Indian Wells | Swiatek sails, upsets and wins on Day 3

The sun finally came out on Friday in the California desert, banishing the rain that had dogged the first 2 days of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, and World No 1 Iga Swiatek celebrated in some style with an emphatic win over Danielle Collins, and was joined in the Last 32 by seeds Marketa Vondrousova, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Jasmine Paolini, while upset wins included Katie Volynet over Ons Jabeur, Angelique Kerber getting past Jelena Ostapenko, and Caroline Wozniacki seeing off Donna Vekic.

I’m happy that I started this tournament well, because first rounds aren’t easy – especially against Danielle, she’s really hitting the ball hard, and pretty unpredictable, so I wanted to be ready for everything, and I’m happy that I’m through. Iga Świątek

The top half of the draw opened up significantly for Swiatek when 4th-seeded Elena Rybakina, the defending champion and her potential semi-final opponent, withdrew because of illness in the 2nd-round.

“It is with great sadness I must announce, I will not be able to participate at this years Indian Wells tournament due to gastrointestinal issues,” she said. “Those close to me know how much this tournament means to me, and how much I wanted to come back and defend my title.

“I would like to thank all the fans who came out here to support me and I am sorry they will not get a chance to see me play this year.

“Now I will rest and recover so I can come out and play and compete for my fans to the best of my abilities once again.”

The 24-year-old Russian-born Kazakh, who won Wimbledon in 2022, and is currently ranked World No 4, was replaced in the singles draw by lucky loser Kayla Day of the USA.

Iga Swiatek needed all her athleticism to dominate Danielle Collins on Day 3 at Indian Wells

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First on Stadium 1 was Swiatek, who had edged Collins in an epic encounter at the Australian Open, and the 22-year old Pole looked determined to get past the American in quicker time on this occasion, taking 81 minutes.

They were on serve, with Swiatek leading 4-3 in the first set, when the top seed changed gears and broke to love for 5-3, polished off the set, and delivered the 70th bagel of her career, winning the final 9 games to advance at the tournament she won in 2022.

“I started to make a few less mistakes, which gave Danielle a chance to make a few more,” Swiatek said after her 6-3 6-0 win. “It’s a small difference but, at the end, I was ready to play well in those important moments, on break points and stuff like that.

“I’m happy I kept my focus, and stayed with my game, no matter what Danielle was doing on the other side of the net.”

Collins announced in January that she will retire at the end of the season, so this is expected to be the 30-year-old’s final appearance at Indian Wells.

The American beat Swiatek decisively to reach the Australian Open final in 2022, and achieved a career high ranking of World No 7.

“I’m happy that I started this tournament well, because first rounds aren’t easy – especially against Danielle, she’s really hitting the ball hard, and pretty unpredictable, so I wanted to be ready for everything, and I’m happy that I’m through,” Swiatek added.

Swiatek has come off the Middle East swing, where she won her 3rd straight title in Doha, and reached the semi-finals in Dubai.

Her team, led by coach Tomasz Witkorowski and psychologist Dara Abramowicz, are trying to trim down her schedule, but Swiatek still wants to do it all.

“I’m still, kind of, thinking about it, but I’m at the stage that I want to play everything,” Swiatek told the media. “Especially the tournaments that I know I feel really comfortable at.

“For sure, before Olympics, it will be really hard to decide, ‘Oh, I’m going to miss this one’. Just to stay fresh and have the appropriate time for recovery. So we’ll see. But if it’s going to be necessary, we will do that.”

Next, Swiatek will face the young Czech, Linda Noskova, who knocked her out of the Australian Open in the 3rd-round, and is seeded 26 here.

The 19-year old defeated Camila Giorgi, 6-3 7-5, in her opener, the Italian having taken out Britain’s Katie Boulter in straight sets in round 1.

Local wild-card Katie Volynets pulled off her second upset of the week beating 6th seed Ons Jabeur on Friday

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Meanwhile, 22-year-old American Katie Volynets, wild-carded into the draw, stunned 6th seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia, 6-4 6-4, and will face the former World No, Caroline Wozniacki, in the 3rd round after the Dane outlasted Donna Vekic, the No 25 seed from Croatia, 7-6(5) 6-3.

