Saturday, October 9, 2021 - Bianca Andreescu and Alison Riske play a Round 2 match at Stadium 1 on day 6 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu embarked on her delayed 2019 title defense on Saturday night at the BNP Paribas Open, turning back an inspired challenge from American Alison Riske, 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2.
Riske, ranked No. 51, trailed 4-1 in the second set, but reeled off six of the next seven games to force a decider, saving two match points in the process.
Andreescu, 21, remains unbeaten in eight career matches at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
In 2019, the Ontarian became the first wildcard to lift the trophy here, upsetting four Top-20 players. She’s bidding to become only the second woman after Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova (1990-91) to successfully defend her crown.
Andreescu moves on to face 18th seed Anett Kontaveit, who advanced via walkover against Italy’s Martina Trevisan. She’s winless in two previous encounters with the Estonian, including a 6-3, 6-3 loss earlier this year in the Round of 16 at Eastbourne.
After storming to titles at Indian Wells and the US Open two year ago, Andreescu injured her left knee in her WTA Finals debut, a setback that would cost her the entire 2020 campaign. There have been foot woes and an abdominal strain since, not to mention a positive COVID-19 test. Now aligned with veteran coach Sven Groeneveld, she’s healthy and chasing titles once again.
Top seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic powered her way into the third round, smacking six aces and winning 79 percent of her first-serve points (30 of 38) in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Poland’s Magdalena Frech.
Pliskova, who this summer reached her second major final at Wimbledon, has advanced to at least the quarterfinals here in her last four appearances, including semifinal runs in 2016 and 2017.
Earlier in the day, two-time Slam champ Garbiñe Muguruza became a high-profile upset victim. The Spaniard fell to 47th-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, in one hour and 52 minutes. Muguruza, ranked No. 6, was coming off her second title of the year in Chicago, but couldn’t solve Tomljanovic at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It marked Tomljanovic’s first Top-10 win of the year.
Muguruza has twice reached the quarterfinals in the desert, in 2017 and 2019.
Making her much-anticipated tournament debut, 17-year-old Coco Gauff battled past Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in three sets, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1, in two hours and 10 minutes in Stadium 1. The American finished with 12 aces to seven double faults, and converted five of 14 break-point opportunities in advancing to the third round.
Also prevailing in three sets on Saturday was 12th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who defeated Latvia’s Anistaija Sevastona, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3. Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya needed two hours and 47 minutes to upend 28th seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, 6-3, 5-4, 6-2.