WTA Indian Wells: First day of main draw action; Puig and Bencic among victors of the day

The first day of the main draw in women’s singles at the BNP Paribas Open commenced as the second rounds in the top half of the women’s draw was confirmed, with some blockbuster matches coming our way. Victors from today include Monica Puig and Belinda Bencic, who secured an encouraging win after some injury struggles.

Puig strolls past American wildcard

The match originally started with the American wild card Danielle Collins having the advantage straight away, earning a break point in the opening game of the match. Nevertheless, Puig’s serve became solid when it mattered as she held onto her service game in the end. What followed up was another tight game and a break point opportunity appeared once again, but this time it was Puig who was able to convert it as she made the first breakthrough to have the early lead. From there, the Puerto Rican strolled to the first set victory, gifting a bagel and looking very in form.

Monica Puig cruised to her victory today | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Monica Puig cruised to her victory today | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Collins got on the scoreboard in some style as she unexpectedly broke Puig’s serve to start the second set with, jumping out to an early advantage. Nevertheless, the Olympics gold medalist did not let the American wildcard control the game as she made an immediate reply, leveling the scores in the set. After an exchange of service holds that followed, Puig rattled off four consecutive games to close out the match in 70 minutes.

Bencic earns encouraging win

Winning eight of the first nine points in the match, Tsvetana Pironkova ran out to an early lead as she secured the break easily with Bencic having a slow start to the match. Nevertheless, Bencic finally got onto the scoreboard as she broke straight back to prevent herself from falling further behind. After a couple of comfortable service holds, it was the Swiss who made the next breakthrough as she broke serve in the seventh game, taking the lead for the first time in the match. Eventually, Bencic closed out the first set 6-4 with a nervy hold of service.

Belinda Bencic played her last match as a teenager and first match wearing Nike kits | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Belinda Bencic played her last match as a teenager and first match wearing Nike kits | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

The Bulgarian started the second set by giving away her service game, gifting Bencic a set and a break lead. After fending off a break point in the next game, the Swiss broke serve once more to seem like she is in the hurry to close out the match. Pironkova finally got herself onto the scoreboard in the second set when she earned a comfortable love service hold to give her a lifeline but was unable to go against the powerful Bencic offense as she soon fell in straight sets after just 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Errani battles past Minella

Sara Errani made a huge and encouraging comeback against Mandy Minella as she recovered from a set and a break down to progress to the second round where she would face Barbora Strycova. Starting the match on a positive note, the Italian earned a break point in the opening game but was unable to convert and thus allowed Minella to hold serve. From there, the former top 10 player’s game seemed to lose its focus as she lost her fifth consecutive game to trail by a deficit of 0-5. Serving to stay in the set, Errani saved three set points in the marathon 17-points game, preventing herself from getting a bagel. Despite getting to deuce, Errani was unable to go against Minella’s powerful game and lost the first set 2-6 after 38 minutes.

Sara Errani at the Australian Open | Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Sara Errani at the Australian Open | Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

Everything seemed to be going well for Minella as she jumped out to an early break in the second set, looking to create an upset here, although Errani recently fell out of the top 100 due to some injury problems. From this point, it seemed as though Errani improved her game all of a sudden and broke back to level the scores, before saving a total of five break points to narrowly hold onto her serve. Her efforts to make a comeback finally paid off as she broke serve at the last moment, winning the second set 6-4 in 62 minutes.

Similar to the second set, Errani fell behind by an early service break in the final set but was able to break back to love. The set was eventually extended to an 11th game, and Errani broke serve in the last game to seal the match in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Sara Errani has been troubled by injury problems recently | Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images AsiaPac
Sara Errani has been troubled by injury problems recently | Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images AsiaPac

Rodina creates huge shock

Lucky-loser Evgeniya Rodina made maximum use of her second opportunity as she cruised to a comfortable victory over Christina McHale, losing only one game in the process. After a very tight start to the match which saw an exchange of service breaks, Rodina made a third consecutive break of serve as she regained the lead and this time, she held onto it tightly. The Russian rattled off five games in a row to take the first set 6-1, and look to create a huge upset.

Fending off break points in the opening game of the second set, Rodina eventually cruised to the victory as she won her 11th game in a row, gifting two “bakery products” (6-0, 6-1 sets) in the end. One statistic worth noting is that McHale wasted a total of seven break points in the match, and allowed Rodina to hold on to her service games and earn the comfortable victory.

Evgeniya Rodina played her best tennis today | Photo: Pat Scala/Getty Images AsiaPac
Evgeniya Rodina played her best tennis today | Photo: Pat Scala/Getty Images AsiaPac

Schiavone kisses goodbye to Indian Wells

Francesca Schiavone had the perfect start to the match as Louisa Chirico’s serve looked very inconsistent within the first few points of the match, with the Italian earning two break points within a blink of an eye. With both players looking very solid on their serves, the first and only break of the first set came in the eighth game when Chirico made the first breakthrough of the match, breaking serve to love and earning the chance to serve out the set. The American did just so, fending off three break points while being 0-40 down to clinch the first set 6-3 after just 32 minutes.

The second set started with a break of serve going to Chirico, who earned a lead of a set and a break. She managed to hold onto her lead until the fourth game where a sloppy service game threw the advantage away, returning on serve. Unlike the first set, the second set was filled with an abundance of service breaks, with Chirico making the last breakthrough by breaking for the third straight time to clinch the match after 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Francesca Schiavone stated that this is her last season on tour | Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac
Francesca Schiavone stated that this is her last season on tour | Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac

Niculescu prevails in all-Romanian clash

Monica Niculescu earned a morale-boosting victory over Sorana Cirstea after a period of inactivity, triumphing in three sets to earn a spot in the second round. The battle of Romanians saw a very tight first set being won by Cirstea after 47 minutes before Niculescu earned the two decisive breaks in the second set to level the match. Some inconsistent serving then cost Cirstea greatly in the final set as she lost her serve three times in a row to eventually lose the match and crash out of the tournament.

Monica Niculescu in action | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Monica Niculescu in action | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Flipkens send the youngster out

The young American star Catherine Bellis crashed out of the tournament to veteran Kirsten Flipkens in exactly two hours, with the Belgian using her slices to trouble the youngster. The first set was all about Bellis, who was able to break serve twice to take the first set and be halfway from the victory. She had four break point opportunities in the opening game of the second set but was unable to convert all of them as these wasted chances eventually cost her greatly, with Flipkens breaking serve twice to level the match.

Jumping into a 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye, Bellis was broken back in the fifth game but was able to regain the lead immediately in the next game, taking a 4-2 lead. From there, she lost her way as Flipkens stepped up her game, winning four games in a row to seal the win.

Kirsten Flipkens hits her trademark backhand slice | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Kirsten Flipkens hits her trademark backhand slice | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Other results

The other matches from the day included Kristyna Pliskova’s win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands in straight sets, losing just three games in the match. Also, Jelena Ostapenko battled past Danka Kovinic in a final set tiebreak to progress to the second round, coming from 3-5 down in the final set to do so. Other victors during the day include Heather WatsonWang Qiang, Yanina Wickmayer, Kayla Day, Anett Kontaveit, Madison Brengle and Johanna Larsson.

Heather Watson in action during her match against Nicole Gibbs | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Heather Watson in action during her match against Nicole Gibbs | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

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