The first round concluded in Indian Wells on Thursday with opening matches from the top half. I couldn’t get excited about any of Thursday’s matches and am not enjoying tennis on these slow courts. I’m really hoping Miami courts might be a bit faster this year! Friday’s line-up in Indian Wells looks much more enticing as the seeds finally come out to play. Read on for five stories in Thursday’s Set Points post.
Putintseva eases past Babos
Yulia Putintseva secured her first WTA main draw win since the Australian Open with a routine 6-1 6-3 victory over Timea Babos. The first set was a walk in the park for a patient Poots as Babos tried to be aggressive but made too many unforced errors and was wasteful with opportunities at the net. Babos twice went up a break in the second set but was unable to consolidate. Putintseva used her variety to great effect and produced a delightful drop shot return to break at 3-3. Poots was clearly impressed as she tried to gee up the crowd! Putintseva won the last five games of the match to win in one hour and 23 minutes.
Since reaching the final of Monterrey last year, Babos has really struggled in singles with just seven wins from her last 31 matches. I feel like this surface suits Putintseva so i’m intrigued to see what she can do against Angelique Kerber in the second round. Kerber didn’t look convincing in either Doha or Dubai, and i’ve never felt like the conditions in Indian Wells suit her game as she tends to prefer a faster surface. The pair haven’t played in nearly nine years!
Venus battles past Petkovic
Venus Williams produced a typically battling display to see off Andrea Petkovic in three scrappy sets, 6-4 0-6 6-3. Venus had the trainer and doctor on leading 5-4 in the first set. Despite winning the opener from a break down, Venus was clearly not feeling well in the second set as Petkovic powered through the second set. Venus rallied in the decider with renewed energy and aggression to score a gutsy win. Not feeling her best almost seemed to focus Venus in being aggressive in the decider.
Next up for Venus is Petra Kvitova – excited about this one! The Venus-Petra match-up has always been one of my favourites. All six of their previous matches have gone three sets. Kvitova leads the head-to-head, 4-2.
Flipkens hot shot
A contender for shot of the year? Stunning from Kirsten Flipkens.
The seeds come out to play on Friday with the bottom half of the draw in action. The stand-out match is no doubt between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Vika seems to be improving after a disappointing January. I’d still go for Serena in this one because the American tends to brings her A-game for these blockbuster match-ups.
For upsets, i’d go for Konta (over Hsieh), Anisimova (over Mertens), Andreescu (over Cibulkova), Gavrilova (over Buzarnescu), Brady (over Garcia), Vondrousova (over Kasatkina) and Zhang (over Ostapenko). I’m fascinated to see how Anisimova and Andreescu both get on against two of the best competitors on tour. Brady has beaten Garcia twice already this year so wouldn’t be surprised to see her do the hat-trick. I’m hoping Kasatkina can rediscover her magic in Indian Wells but i’m not confident and Vondrousova is quality.
Lucie shared a photo today on Instagram after having an operation to remove her tonsils. I’ve been wondering whether will see Lucie return to the tennis court after she was forced to pull out of her then set-to-be final tournament at the Australian Open.