Serena Leads, Sharapova Drugged Out of Indian Wells; Preview
by Jeremy Davis | March 8th, 2016, 12:25 pm

I can tell you that Maria Sharapova doesn’t have a difficult draw in Indian Wells — because she’s not here! Boom!
What, too early for Maria jokes?

Hey, just because you got caught taking a drug that is really a performance-enhancing stimulant for the majority of your career doesn’t mean you’re guilty. That’s just using your cash and team of chemists to stay ahead of the curve, right? Just because the majority of Russian athletes take it, and Russian athletics totally skirts IOC drug rules, doesn’t mean anything. Just because it wasn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Maria lives in the U.S. Those Russian athletes must all be taking pre-diabetes measures! Good for them, you gotta look out for your health.

But back to the task at hand, which is the women’s Indian Wells draw — not featuring Maria Sharapova, but with current No. 1 Serena Williams, five former No. 1s among the seeds, numerous Grand Slam champs besides Serena — you get it, the draw is loaded.

This tournament has long been the playground for players not named Williams to grab a major title due to the sisters’ boycott, but those days are over.

Main draw play gets underway Wednesday for the women. Let’s have a look:

Indian Wells, Calif., USA; Surface: hard

Seeds: Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Carla Suarez Navarro, Belinda Bencic, Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci, Venus Williams, Lucie Safarova, Timea Bacsinszky, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Andrea Petkovic, Madison Keys, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Johanna Konta, Samantha Stosur, Kristina Mladenovic, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Sabine Lisicki, Ekaterina Makarova, Daria Gavrilova, Monica Niculescu

Floaters: Alison Riske, Lucie Hradecka, Heather Watson, CoCo Vandeweghe, Yanina Wickmayer, Genie Bouchard


All 32 seeds receive opening-round byes, but some juicy second round potential upsets loom with (30) Makarova vs. the Riske/Hradecka winner, (32) Niculescu vs. the hot-handed Watson, (16) Kuznetsova vs. Vandeweghe, (26) Stosur vs. Wickmayer who the Aussie lost to in their last meeting, and (21) Stephens vs. the surging Bouchard;

(1) Serena’s testing could start in the 4th round against the retrieving (15) Errani, then in the quarters against either (5) Halep or (10) Venus;

Wildcards were awarded to Americans Samantha Crawford, Lauren Davis, Jamie Loeb, Riske, Shelby Rogers, Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova, Brit Heather Watson and China’s Zhang Shuai;

Qualifying is still underway;

Withdrawing from the event were Sharapova (citing an arm injury — prior to knowing about the positive drug test?), Karin Knapp, Ajla Tomljanovic, Mona Barthel, Alize Cornet and Varvara Lepchenko;

No player has won more than two career titles at the ultra-competitive Indian Wells women’s event, and only Martina Navratilova has won back-to-back titles;

Venus Williams is returning to Indian Wells after a 15-year boycott; Serena ended her boycott last year;

Halep beat Jankovic in last year’s three-set final; Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza are the defending champs in doubles;

Former champs in the field are Halep (2015), Azarenka (2012), Wozniacki (2011), Jankovic (2010), Ivanovic (2008), Hantuchova (2007,’02), and Serena Williams (2001,’99).


Top Quarter

(1) Serena should emerge into the semis, but look for a blockbuster quarterfinal meeting with either Halep or Venus.

2nd Quarter

(3) Radwanska and (8) Kvitova are the top seeds, but with their results this year, is that where you want to put your money? This quarter is loaded with young talent like Keys and Lisicki looking to pop out, and veterans like Jankovic and Kuznetsova. This quarter is a complete toss-up.

3rd Quarter

Another quarter pitting new wave (Muguruza, Bencic, Gavrilova, Svitolina) against old wave (Azarenka, Vinci, Wozniacki, Stosur). The resurgent Azarenka is the wild card here among the oldies. Third round could feature Muguruza vs. Stosur and Azarenka vs. Wozniacki. Don’t know if Muguruza has her head right yet, so a Bencic vs. Azarenka quarterfinal meeting could determine the semifinalist here.

Bottom Quarter

(2) Kerber is the queen after the Aussie Open win, and she’s been given a queen-like draw in the bottom quarter. (6) Suarez Navarro is the next-highest seed, grouped with iffy seeded performers such as Stephens, Ivanovic and Bacsinszky. Kerber should be the only thing standing between Kerber and the semis here.

Serena, after withdrawing last year in the semis against Halep citing injury, and this year along with Venus’ comeback should be pumped for a title. I’ll go with Serena d. Kerber in the final for some Aussie Open revenge.


