The second round concluded at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open on Saturday with six seeds departing the tournament. The blockbuster match of the day again delivered with an absorbing contest between Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova. More on that match included in Saturday’s Set Points with 5 stories from day 4 of main draw action in Indian Wells.
Kerber in form 🔥
Angelique Kerber delivered a dismissive performance to power past Yulia Putintseva, 6-0 6-2 in just 63 minutes. I really thought Poots had a shot in this match but that was woefully misguided! It was very encouraging to see Kerber play with an aggressive edge. Her forehand down-the-line was absolutely sensational. This was one of those good days where everything was in full flow.
Next up for Angie is Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the third round. I’m really pleased to see the Vik rounding into some good form. Her game is so, SO much better than her current ranking of 112.
Sabalenka tested, through in three sets
Aryna Sabalenka was playing her first singles match since missing six match points in a thrilling third rounder in Dubai against the eventual champion, Belinda Bencic. Sabalenka was pushed to three sets but ultimately prevailed to beat Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-3 4-6 6-0. Sabalenka turned on the style in the decider, dropping just six points behind her serve and using it effectively to set up her bruising groundstrokes.
A good result for Aryna to start afresh. Still questioning where her confidence is at as she faces on the unenviable task of trying to replicate and build on her sensational second half of 2018. It was nice to see Aryna so bubbly and happy in her post-match interview!
Barthel upsets Keys
Mona Barthel won back-to-back matches on the WTA tour for the first time since September 2018 with a come-from-behind, 3-6 6-1 7-5 victory over Madison Keys. It was Barthel’s best win on tour in terms of ranking since 2015! Keys had played a very stable first set but tailed off in the second set. It felt like one of those matches that Keys would scrape through as she had an opportunity to serve for the match at *5-4 in the third set. Keys wavered as Barthel went onto win the last three games of the match.
I thought Keys went tactically astray at the end of third set and seemed to panic in the longer points. The American seemed both tight and tense, and lost all rhythm on her groundstrokes. This was only Keys’s second tournament of the season so I hope she can stay healthy and build momentum by playing more regularly. The American discussed her search for momentum in quotes shared by WTA Insider on Twitter (see below). Madison shared some of the abuse she received on Instagram which was disgusting. It makes me so angry.
For Mona, i’m thrilled to see her enjoying success on the big stage again. Next up is an all-German battle against Julia Goerges.
Venus-Petra go the distance again
Venus Williams produced a sensationally spirited display to rally from a set and a double break down to beat the world number three, Petra Kvitova, 4-6 7-5 6-4. While the quality fluctuated throughout, it was yet another captivating and competitive contest between the pair who continued their 100% record of playing only three setters.
I thought Venus was the better player for the most of the match. One lapse service game at *4-4 and Kvitova’s ability to find first serves when it mattered were the only difference in the opener. Kvitova looked to be striding to victory, leading 6-4 *3-0, but she increasingly began to struggle with her serve as her first serve percentage plummeted. Venus seized on her opportunity, choosing the right time to come to the net and inflict some pressure. I thought Venus’s point construction was generally excellent and served well with Kvitova not having a good day on return.
It was nice to see how much this win meant to Venus with her match point reaction!
Osaka’s post-match interview
Osaka got back to winning ways in Saturday’s late night match on Stadium 1. I liked her post-match interview with Andrew Krasny 🤣.