Indian Wells: Fast start for Serena, Venus exits; Hingis-Mirza win
This was the World No. 1’s first match since losing at the Australian Open final in January. There were hardly any signs of rust as Serena needed just 63 minutes to breeze past the 79th ranked German qualifier Laura Siegemund, 6-2, 6-1.
But another qualifier dashed all hopes of elder sister Venus in the American’s first match at the Indian Wells Garden in 15 years. Japanese Kurumi Nara refused to be awed by the occasion and by the pro-Williams crowd as she kept capitalizing on Venus’ unforced errors. The 35-year-old did manage to break Nara four times in the match but the Japanese held her nerves well to carve out a 6-4, 6-3 win.
Despite the setback, Venus still promised to come back to Indian Wells.
“It was enough of a fairy tale to come here and play,” said the former World No. 1. “A win would have been nice, but that means I have to come back and play next year.”
“I would definitely love to come back.”
Seeds keep tumbling
It wasn’t a great day for the WTA players at Indian Wells as a host of seeds made their way out. Apart from Venus, eight other seeds exited in the second round and they are 11th seed Lucie Safarova, 15th seed Sara Errani, 16th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, 22nd seed Andrea Petkovic, 23rd seed Madison Keys, 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 27th seed Kristina Mladenovic and 29th seed Sabine Lisicki.
Great escape for Radwanska; Kvitova survives
Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska looked close to joining the exodus on Friday as she was just one point away from succumbing to Dominika Cibulkova in her opener but she hung tough to overcome the barrage. The Pole was trailing 2-5 in the third set before she could ride on her staunch determination to take the next five games on the trot and close the door on the former Australian Open runner-up, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova, who hasn’t enjoyed a good start to the season, survived an onslaught from the 21-year-old Montenegrin Danka Kovinic, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5).
Defending champion Halep sizzles
Fifth seed and defending champion Simona Halep, who has been struggling of late, gave her title bid a great boost by thrashing American Vania King, 6-1, 6-1. The match lasted just 55 minutes.
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis’ astonishing 41-match winning streak may have ended but they are ready to build another! And what better place to start than the one where it all began?
It was here that the Indian and the Swiss began their magical partnership one year ago. The defending champions faced a tough Aussie pairing of Casey Dellacqua and Samantha Stosur in their first round this year but they came through with flying colours, winning 6-3, 7-5.
ATP – Zverev, Verdasco win
While the biggest ATP stars are yet to begin their campaign, Fernando Verdasco who upset Rafael Nadal at this year’s Australian Open, won his first round match with ease. The former World No. 7 defeated Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky, 7-6(4), 6-3.
18-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev edged past Ivan Dodig, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Some of the other names winning on the men’s side on Friday were Vasek Pospisil, Mikhail Youzhny, Gilles Muller and Andreas Seppi. Mikhail Kukushkin, who recently pushed Novak Djokovic to five sets in their Davis Cup World Group first round singles rubber, beat Daniel Munoz de la Nava, 7-6(1), 6-2.
However, luck ran out for Ernests Gulbis, Jiri Vesely, Lukas Rosol and Juan Monaco.Published 12 Mar 2016, 16:36 IST