Today was the first day of ATP action in the desert and it was the final day without seeds in action for the WTA. The stands were relatively empty today and I wouldn’t say Stadium 1 was even a tenth full. Sorry for the lateness of the post, my laptop was playing up with my internet.
In the first Stadium 1 match, Karen Khachanov won his first ever masters match as he defeated a former Indian Wells quarterfinalist in Tommy Robredo 6-1, 7-5. Khachanov was very solid throughout and put in a really decent service display which included 12 aces. This Russian has been on my radar for a while ever since he got that set of Nishikori at the US Open last year and won the title in Chengdu. It looked like the match would go to three sets when Roberedo was 3-5 up with a set point but Khachanov managed to fight his way out of that hole and take it in straights over a two time quarterfinalist at this tournament. David Goffin is next up Khachanov in the second round.
Next up on Stadium 1 was the return of Jelena Jankovic to Indian Wells, where she broke the record for most appearances at the tournament as she made her 16th appearance. Irina Falconi was her opponent today and they have very similar styles with hard hitting but there was inconsistency. Jankovic came out striking the ball really well and Falconi was missing a lot so it was smooth sailing for the Serbian as she won the first set 6-2. Falconi tightened up her game for the second set and she was playing a lot better tennis and even though Jankovic was still solid the scores were levelled after Falconi took the set 6-3. Jankovic broke early in the third set but then Falconi broke again to level it at 2-2. Jankovic broke again to lead 4-3 before errors came back in to Falconi’s game and Jankovic took the next two with ease to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. This sets up Jankovic to player Venus Williams in the second round and that match should be really fun.
Our feature match was the next won to come on to to Stadium 1 as Francis Tiafoe was taking on qualifier Dusan Lajovic. Tiafoe started very slowly and made a lot of errors on the way to Lajovic capturing a 4-0 lead. From here Tiafoe played two games where he was switched on and he hit some really good shots, especially a beautiful passing shot down the line to get one of the breaks back and get the score to 4-2. From there Tiafoe went back to make quite a few errors and even though he managed to capture a service game he lost the set 6-3. In the second set it was much the same as the first set with Lajovic going out early to capture a significant lead with Tiafoe hitting quite a few errors. This time Tiafoe wasn’t able to play his good tennis at all in the set but he just got to scrape through three service games as Lajovic captured the match 6-3, 6-3. This is Lajovic’s first ever main draw win in Indian Wells and he will go on to face Feliciano Lopez in the second round
Donna Vekic was the last winner from the day session on Stadium 1 as she defeated the home favourite Alison Riske, who was coming off some great wins in Fed Cup and a great start to the year. There was nothing separating the two at the start of the first set as Riske was really getting all of Vekic’s power shots back and there were some really epic rallies. Eventually Riske put in a shaky service game and Vekic got a break to lead 5-3 before she served out the opening set 6-3. Throughout the second set neither of the girls were very consistent and they’re were a lot of unforced errors coming off both racquets throughout. there were three breaks of serve on the way to the tiebreaker but in the reader it was Vekic who tightened up her game and took the match 6-3, 7-6(7-2). She will go up against Simona Halep in the second round next.
Annika Beck was the first night session winner of the day as she got the victory over Eugenie Bouchard. This was a bog opportunity for Bouchard to get to the second round and try to get some more matches for the season because she hasn’t done much at all outside of Australia. Bouchard was playing good tennis in the first set and a lot of the time Beck wasn’t able to do much with the Canadian painting the lines with her shots as she took the first set 6-3. From here, Beck cleaned up her game and really improved on the unforced error count and Bouchard dropped her intensity. This made the scales spill Beck’s way and Bouchard was on the back foot from the start of both sets and Beck eventually got the win 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. This loss from Bouchard when she was in a powerful position and looked set to get the victory makes me wonder when, and if, she will get her feet back and retake her position as one of the ones to watch in every tournament. Beck goes on to face the in-form Kristina Mladenovic in the second round.
The final night match saw Ryan Harrison become the ninth American to fall on Stadium 1 as he got defeated by Damir Dzhumur. This will be a really tough loss for Harrison to take because he’s playing the best tennis of his career and he’s just fallen in front of his home crowd when a lot of eyes would have been on him. Harrison was making a lot of errors throughout the match and it was quite a high quality affair and it came down to who got that extra ball back in the end, and that was Dzhumur today. Dzhumur has played really well recently as he ousted Wawrinka in Dubai and now this win against quite a strong Harrison. The main taken away from this matches the four racquets he smashed at the end of the third set, three of them after he’d lost the match. He did penalised for this but the fine hasn’t come out but I’m hoping that the tournament won’t go soft on him because he’s young or because it is at his home tournament.