Top seeded women’s stars began play on Friday with the WTA second round getting underway on a picturesque spring day in Tennis Paradise. Here were some of the top storylines from Friday’s action:
In what will be her last match as a 17-year-old, fan-favorite Coco Gauff took care of business against Southern California native Claire Liu, prevailing in straight sets under the lights of Stadium 1. Gauff’s victory sets up a massive third round matchup against two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, who needed three sets to move past Ekaterina Alexandrova earlier on Friday.
Halep, the 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion, will be looking to play spoiler in the third round as the Sunday showdown falls on Gauff’s 18th birthday.
No. 11 seed Emma Raducanu moved past Caroline Garcia in three sets on Stadium 1 to earn her first career win in Tennis Paradise. The 2021 U.S. Open champion faltered a bit in the second set, but otherwise looked flawless in the first and third as she took care of the pesky Garcia with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory.
The young British standout’s Friday triumph sets her up for a third round meeting with the experienced Petra Martic, who will be feeling confident after pulling the upset over the No. 19 seed Tamara Zidansek earlier in the day. After a disappointing first round exit in her BNP Paribas Open debut last fall, Raducanu will be eyeing down a deep run in Tennis Paradise as she looks to build some momentum to kick start her 2022 season.
World No. 4 Iga Swiatek was the highest seed in action on Friday as she squared off against Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in front of a high-energy Stadium 2 crowd to start the day. Swiatek came into Tennis Paradise riding some serious momentum after a WTA 1000 championship title in Qatar, but showed a bit of nerves in her opening match as she dropped the first set against the 25-year-old Ukranian.
The young Polish phenom bounced back impressively from her first set defeat, taking home 12 of the final 13 games in the match en route to a 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 victory. If the 20-year-old standout and 2020 French Open champion can play like she did in the latter two sets moving forward, she’ll be one of the favorites to watch to make a run at the title in the desert.
A trio of WTA Top 15 upsets took Tennis Paradise by surprise on Friday afternoon.
Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic started the day off with a thrilling 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 comeback win over No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova. 31-year-old American Alison Riske pulled another shock upset to conclude the afternoon session on Stadium 1, knocking off No. 8 seed Garbine Muguruza in three sets. After losing the first nine games of the match, the American rallied emphatically to pull off a bizarre 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Qualifier Harriet Dart continued the string of upsets as day turned to night in Tennis Paradise, clawing back from a first set defeat to oust No. 12 seed Elina Svitolina 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.