Indian Wells action is ramping up as the seeds enter the fray on a busy Friday slate at the BNP Paribas Open.
Scroll down for the rundown on all the WTA singles action from across the grounds…
It was an inauspicious beginning for 2022 BNP Paribas Open runner-up Maria Sakkari on Friday. Returning to the site of her biggest career final, the seventh-seeded Greek struggled early against upset-minded Shelby Rogers.
Down a set and serving at 4-4, 0-40 in the second set, Sakkari dug deep to deliver a clutch service hold, then proceeded to flip the script on the World No. 41 as she raced off with the final eight games to lock down a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 triumph.
“I’m so happy to be back on this court,” Sakkari said on court after the match. “Last year I had an amazing week here, and I just love this court – this stadium is my favorite.”
Sakkari had lost her three previous meetings with her American opponent, but was able to right the ship in a difficult match that featured a rare, prolonged rain delay.
She saved eight of 12 break points in total, and converted six of eight of her own against Rogers.
“I put myself in trouble sometimes, but it’s how I learn, and how I get better,” she said. “My level is nowhere near where I want it to be but I’m going to work on it every single day in this tournament.”
Sakkari will face No.27-seeded Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the third round. The Greek improves to 12-5 on the season and 9-4 at Indian Wells.
— wta (@WTA) March 11, 2023
Also in the evening session, sixth-seeded Coco Gauff cruised past Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa, 6-2, 6-4 on Stadium 2. The American moves into the third round for the third time at Indian Wells, and will face either Amanda Anisimova or Czech teen Linda Noskova next.
No.2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka wasted little time in taking her place in the third round on Friday, as she zoomed past Evgeniya Rodina, 6-2, 6-0 in 65 minutes to earn her 14th win from 15 matches in 2023.
The 2023 Australian Open will square off with Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko next.
The contest will be a rematch – Sabalenka dashed past Tsurenko in third-round action in 2019 at Indian Wells, winning 6-2 7-5.
“It’s going to be interesting match,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player, and it’s going to be a great battle.”
Tsurenko created one of Friday’s upsets, rallying to defeat 29th-seeded Donna Vekic, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
The Ukrainian is a former quarterfinalist in the California desert. She came through qualifying to reach the last eight in 2015.
Clinical would be the word.
Make that seven impressive victories on the trot for the talented Czech, who rumbled through the draw in Dubai last month, notching wins over the WTA’s top three players, including an emphatic takedown of World No.1 Iga Swiatek (6-4, 6-2) for the title.
The future looks rosy once again for Krejcikova. After a 2022 season that saw her struggle with form and an elbow injury, she has rebounded and begun to show the form that took her to the top of the sport in 2021. The 27-year-old made the jump to elite status in 2021, winning her first singles major at the French Open, which enabled her to rise as high as No.2 in the world in February of 2022.
After bottoming out at No.30 in the rankings earlier this season, Krejcikova is on the rise once again.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 10, 2023
Spending a birthday on court with a great friend is usually a recipe for bliss, but on Friday it was anything but for No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic.
Bencic, a 2019 Indian Wells semifinalist who entered the day tied for the WTA lead in wins (15) and titles (2) in 2023, was knocked out of the draw by her good friend Jil Teichmann, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Tiechmann, who improves to 2-1 lifetime over her compatriot, cracked 31 winners to just 19 for Bencic, locking down her victory in two hours and 32 minutes. She will face either Zhang Shuai or Rebecca Peterson as she makes her first appearance in the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.
In other early second-round action on Friday, No.27-seeded Anhelina Kalinina defeated Linda Fruhvirtova, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, while 24th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko was also a winner, defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.