Friday at the BNP Paribas Open was all about second-round action, as a lot of top players took the court for the first time after byes. Iga Swiatek and Simona Halep victoriously started their campaigns at Indian Wells. US Open champion Emma Raducanu was eliminated in straight sets, while US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez dropped just four games to advance.
Efficient Iga Swiatek cruises past Petra Martic, 6-1 6-3
2020 French Open Champion, Iga Swiatek opened the day session on center court, taking on an experienced Petra Martic.
The first set was all Swiatek with a 5-0 lead. Martic held to 5-1 after playing 15 points. Five points later, the second-seeded Pole closed, 6-1.
The second set brought more of the same, with Swiatek quickly leading to 3-0. The world No.45 Martic found inspiration with a clean love hold to 3-1. The Croat took full advantage of the opportunity, pressing Swiatek who blinked. A hold to 3-2 kept the set within reach for Martic. The Pole pressed and got errors from Martic, while her smooth hands delivered winners. Swiatek leads, 5-2.
All Swiatek had to do was hold serve, easy right? Not so. Martic pushed and the pressure of the moment drew errors, the score now, 0-40. Martic broke to stay alive, 5-3.
Final game: Although the 30-year-old Martic was finding greater success with her shots, the momentum shift timing was behind the curve. She produced a stellar winner at net, however, she faced a deuce point moments later. The errors crept in and Swiatek seized her first match point to close, 6-3.
A fun fact, Swiatek loves to read the classics, her current selection is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Join the Grand Slam champion’s book club?
The third round opponent for the 20-year-old will be 25th seed, Veronika Kudermetova. who has achieved a career-high ranking of No. 28 this year with a win in Charleston. An interesting fact, Veronika is coached by her husband, Sergei Demekhine and team member Vlado Platenik.
Simona Halep gets decisive win post Darren Cahill
In the midday sun, Romania’s Simona Halep won her first match since splitting with coach Darren Cahill, while returning from injuries this season. The 11th seed appeared confident and strong, winning in straight sets against Ukrainian, Marta Kostyuk, 7-6(2) 6-1.
The former world No.1 Halep recently captured her 530th career win. Today wasn’t easy, but she was aggressive and dominant.
Halep spoke of not losing focus with her recent wedding to long-time partner, Toni Iuruc in Romania in mid-September. Since planning a wedding can be a huge distraction from the courts, her partner took care of everything. The tennis player just requested white flowers, her favorite.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich defeats Emma Raducanu, 6-2 6-4
The 27-year-old Sasnovich was absolutely the best player tonight. The world No.100 started strong, winning the first break of Raducanu’s serve and never really wavered.
The 17th-seeded Raducanu started slow and her best game was elusive tonight. Some of that may have been a letdown from the US Open occasion. However, all credit is due to Sasnovich who played with power, strategy and a steady hand. Her strategic use of lobs and passing shots was spot on. She was a backboard and used her doubles-inspired shots, outthinking the Brit.
This was a first meeting between the two. After the match, the 22nd-ranked Raducanu seemed to put the loss in perspective with the context that she’s only played a few WTA events. Yes, she had amazing success in New York, but she has a lot of time ahead of herself to work and grow her game.
Sasnovich was thrilled, as expected, and she has had prior third-round finishes at Indian Wells and the US Open. Perhaps she will have a breakthrough moment. For now, her reward is a round of 32 pairing with, Simona Halep.
Leylah Fernandez defeats Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2
In other news, Leyla Fernandez advanced with ease past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2. In all seriousness, I would love to write more on this match, but it’s been a very long day. Fortunately, we will have another chance to cover Leyla’s next match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in detail. Tomorrow is another huge day. I always wish I had two heads during the early rounds to catch all the action.