Top eight seeds advance to Indian Wells third round

Wilson Blade 9

The second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells concluded with all Top 8 seeds advancing. In a draw still peppered with former champions and Grand Slam winners, there is no telling who might come out on top.

Iga Swiatek eases past Clair Liu 6-0 6-1

The winds kicked up dust and debris this morning when Iga Swiatek took the court at Stadium 1, but she breezed through the match against American Claire Liu with little trouble. The top seed told media, “It was a really solid match and I’m happy with how I adjusted to the wind, because when we were practicing, it wasn’t that windy.” The stadium, which seats 16,100 people, has a strange way of funneling wind to send swirling gusts to the baselines.

Asked if she and her team scout weather patterns the way they do opponents, the Polish perfectionist affirmed. She said, “I think the temperature is more important, because you have to string your racquets proper way.” This is different from the atmospheric factor today: “Wind is something that you just have to adjust to, and you don’t need preparation for that.” Still, it’s something she and sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, a former competitive sailor, study up on before the match. She laughed and said, “We take care of that, as well. We take care of everything.”

In the third round, the defending champion will face the 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu.

Elena Rybakina edges out Sofia Kenin 7-6(6) 7-6(5)

In a battle between the two Grand Slam champions, Elena Rybakina emerged victorious, winning a handful of critical points that made the difference in a match determined by two tiebreaks. Rybakina told media, “In important moments I played really well, and I was trying to focus point by point, because it was really windy, tough conditions.” It made the difference against Kenin.

With the victory, the Wimbledon winner set up a third round battle with 2021 Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 4:1, but the headline is misleading. Each of those matches has hinged on just a few critical points, with tiebreaks and three setters throughout their record.

Previewing what to expect, Rybakina said: “She’s a big hitter, very good serves. She’s strong. Here, the conditions are really slow. I need to focus on my serve, not only trying to play fast but also get good angles because here to make a winner it’s not easy.” The tenth seed laughed and added, “So definitely I need to try to approach the net more often. Today didn’t do much, but it’s something for me to improve for the next match.”

Ons Jabeur overcomes Magdalena Frech 4-6 6-4 6-1

Still recovering from knee injury, Ons Jabeur struggled through her victory over Magdalena Frech.

The Tunisian described her knee as pain free but only at about 80% strength and mobility. She said, “It’s a tough decision to come back, and I was the one that insisted that I come back in Indian Wells and Miami. It was probably too early to come back, but I just made it a new challenge for myself.” The fourth seed joked there was a moment of regret in the first set, but told herself to accept what is happening and keep up the first. She assured her fans, “I’m sure it will get better and better every match.”

Jabeur faces world No.79 Marketa Vondrousova next. The Tunisian narrowly leads their head-to-head 3:2. Most recently, the Czech beat her in three sets in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open. When a reporter told her who she plays next, Jabeur made a face and said: “I do? S**t. I didn’t know” and then laughed. She went on to say, “I have nothing to lose. I’m gonna try my best to beat her.”

Third round action kicks off Sunday in Indian Wells.


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