Saturday, 12 March 2016

Indian Wells - early notes

Tennis is on at Indian Wells, the first big event since the Australian Open, not a Major, but rated the biggest Masters for the men and similarly important Premier for the ladies.  Of course most interest has been off court and centred on Maria Sharapova.

In fact players interviewed after matches at Indian Wells have had more questions Sharapova related than focused on their own fortunes.  Thankfully my curiosity extends to the battle of the racquets in California and although we're only in the middle of the men's first round and the women's second round we have already seen some shock results.

15th and 16th seeds Sara Errani and Sveta Kuznetsova lost their second round matches after first round byes, confirming that the rest did not do them any good.
Lesia Tsurenko from the Ukraine, ranked 36 but winless this year decided to rectify that and Sara was the unlucky straight sets recipient.  The Italian's inconsistent form has seen her impressively win a title in 2016 but lose other matches to opponents much less credentialed.

Coco Vandeweghe, in defeating Sveta, thrilled her home nation and continued her good form from the first round.  This was probably not as much of a surprise result considering the power game of the American and the potential that she has shown periodically.

Third seed Aga Radwanska pulled a Houdini after being 5-2 down in the decider against Dominika Cibulkova, winning the final five games to survive into the third round.  Heather Watson, winner last week in Mexico and through to the fourth round here last year, looked on course again after levelling her match against Monica Niculescu with a 6-2 second set.  However the Romanian showed why she is ranked higher by outclassing the Brit in the final set and advancing further.

The two matches of interest for me in the men's first round so far include the win by Juan Martin Del Potro  6-4 6-0 over American Tim Smyczek.  This one I think the American fans wouldn't mind conceding just to see the comeback of Del Potro continue.  He is ranked 420 but continued fitness will see that dramatically change and for the sake of men's tennis we need him back in the top few.  A salivating second round sees Del Potro facing 6th seed Tomas Berdych.

The other match was a thrill both for the USA and for the tennis world as it was a clash between two 18 year old American young guns Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe.  Fritz has had the headlines and the success with his ranking jumping to 80 in recent weeks.  This time though it was Tiafoe who claimed bragging rights and won through to the second round and a tough assignment - 15th seed David Goffin.

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