Gulbis Lines Up Nadal, Women Struggle at Indian Wells
The seeds met the seeds in Monday women’s action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and the three top seeds, including world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, moved rather unsteadily into the fourth round.
Azarenka found herself a set down against No. 28-seeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens before a third set blowout that saw the Belarussian advance 3-6, 6-3, 6-0.
“She came out firing, playing so freely and going for every possible shot there was,” said Azarenka, who down 3-6, 3-3 did not lose another game. “I didn’t really adjust well — I didn’t take my chances, and I was too blurry in what I had to do. But whatever happened in the first set is not going to happen tomorrow.”
Improving to 16-0 on the year, Azarenka will next meet unseeded Urszula “Not Aggie” Radwanska.
No. 4 Angie Kerber narrowly avoided a third set, defeating No. 30 Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 7-6(4), while No. 7 Sam Stosur needed three sets to subdue No. 32 Peng Shuai 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
“I’d had success against her in the past, so I knew if I could stay focused on the task at hand I’d have a shot,” said Stosur, down a break in the third but improving to 5-0 career against Shuai.
Stosur also experienced the morning earthquake near Indian Wells on the practice courts. “I was warming up for my match and didn’t feel the ground or anything, but all of a sudden I felt the stands were moving and the flagpoles were going a little bit crazy. I thought it was just a big gust of wind, not an earthquake — but then we found out later it was an earthquake. A little bit of excitement to spice the morning up, I guess!”
Kerber entered Indian Wells on a three-match losing streak, dealing with a back injury.
“Before coming here I wasn’t sure about how my back would feel after my matches, but now it’s much better and my confidence is of course back and I feel good, and I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow again,” she said.
The remaining two Top 10 seeds rolled as No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki beat No. 29 Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-1, and No. 10 Nadia Petrova, continuing her late-career resurgence, put a 6-1, 6-2 beatdown on No. 21 Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges.
Other winners on the day were No. 24 Mona Barthel with a mild upset over the erratic No. 11 Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 3-6, 6-0; the unseeded Pole Urszula Radwanska getting by American Jamie Hampton 6-0, 7-6(4); and Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza topping Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-0.
The men’s seeds went about their business on Monday in Indian Wells, with the only upset the hot-handed qualifier Ernests Gulbis ousting No. 20 seed Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
“I should have won easier,” said the outspoken Latvian, who was also a qualifier in his previous event at Delray Beach where he ran all the way to the title. “I played better than him the first set. I played better than him the whole match, I think. It’s just that the first match just mentally I destroyed myself, and that’s what happened.”
Gulbis will next face Rafael Nadal.
“I believe that I can win,” Gulbis said. “I want to play as many matches as possible against these top guys. Sooner or later I’m going to win something and it’s going to give me extra confidence. I need to beat the guys who are ranked No. 20 to 100 easier than I did let’s say today.”
The four Top 10-seeded players in action advanced without dropping a set in (2) Roger Federer who topped Croat Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-1, (5) Nadal who received an injured walkover from Argentine Leo Mayer (back injury), (6) Tomas Berdych who defeated (27) Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1, and (10) Richard Gasquet who likewise eased past (24) Jerzy Janowicz 6-1, 6-4.
“It was a tough day,” said Federer, who won in 61 minutes but needed to rally from 0-40 down in the first game against Dodig. “Ivan played really well and I struggled early on in the first few games. Then I got a bit of a break at the end of the first set, started to play better. In the last couple of games Ivan didn’t play so well and I was able to take advantage of it. It was a really good win for me.”
Also into the fourth round Monday were (13) Gilles Simon outlasting French countryman Benoit Paire 6-4 in the third, (18) Stan Wawrinka beating former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-5, and Kevin Anderson winning a battle of un-seeds with Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-1.
In second round doubles action Monday the top-seeded Bryan brothers dispatched of fellow Americans John Isner/Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-3, and American wildcards James Blake/Mardy Fish defeated Feliciano Lopez/Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-3.
Matches to watch for Tuesday are (3) Andy Murray vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (Murray trails head-to-head 0-1), (8) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (32) Mardy Fish, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (31) Grigor Dimitrov, (8) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (10) Nadia Petrova, (6) Sara Errani vs. (9) Marion Bartoli, (12) Marin Cilic vs. (17) Milos Raonic, (11) Nicolas Almagro vs. (19) Tommy Haas, (3) Aggie Radwanska vs. (13) Maria Kirilenko, and (7) Sam Stosur vs. (24) Mona Barthel.
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