The rain halted play at night on day 4 of main draw action in Indian Wells… the rain?! The match of the day featuring Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka didn’t take to the court. It was another eventful day and generally a more successful one for the seeds with 10 of the 14 seeds in action progressing to the third round. Read on for Saturday’s Set Points with nine stories.
Another one to watch… Sofya Zhuk!
The 18-year-old, Sofya Zhuk bagged a first top 20 win over Magdalena Rybarikova to advance to the third round of Indian Wells and double her number of WTA main draw wins to two. In the most astonishing game of the day, Zhuk missed 11 (!) match points serving for the match at *5-4 in the third set. The Russian player hit errors on 10 of those match points as she became increasingly desperate by the end of the game. In a surprising turn of events, Zhuk would go on to win eight of the next nine points and finally convert on her 12th match point for a 6-3 2-6 7-5 victory.
I was mega impressed with Zhuk’s display of character and ability to reset after all those missed opportunities. I think many more experienced players would have collapsed with the pressure. Listen below to Zhuk’s reaction to how the match unfolded in a video posted by Reem Abulleil. This was my first time fully watching Zhuk in action and she’s yet another one to watch!
Collins stuns Keys
There have been so many career best wins this week. The 24-year-old, Danielle Collins took out the number 15 seed and fellow compatriot, Madison Keys, 6-3 7-6(1). Keys twice failed to serve out the second set and played a shocker of a tiebreak with six errors. Just not a good day at the office for Keys. Credit to Collins for a very committed display. Next up is Zhuk in the third round – what a huge opportunity for both players.
Serena sets up R3 clash with Venus
It almost feels like she has never been away. Serena Williams recovered from a 3-5 first set deficit and needed two attempts to serve out the match against Kiki Bertens, 7-6(5) 7-5. Bertens went toe-to-toe with Williams from the baseline but her serve, particularly first serve percentage, let her down in the key moments. I think Serena’s level in her comeback has been very impressive, considering the circumstances. Next up is a monumental third round clash against sister, Venus. Monday’s night session?
Svitolina beats Barthel
Elina Svitolina overcame a subdued start to defeat Mona Barthel, 6-4 6-3. This was a high quality match and Barthel seems to be heading in the right direction. Svitolina was just a bit more solid in all departments. I was surprised to see Svitolina go for a few serve and volleys! On the whole I thought it was a very positive display from Svitolina who was comfortable coming forward and not afraid to go down-the-line.
Kasatkina’s confidence on the up
Daria Kasatkina advanced via a retirement by Katerina Siniakova whilst leading 6-2 5-2. The Czech player took a medical time-out for a leg injury during the second set. Siniakova has this ability to hit crushing winners out of literally nowhere. However, she still seems to spend a lot of time fighting her emotions and clearly she was feeling her leg on this occasion.
Kasatkina was very impressive and had an assuredness about her game. She looked much more confident in her groundstrokes than normal, perhaps after her recent run to the final in Dubai. The serve was key in the first set with a high percentage of first serves in play.
Vesnina rallies past Bellis
From a set down, the defending champion made an excellent start to her title defence. Elena Vesnina beat the 18-year-old, CiCi Bellis, 2-6 6-1 6-1. Bellis stormed through the opener, helped out by a string of errors on the backhand side from Vesnina. The Russian player tidied up her game in a big way through the last two sets as she became increasingly aggressive and dictated with the forehand. The scoreline in the third set was perhaps a touch harsh on Bellis. Vesnina won the last six games of the match including the three games that went to deuce.
Vesnina’s draw won’t get any easier as she plays either Angelique Kerber or doubles partner, Ekaterina Makarova in the third round. Makarova leads by a set with the match to resume on Sunday following the rain.
Get well soon, Shelby
It’s been a tough start to the season for Shelby Rogers who has played just two matches in 2018 due to injury. In an Instagram post, Shelby revealed she picked up a knee injury in her first round match in Indian Wells and will need some time to recover. Fingers crossed she will be OK for her home tournament in Charleston!
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This has been a very tough year for me so far and unfortunately, is continuing that way. I injured my knee during my match and will need some time to heal and rehab. I really appreciate all of the kind, uplifting words and support through these challenging moments. I love this game and will do everything I can to get back to being healthy, strong, and ready to compete💖🎾
The next name to confirm for the Birmingham Classic is…
Madison Keys. The American joins Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta in already a strong line-up. Selfishly, i’m disappointed as it probably reduces the chances of Keys playing Eastbourne!
Rebecca Marino’s story
Watch this. Marino is 19-1 in her comeback on the ITF tour where she has already won three titles. Rooting for Rebecca all the way.
Sunday’s Sweeping Preview
A preview of Sunday’s third round matches is up on the blog including Kvitova-Anismova and Sabalenka-Vondrousova. Azarenka-Stephens will also be on the schedule (see preview HERE) second match on Stadium 2.