Jabeur has not had an easy time of it recently, starting the season slowly before this match, which included a thrashing at the Australian Open by teenage Russian prodigy Mirra Andreeva.

California-born Volynets shocked Andreeva in the previous round at Indian Wells, which gave her confidence heading into this encounter in front of her local fans.

Struggling with an on-going knee issue, the Tunisian’s game is off, and she did not look comfortable against the gritty 22-year old, although she managed some trademark moments of magic, with a couple of incredible drop-shots, but the American’s consistency was leading her into a load of errors.

“I’m definitely pleased with how I was able to execute today,” Volynets said. “I think it was very close the entire time. She was throwing in some amazing drop-shots and slices and injecting some pace. I’m glad I was able to overcome that.”

There were 4 consecutive breaks of serve from 2-1 in the opening set, and despite Jabeur being able to build a 4-2 lead, her unwillingness to patiently work points proved her undoing.

Volynets began to read the Jabeur serve better and better, and while the No 6 seed settled down more at the start of the second, with 3 comfortable holds, she became wilder on return and from the baseline, and failed to put any real pressure on the American.

Jabeur dropped serve in the 7th game, and looked to be struggling physically against the athletic Volynets, who served out the match to claim the biggest win of her career.

“I’m so honoured to have a wild-card here, and I’m so honoured to play Ons,” Volynets said on court. “I’ve been watching her on TV for years, so it’s just such an honour to play here on this court, against such a wonderful player.”

Former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki took out Donna Vekic, the No 25 seed, to play Katie Volynets in the Last 32

© Michael Owens/Getty Images

Wozniacki, the 2011 Indian Wells champion, needed 1 hour and 42 minutes to improve to 3-0 against Vekic and 6-0 in sets.

The Dane came from an early break behind to start the match, and from 2-4 down in the middle of the tiebreak, to score her 3rd win against a Top 50 player since her return to the tour last August.

The win is also Wozniacki’s 325th career victory over an opponent ranked in that range, which is the most of any player born after 1990.

“Donna is a great competitor, great player. I thought we both played really well today. Just happy to be through this one,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “I’m here because I love to be here. You know, I’m lucky enough that I have been given some wild-cards, so I’m able to play these big tournaments, and compete against the best players in the world.”

Angelique Kerber scored her biggest win in 3 years with an impressive 5-7 6-3 6-3 victory over Jelena Ostapenko, the hard-hitting Latvian and No 10 seed.

The German, who returned to the tour in January after 18 months on maternity leave, fired an un-returnable serve on match point to seal her first win over a Top 10 opponent since November 2021.

“This question I heard a lot, why I’m back and what gives me the motivation,” the 3-times Grand Slam champion said. “For me, the biggest motivation is the love for the sport. I love to compete, being out there today as well, having this crowd, having the emotions, this gives me everything.

“Now, having my daughter on my side, it’s even more inspiring for me to have her, and there’s something bigger than tennis as well.”

Angelique Kerber, another former World No 1, upset 10th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko at Indian Wells on Friday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Elsewhere, 7th-seeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova, Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and Jasmine Paolini were among the other players to advance to the 3rd round of the WTA 1000 event in the California desert.

Vondrousova, was an easy 6-0 6-2 winner over American qualifier Bernarda Pera, and she will meet Kostyuk, the No 31 seed, who defeated Japan’s Mai Hontama, 6-4 6-2, while Haddad Maia, seeded 12, beat another qualifier, Rebecca Sramkova from Slovakia, 7-5 6-2, and the Brazilian will take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 22nd seed, next, a 6-3 6-1 winner over Spanish qualifier Nuria Parrizas Diaz.

Italian Jasmine Paolini, the No 13 seed, beat Germany’s Tatjana Maria, 6-3 6-3, to reach the 3rd round on Friday night.

The Dubai champion, ranked 14, extended her win streak to 6 matches and will play Russian Anna Kalinskaya, the No 21 seed, who outlasted American qualifier Taylor Townsend, 7-5 3-6 6-4.



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