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30 Comments for Serena Leads, Sharapova Drugged Out of Indian Wells; Preview

Jack Lewis Says:

“Just because the majority of Russian athletes take it, and Russian athletics totally skirts IOC drug rules”

Yep, and little known fact; Lance Armstrong was a russian spy.
Trump will fix all that stuff.

Van Persie Says:

Lol Jack Lewis, Trump’s biggest Problem is China at the moment :)
Dear Chinese, no offence, I like U guys!

chrisford1 Says:

Maybe Trump CAN fix that, Jack. Give Lance the treatment Trump proposes for American citizens who join ISIS. Inactivate their passports. Armstrong leaves America, he gets stuck overseas. With ISIS – the intent leave them stuck in Syria as warplane and drone target and polish them off before they can re-infiltrate America. With Lance – tell him to have a good life biking around Russia, and avoid France.

Maria? Keep her. Half of US Celebs are far sleazier than Sharapova could even imagine being.

chrisford1 Says:

AS far as the mighty US ONLY food and drug regulator, the FDA only has power to ban a large range of drugs and foodstuffs being sold, but has no power to stop people from buying such things overseas and importing them.
Customs and DEA make up the banned for import lists.

The American drug safety bureaucracy is irrelevant in this debate. No one outside the USA really cares about another messed up American agency – as the FDA is 20 years behind the Euros and Asians in bringing drugs to market. And things tested safe elsewhere and in constant use are still banned by the FDA because they haven’t done their own tests on a medicinal herb used by 15 million CHinese daily or a diabetes drug used by 23 million Swiss, Germans Russians, etc. each year.

J-Kath Says:

I just hope Grigor Dimitrov decides to go and give Maria a hug….even though they have parted. She may be an idiot and a “doper” but oh my whatever she is she will really be suffering….I’m pretty neutral towards her like?/dislike? but right now I want to put my arms around her and let her cry.

madmax Says:


Funny sarcasm there.

I certainly don’t want to give her a hug. But also I think that she should be heard fairly and squarely. You said earlier that she was suspended for 4 years? How come when there has not yet been a process JKath?]

I Couldn’t find your source?

jalep Says:

A quick glance made me think Serena’s draw is too easy, but I usually think that.
Top half
Serena v Errani round of 16 I hope. Serena v Venus or Simona QF. But Petkovic, Strycova or a surprise quarter-finalist looks very possible.

Aga’s and Petra’s paths to the QF is a mine- field. Petra is unpredictable and Aga’s SF performance in Doha still haunts me.

Bottom half looks wild!
Chaos maybe. I see lots of great match-ups and upset alert’s.

When in doubt, pick Serena.
The draws: Qualies and Main are missing Doha runner-up, new WTA #40, Jelena Ostapenko; disappointing to see – hope she makes it into Miami.

jalep Says:

Sorry. Wrong thread. I’ll move it!

jalep Says:

hahaha I guess it’s not the wrong thread.

J-Kath Says:


I heard of the 4 year ban on BBC TV today on the 1.00pm news. As did everybody else in the UK who heard and saw the programme.

I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said I wanted to hug her – I was in tears myself…not that she has been my favourite but simply because her world is crashing.

Van Persie Says:

Hi Jalep, the right tread…but not so many discussions about tennis today. Everybody seams to be shocked.

My favorite is Simona, but I cannot expect much from her. Was not at her best lately. Hope she will make it to 3 round, honestly

Dennis Says:

4 years is the max ban, not what she has received (the tribunal process hasn’t played out yet, so all she has now is a provisional ban). No way she will get 4 years, especially if the mitigating circumstances are as strong as she claims for therapeutic use.

jalep Says:

ah, Wie gehts, Van Persie 😉

I love Simona. But agree. She needs the nose surgery or something; until then, 3rd round is about it. Makarova hasn’t been on good form either – can even see Alison Riske get an upset in that section!

Kerber – have to see how she does. She was over-played after Fed Cup. Mugu, Vika — a bunch of the seeds have been questionable. The young-ish guns are the ones I have my eyes on.

Will post my daily WTA picks here on the appropriate thread when as daily schedules come out. Have to take my car in again for its issues. Later…

Van Persie Says:

Alles gut, Jalep ;). Danke. Hoffe bei dir auch :)

Will also go offline. will see your picks tomorrow.

Byes and have a great day ;)

J-Kath Says:

Dennis…that is possibly true but the four years was definitely stated….and she’s not in a good place right now…her lawyers and appeals will certainly help..but she will never be able to forget or dismiss the effect of what has happened.

At the end of it all…will she ever want to play again?

