BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells Masters) 2016: Shocking loss for Hingis-Mirza; Nadal survives
One year ago, it was at the BNP Paribas Open where India’s Sania Mirza and the former World No. 1 Martina Hingis first joined forces and the rest is all history. But their title defense came crumbling much earlier than expected as the top seeds slumped to a shocking 6(7)-7, 4-6 loss to the unseeded but lethal team of Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round on Sunday.
This is the first straight-sets defeat for the Indo-Swiss duo since the Rogers Cup last August.
Hingis and Mirza, who won the Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open titles, saw their incredible 41-match winning streak getting snapped at the Qatar Open quarter-finals in February.
Defending champion Halep rediscovers her form
In singles, defending champion Simona Halep showed flashes of her poise and control of the ball as she thundered past the 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the fourth round. The Russian had previously troubled Halep having ousted her from the Australian Open in 2015. But on Sunday, the fifth seed did not allow any repeat of such a scenario as she broke Makarova four times to claim the victory.
She will next meet the Czech veteran and the Dubai Open runner-up Barbora Strycova who outlasted Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Earlier in the day, top seed Serena Williams and third seed Agnieszka Radwanska prevailed in straight sets in their respective matches while eighth seed Petra Kvitova managed to avert a disaster. The two-time Wimbledon winner was a game away from defeat as her opponent, Johanna Larsson served for the match at 5-4. But the Czech broke back and won three games on the trot for the win.
ATP – Tough win for Nadal
Fourth seed and three-time Indian Wells winner Rafael Nadal was made to work hard by the big-serving southpaw Gilles Muller in his opening match at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. After saving 11 of a massive 14 break points, the 14-time Grand Slam champion emerged triumphant 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Up next for him is another dangerous and a very familiar rival – Fernando Verdasco. The two Spaniards last met at the Australian Open in January where Verdasco famously pulled off a five-set victory over his younger compatriot in the first round.
More recently, the two friends teamed up to play doubles at this year’s Indian Wells Masters. The Spanish combine put up a gritty fight against the mighty Bryan Brothers only to be edged 6-3, 5-7, 8-10 by the Americans in the first round on Saturday.
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic too did not have it easy in his opener and was put to a stern test by the 149-ranked American Bjorn Fratangelo. The 28-year-old Serbian eventually prevailed 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Some of the other winners were fifth seed Kei Nishikori, seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 18th seed Feliciano Lopez.
Youngsters Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem also made their way into the third round. 18-year-old Zverev, the youngest player remaining in the draw, came back from a break down in the deciding set to see off 23rd seed Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4. 3-6, 7-5. 11th seed Thiem, meanwhile, posted an ATP Tour-leading 21st win of the year as he got the better of qualifier Jozef Kovalik, 7-6(4), 7-6(3).
Del Potro soars high in doubles
He may have departed from the singles draw in the second round, but 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro is still alive in the tournament in doubles. The Argentine alongside compatriot Leonardo Mayer caused a huge upset in the first round as the unseeded pair thrashed the second seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, 6-3, 6-2.Published 14 Mar 2016, 20:27 IST