This is a guest post by Ashley Ndebele, a tennis aficionado who speaks tennis fluently and has transcended her passion into her blog African Tennis Now, on account of which she got a pass for the BNP Paribas Open. Ashley was born and raised in Southern Africa, now lives in Southern California and has been spending two active days at Indian Wells. Enjoy Ashley’s Friday’s report from the event.
My Day 1 at the BNP Paribas Open was quite eventful. Since it was my first time here, I spent the first few hours getting the lay of the land, walking the grounds. Boy, it eats up quite a bit of land; it’s huge. No wonder they call it the 5th slam.
While walking around acclimating, I caught the last part of Simona Halep‘s match on the big screen. She was playing against Daria Gavrilova of Russia. She had lost the first set, but had taken the second one 6-1 and was up in the third. Her serving looked quite off today. She went on to win it 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
The main conversation all over the grounds was Serena Williiams. Everyone I came across was looking forward to her return after a 14-year boycott.
My first player sighting was Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic. This girl is tall. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to snap a photo of her, as she was rushing to enter the fitness center. I didn’t want to go paparazzi on her.
Sloane Stephens of Unites States and Angelique Kerber of Germany were playing at Stadium 1, which is the Centre Court. I took in some of their match. As you surely expected it, this was anyone’s match. Both these players can be unpredictable. Sloane won it 7-6(6), 6-2.
I tried to watch the Garbine Muguruza match on Stadium 4, but I did something very embarrassing. I was told to take any seat, so I walked over to sit at the one that was closest to me. I didn’t realize it was the player box, so I quickly found the exit and left. Garbine won the match 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 against American Irina Falconi.
I would have loved to catch Agnieszka Radwanska‘s match, but I missed it. She won 6-3, 6-1 against American Alison Riske.
My next sighting was Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. She was heading to the gates, exiting. I tried to take a picture, but her wranglers (WTA stuff) weren’t having it. I did capture her back, though.
I also crossed paths with Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, as she was heading over to the locker room to get ready for her match. I asked her to smile for the camera and she did, as you can see.
To cap the night, I took the main feature, Serena’s match. She played against Monica Niculescu of Romania. Serena received an overwhelming applause. The jam-packed stadium roared as she was introduced by the announcer.
Something seemed off at the start of the match. She was very nervous, losing the first three opening games. She did slowly find her footing, but committed a lot of errors. She took the first set 7-5, after trading breaks a couple of times. Monica played a match of her life today. She really took it to ReRe, but in the end, Serena did what she does best. Serena won it 7-5, 7-5.
I’ll be at Indian Wells on Saturday as well, so stay tuned for the report from my Day 2. (Serena photo credit: Anita Stahl)