Wog Boy Says:


Nice words from you and you are right, I hope that Grigor at least phoned Maria to give her some sort of support, that’s what real gentlemen do. Is Grigor one of them, I hope he is.

Wog Boy Says:

“Just because the majority of Russian athletes take it, and Russian athletics totally skirts IOC drug rules, doesn’t mean anything.”

Ahh those bad Russians, if it wasn’t for them this world would be peaceful and prosperous paradise..

skeezer Says:

“Ahh those bad Russians, if it wasn’t for them this world would be peaceful and prosperous paradise..”

Wog Boy Says:

Ahh these squeaky clean Americans with panic rooms, Armstrong like champions and others..keep it coming, I need good laugh this morning.

Roger Nadal Says:

Sharapova and 2 other Russian athletes have now tested for this banned drug, so no I do not think it was taken for reasons other than to enhance performance. I will not miss her disgraceful unapologetic lack of sportsmanship of screaming down all opponents and turning her back on the serving player. (Plus, she has not hit a volley in 10 years either)

J-Kath Says:


AndyMira Says:

You’re right..too early for maria’s good to know that you can laugh on someone’s bad luck Jeremy Davies!Everybody makes mistakes in their lives but that doesn’t mean we can take pleasure from it..

AndyMira Says:

I’m sorry but have to ask this..why TennisX still didn’t make a preview on men’s draw?

jalep Says:

Well Van Persie, looking over the order of play for Wednesday, I won’t bother with daily picks because there is so many of them and I’m not sure how die-hard a WTA fan you are. And I know that most posters here don’t care!

If I was in Indian Wells I’d be like a kid at Disneyland — running from match to match and checking the practice court schedule – Love early rounds.

Here’s what I just posted on Tenngrand after looking at the draw a bit more:

Top Half Highlights
Serena v Errani; Venus v Halep. Then, Serena v Venus QF. An Indian Wells first!

A.Radwanksa v Kvitova QF.
But Aga has the worst Draw: Cibulkova, Kuznetsova, Jankovic, Kvitova (this isn’t Petra’s favorite event). Would not be surprised if both Aga and Petra go out early.

Bottom Half is so much fun.
Bencic v Dasha, Svitolina v Vinci, Vika v Woz, Stosur v Muguruza, Suarez-Navarro v Darling Daria Kasatkina, Stephens v Bacszinsky, Ivanovic v Pliskova, Kerber v Konta

Vinci v Vika QF and Kerber v Suarez-Navarro QF.

Serena over Aga and Vinci over Suarez-Navarro SF’s

Serena over Vinci Final 😋
It could all go very differently – that’s WTA!

Van Persie Says:

Hola Jalep,

I would say, we will have a Serena-Kerber final. Should Carla play Angie, I do not give Carla to many chances. We’ll see

jalep Says:

Hola, Gluten-free Morgan, VP :D

My reasons for picking CSN over Angie are indeed flimsy and wrong perhaps. But, 1) not sure about Kerber’s form and 2) impressed with CSN’s aggressive play and how she won the 900 point Doha title two weeks ago 3) It’s reported by WTA insider that CSN has been seeing a sport psychologist and I think it must be working. Never have seen her play with so much confidence. She’s at a career high ranking now.

I’ll be happy if it’s a Serena – Kerber final too! Vinci is playing better than ever at 33 or 34, whatever age she is. Nice to see her follow-up her USO win over Serena.

My favorite match of 2016 Aga v Roberta Doha QF:

jalep Says:

Doha final – future #1, 18 yr. old, Ostapenko v best SHBH in tennis – underrated Carla Suarez-Navarro!

Van Persie Says:

Hi Jalep,
It is evening for me already ;)
I like Agie Radwanska a lot.
Thanks for the link, will have a look later on this. Going now offline. Going out for dinner.

PS: I can tolerate gluten well ;)

Diane Says:

FDA approval means nothing. The FDA is a politicized body that approves anything that has enough cash attached to it. It has failed to approve many meds that can save people’s health and lives. And–the FDA gave clearance on all of Sharapova’s imported meds.

60 athletes in trouble so far–and this happening just before Rio, Really. There is no legitimate reason for Meldonium to be on the ban list–it’s hardly a ped. This is the ITF–which has a shady history–at its destructive best.

Wog Boy Says:


To use somebody else’s line:

Preach it Diane, preach it. You are pretty much right with everything, starting from timing to ” illegal substance” itself, very very dodgy from WADA.

Let me just go one month back, what happened with those match fixing allegations whose timing was “accidentally” just prior and during AO, targeting who? Nobody is even talking anymore about them. What a joke:)

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