It still feels a bit surreal that we are sat watching tennis being played in the scorching heat of Indian Wells in early October but here we are and on Friday night some of the stars in mens and women’s tennis delivered!
Simona Halep’s return to the dessert
It feels like a lifetime ago that Simona Halep won in Indian Wells back in 2015 and one of the only former champions out there has gotten off to a good start winning 7-6 6-1 over Marta Kostyuk.
It was a mixture of two performances in one against the Ukrainian, the first set I didn’t think she played with much momentum but did well to keep with the pace that Marta set. It was a hit and miss set for Simona, I didn’t think her forehand found the rhythm she was looking for but in the tie-break she found that extra level.
The extra level followed Halep in the second set and was tough for Marta to reset, the break early on felt like curtains for her as the Romanian went up the gears to a seal the win, a much needed one if she is going to keep a slim hope of getting to Guadalaraja alive.
Emma Raducanu’s dessert debut!
There has been a lot of things said since Emma’s loss to Sasnovich in Indian Wells, she is the US Open champion but this is all still very new and a learning curve for the British number one. Success comes with pressure from the outside but it is still about learning and that’s the same whether you’ve just broken onto the tour or been on it for many years.
Aliaksandra is not a push over by any stretch of the imagination, I think it is expected to not maintain such an incredible level from New York. This is all still very new for Emma, she’s only played a couple of tour matches and not won one yet on the WTA tour, right now it is about learning and building for the future.
Andy Murray see’s off Adrian Mannarino
A very good start to the tournament for Andy Murray, the Brit has never found his feet at Indian Wells over the year but he put on a well drilled and effective performance against the left handed Frenchman.
Mannarino on his day is good to watch, he is someone I would describe as going “with the flow” and 10 wins and now 21 defeats in 2021 does not show the flow is helping. Murray defended exceptionally well and the Frenchman had a plan up until a point, how could he move the Brit and he simply couldn’t. Adrian didn’t see his first break point until actually the last game of the match but Murray maintained full control winning 6-3 6-2 in 83 minutes setting up a Sunday meeting with Carlos Alcaraz.
Fernandez impresses on debut!
The rise of Leylah Fernandez has been equally impressive of late, the Canadian took to the Indian Wells court like she’s been out there for many years.
What strikes me the most about her game is her confidence behind her groundstrokes. They are brutal but there is a quick reset to the next point. She played some of the best points I had seen in New York and reset and went again.
Against Alize Cornet she did show control, she played her game and ask questions of the French woman. Leylah won 6-3 6-2 and sets up a meeting with French Open finalist, Pavlyuchenkova which on form she has to be considered the favourite for.