, Puig, Barthel & Bellis all through to R2

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.

@wta photo shoot 📸🎾💥

A post shared by Natalia Vikhlyantseva (@nataliavikhlyantseva) on

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.

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3 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells: Cirstea, Puig, Barthel & Bellis all through to R2

  1. Serena looked GOOD. The serve in particular has lost none of its effectiveness. The movement was better than I expected based on fed cup and tie break tens, her footwork wasn’t too bad and she hung in some of the longer rallies. Her groundstrokes were the biggest surprise. Such power and depth!
    The only real negative was that she was very pumped up and some of that adrenaline spilled into nerves at times. She had a lot of wasted break points in set 1 and let go of her break advantage a couple times in set 2. But that’s nothing that match play won’t fix.

    Like

  2. Azarenka played much better than I expected after her long absence from the game, but still needs match play to fine tune her game.

    Vicka is much thinner and more fit than before her time off——-At the same time I have become fatter—
    I am not sure if there is a direct connection between the two developments.

    Liked by 1 person

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