Former champions Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova both rolled in opening round victories Saturday at the Indian Wells Masters.
Sharapova, a two-time Indian Wells champion, kicked things off the women during the day overwhelming former US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 7-5.
Sharapova will now meet another former champion and former No. 1 in the third round, Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian continued her climb back to the top knocked out former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Klipkens 6-2, 6-4.
Azarenka, who won the 2012 Indian Wells title over Sharapova and leads the Russian 7-6, looks forward to the rematch.
“It’s great for me the more matches I can get like that,” Azarenka said of the Monday match with Sharapova. “To play against one of the best players, it’s perfect. I’m looking forward to that. I definitely need to play my best tennis because she’s been playing great. So I’m really looking forward to that one.
“It’s been a while since we last played. It’s going to be exciting.”
“We have had some really good matches in the past, even though we haven’t played against each other in a while,” Sharapova said. “She’s made a few comebacks, and she’s already been playing really good tennis. I always look forward to our matches, and I’m sure it’ll be a good one this time.”
Former winners Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and defending champion Flavia Pennetta also advanced.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic steamolled his way to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Marcos Baghdatis. And the World No. 1 was quite pleased with his play.
“Great performance against a quality opponent, against somebody that was a former Top 10 player and that knows how to play on a big stage,” Djokovic said. “No complaints. Everything was working well from the beginning to the end.”
Australian Open finalist Andy Murray won by the same 6-1, 6-3 scoreline outclassing Vasek Pospisil.
“It was a good start,” said Murray. “He didn’t serve particularly well. But even still, returning second serves, it was not easy.
“I thought I played quite a smart match, played solid. I didn’t go for too much, but I also felt like when we were in the rallies, I was dictating them, keeping him pinned in his backhand corner, and pushing him further and further away from the baseline.”
Other winners on the day were Kei Nishikori, John Isner, David Ferrer and Ernests Gulbis who won his first match on the season.
US Open champion Marin Cilic’s first match of the season ended in disappointment losing to Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-4.
“I wasn’t expecting that I’m going to be playing great tennis, which is always difficult in the first couple of matches,” Cilic said. “Some players do feel great from the beginning, but I’m the kind of player that needs a few matches to get into it.
“In these last, let’s say 20 days, you get some blisters by not playing,” Cilic said. “Your body is sore, shoulder is sore, wrist, things like that. It wasn’t the best, but I’m looking forward. I’m looking at this as good preparation.”
In action on a busy Sunday is Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal along with the return of Serena Williams. Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov duel in what could be the best match of the day.
SUNDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP –  J. Chardy (FRA) vs D. Young (USA)
ATP – N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs  G. Dimitrov (BUL)
WTA –  [WC] S. Williams (USA) vs  Z. Diyas (KAZ)
ATP – D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs  R. Federer (SUI)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – I. Sijsling (NED) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 8:30 pm
WTA –  S. Halep (ROU) vs  V. Lepchenko (USA)
STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
WTA – H. Watson (GBR) vs  A. Radwanska (POL)
ATP –  M. Raonic (CAN) vs S. Bolelli (ITA)
ATP –  S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs R. Haase (NED)
WTA –  S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs S. Stephens (USA)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – S. Stakhovsky (UKR) vs  T. Berdych (CZE)
ATP –  B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs K. Anderson (RSA) / J. Melzer (AUT)
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