Indian Wells 2019

Indian Wells 2019: Muguruza advances past sick Williams; Konta edged by Bertens

Garbine Muguruza advances past the sick Serena Williams to reach the round of 16 at Indian Wells

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta (Photo: Dubai Duty Free Championships)

It was certainly an eventful day in the women’s draw at Indian Wells on a chill Sunday.

Serena Williams had quickly discovered that getting back into the top 10 in time for one of the biggest tournaments of the year, did her no favours in the draw. Of all the women she could have met in her opening match, it was one of her greatest rivals, fellow mother Victoria Azarenka, still unseeded, who fell against her name.

And it was as cracking a contest as most of their previous matches had been. Williams survived, but it took more than two hours and two intense sets to seal the deal, 7-5, 6-3.

Then Williams faced, in her first seed, multiple Major champion and former No1 Garbine Muguruza, ranked here at 20 after a dip in her results in the last year or so.

It would be their first meeting since 2016, and their first ever in anything other than a Major. Their last two contests, indeed, determined Major titles: the most recent saw Muguruza win the French Open, the previous one saw Williams take the Wimbledon title.

This was, then, a highly-anticipated encounter, especially so early in draw. But it soon became clear that Williams had a problem. After winning the first three games, the tall Spaniard swept six games for the first set, 6-3, and the 37-year-old former Indian Wells champion called for the trainer.

Unfortunately, Williams lasted just one more game, looked weak and dizzy, and retired 0-1 down in the second set.

She explained afterwards:

“Before the match, I did not feel great and then it just got worse with every second—extreme dizziness and fatigue.

“By the score, it might have looked like I started well, but I was not feeling at all well physically. I will focus on getting better and start preparing for Miami.”

The Miami Premier Mandatory follows hot on the heels of Indian Wells, and has given Williams some of the best results in a career packed by great results, no fewer than eight titles, a remarkable 75-9 history. She will be eager to be back at full fitness for that one.

Muguruza next faces No7 seed Kiki Bertens, who beat Briton Johanna Konta in one of the best matches of the day, another two-hour plus encounter of two tight sets that belied Konta’s current lowly ranking of 45.

After an early exchange of breaks, the first set was in the balance until well into the second hour, as the tie-break extended the women to the limits. Each held three set points, but stayed on level terms until 11-10, and Konta netted a backhand to concede the set, 7-6(10).

Now Bertens managed to maintain her aggressive tennis while keeping her error count down compared with the Briton’s 42, and sealed her first fourth-round run in the tournament, 6-4, after breaking in the ninth game.

World No2 Simona Halep, winner in 2015, survived a strong challenge from qualifier Kateryna Kozlova, 7-6 (3), 7-5. However, the 18-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, one of five teenagers in the top 100, stunned No22 seed Jelena Ostapenko, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, to set a fourth-round contest with Halep.

Elsewhere, No6 seed Elina Svitolina beat Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-4, while there were also wins for China’s Qiang Wang, who beat No16 seed Elise Mertens, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-3, and for Ashleigh Barty, who beat Jennifer Brady, 6-3, 6-2.

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