Hello to all! It’s been a while since I posted as I have been on a blogging hiatus since the Australian Open. This is because I just moved into my new house earlier this month 🏠 . Boxes are all unpacked, heating is *now* working and it’s starting to feel like home 🙂. There’s still plenty to sort out but I feel back to some sense of normality and am both eager and excited to resume blogging for Indian Wells. I’ve been keeping up with the tennis from afar, watching bits and bobs from Doha and Dubai. I’m a bit rusty so bear with while I get back up to speed. Read on for 5 stories in Tuesday’s Set Points post including highlights from last night’s draw in Indian Wells.
Indian Wells draw – Initial reaction
The Indian Wells draw has moved me much more than the Australian Open draw did. There are a handful of blockbuster sections where attention will be focused for the first week of the tournament. Here are five things that stood out to me…
- The defending champion and world number one, Naomi Osaka tops the draw in Indian Wells. Osaka will play either Zheng Saisai or Kristina Mladenovic in the second round, the latter defeated her in Dubai in straight sets just two weeks ago. Whether Mladenovic actually makes it to the second round is questionable as the Frenchwoman has been very inconsistent so far this year, winning just two singles matches all year.
- Petra Kvitova will open her campaign at Indian Wells against Venus Williams or Andrea Petkovic. The Petra-Venus head-to-head is one of my favourites on tour and rarely fails to deliver – their six previous matches have ALL gone the distance. Petkovic leads the head-to-head against Kvitova so either way, it’s going to be a tricky opener for the Czech player.
- The highlight from this draw is a stunning section featuring Serena Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka. Serena and Vika could meet in the second round with Garbiñe potentially waiting in the last 32. Brutal!
- Last week’s final in Acapulco between Wang Yafan and Sofia Kenin, both first time titlists in 2019, is a first round match in Indian Wells! Wang Yafan won 7-5 in the decider so Kenin will be out for a slice of revenge.
- My favourite first round match features Dayana Yastremska up against Daria Gavrilova. The Aussie has lost her last seven matches, while Yastremska continues to rise up the rankings. I’m also looking forward to Zhang Shuai vs. Viktoria Kuzmova and the battle of Alisons, Alison Riske vs. Alison Van Uytvanck.
I’m going to sit down with this draw tonight and make some picks 😄.
Doha and Dubai
Doha and Dubai saw unseeded winners in Elise Mertens and Belinda Bencic respectively. Both were surprises and did it in style by racking up a series of top ten wins. Bencic’s run in Dubai was particularly joyful after all the injuries that she has battled over the past few years. I was taken aback with how sharp and aggressive she was. I really enjoyed her third round win over Aryna Sabalenka (where she saved six match points), and the end of her semi-final win over Elina Svitolina was equally gripping.
Farewell, New Haven 👋
Sad to hear the news that the New Haven tournament is no more.
The coaching carousel goes round and round…
There’s been quite a few shocking coaching splits in the last month. Naomi Osaka split with Sascha Bajin in mid-February which I didn’t believe at first. Daria Kasatkina has also parted ways with Philippe Dehaes and paid tribute to him in a touching Instagram post. I thought Dasha played better in February compared to her matches from Australia but is still clearly struggling for confidence. Defending final points from Indian Wells last year will no doubt create some additional pressure.
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It is with sadness that I am announcing that myself and Philippe Dehaes are parting ways after a very successful partnership. I owe Philippe a huge amount for the success I've had over the past two years since we started working together but after deciding I need to take control and responsibility for my own tennis, I felt I needed to do this alone and take a break from working with Philippe but as he has a family and children to support, I understand this is not possible for him and it's best we go our separate way. Who knows what the future holds, never say never. I'd just like to go on record as saying thank you again to Philippe, you'll always mean a lot to me and I wish you the very best. Thanks for everything coach, you will always have a special place in my heart. Gonna miss yours on court coachings and all the song you’ve been singing in the car. Dashka💜
Gutted for Ana Konjuh who has had such rotten luck with injuries. Fingers crossed that this latest surgery will sort out the elbow!