Britain’s Katie Swan qualified for the main draw at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Tuesday, but Katie Boulter bowed out, while Aryna Sabalenka & Taylor Fritz won the 2023 Eisenhower Cup charity exhibition played in the evening.
Swan upset qualifying top seed Dalma Galfi from Hungary, 6-4 7-6(6), before Boulter suffered a narrow 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4 loss to Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in the 2nd-round.
World No 156 Swan joins Emma Raducanu in the main draw, who was due to play with Cameron Norrie in the Eisenhower Cup, but pulled out at the last minute, giving rise to concerns over the British No 1’s fitness.
Raducanu has not played since the Australian Open, and has been dealing with tonsillitis in recent weeks.
Fans were treated to a Tiebreak Tens competition on Tuesday night aimed to help people in need while entertaining the crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with all proceeds from the event benefitting local women’s charitable organisations.
Eight teams signed up for the event and they produced some sparkling tennis in the fast-fire matches as the format called for the pairs to play a tiebreak, with the team winning 10 points advancing to the next round.
Maria Sakkari & Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Team Greek Freaks, teamed up to notch up the first win of the night when they defeated Norrie & Paula Badosa from Spain, who replaced Raducanu, 12-10, to advance to the semi-finals.
While Badosa & Norrie, the Team October Champs, took their contrasting game styles to the seasoned Greek duo, they came up just short in a great start to the competition.
Next up were the WTA’s World No 1, Iga Swiatek, & Hubert Hurkacz, Team Polish Power, who proved too strong a doubles team for Felix Auger-Aliassime & Leylah Fernandez, Team Québ´cois, comfortably beating the Canadian, 10-6.
With some great points, laughs in-between the rallies, and some resilient tennis from Fernandez against Hurkacz, who seemed to be twice her size, the crowd was smiling after this second match.
It wasn’t all about national partnerships, though, as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur & Casper Ruud from Norway, Team Slam Runners-Up, teamed up to dispatch local favourites Jessica Pegula and Tommy Paul, Team All-American, 10-5.
They produced one epic point that saw a miraculous bounce-back volley from Paul that had Jabeur falling over the net, but, ultimately, it was a bit of a blow-out by the team of two-time Grand Slam runners-up in 2022.
In the last match of the opening round, Belarusian Sabalenka & Taylor Fritz from the USA, Team Forehand Fear, successfully paired up to beat the last duo added to the event, Stan Wawrinka & Belinda Bencic, Team Swiss Gold, who couldn’t find their rhythm and lost 10-4.
Sabalenka & Fritz are known for their big forehands, but it was their serves that did all the damage in this speedy encounter with the pair of Swiss Olympic gold medalists.
In the semi-finals, Swiatek & Hurkacz continued their winning ways by taking out Sakkari & Tsitsipas, 10-7, and moving into the final to contest the winner-takes-all $200,000 cheque for a charity of the champions’ choice.
This was the most high-quality mixed doubles of the night, as both teams of compatriots executed their tactics with excellence, with Hubi an ace at the net, while Tsitsipas & Sakkari played with panache all over the court.
The Poles’ opponents proved to be Sabalenka & Fritz, who eliminated Jabeur & Ruud in the second semi-final, in a match that didn’t disappoint the fans at Indian Wells, as this year’s Australian Open champion and the defending champion BNP Paribas Open won through, 10-8, to advance to the final.
This contest produced the point of the night from Jabeur, who put on a show, but it wasn’t enough to get Team Slam Runners-Up past Team Forehand Fear.
In the final match, Sabalenka & Fritz proved to be the best team left standing after defeating Swiatek & Hurkacz, 10-8, to lift the Eisenhower Cup presented by Masimo trophy, and rounding off a brilliant night of exhibition tennis from all the 16 participating players.
Fritz experienced some family bonding on court, as the trophy was presented to him by his aunt, who happened to be a part of organisation supporting the event.