The seeds join the party!

My three favorite WTA players - including my second favorite Belgian person ever - debut today

 

Money, fame, respect (or maybe not), titles, more money and fame and… byes. That sums up what you get for being a top tennis player.

Not sure I’m a fan of the Byes – the famous 1st round walkovers – even more at Indian Wells and Miami, where not the first two seeds (it happens at some WTA tours), or the four (most common), the eight of the other Masters or even sixteen (an absurd only seen at the Washington tournie, if I’m not wrong). But yes 32 PLAYERS SKIPPING THE 1ST ROUND. Too much, in my opinion. I understand the first two American Masters want to compete with the Grand Slams, which have a 128-player draw. But for some reason – maybe to not be confused with the four Majors – since… ’02 or ’03, not so sure, they have adopted a 96-player draw. But even so, 32 byes are just too much. It’s a privilege for the best ranked players, who have their fitness spared, I understand that. But the chances of an early upset are ridiculously low, and to be honest, upsets are the spirit of tennis (unless your fave was the one who lost).

Digression apart, will talk here about the 2nd round of Indian Wells, which starts today for the women.

 

On purpose or not, the defending champion Jelena Jankovic is set to open the activities on the main stage – Stadium 1 – playing the homegirl and invitee Coco Vandeweghe. Playing her best tennis in ages, JJ – who’s straight out of three semifinals in three consecutive weeks, including one final lost last week – starts her title defense campaign against an American – her first opponent from Uncle Sam’s homeland this year, and the first since Serena Williams back in Rome semifinals. A funny fact over JJ and Rome, she achieved her only three wins vs. Americans – and her only face-offs with them – there. Just like Indian Wells, Jankovic debuted vs. an American out of a bye – Mattek-Sands. She then defeated Venus (QF) and Serena (SF) to reach the final – which she lost to Martinez Sanchez. (Didn’t remember that. Really, JJ?); Indian Wells is the second tournament on which JJ has a 1st round bye – back at Dubai, she had no difficulties to get past Scheepers in the opener. The former no.1 has achieved only one opener loss this year, at her first event, in Sydney (l. to Rezai); out of bye, her last loss in the opener was at Moscow (l. to Diyas; 2nd to last tournament).

Coco Vandeweghe stat: The 19-year old, 6’1” teen from California will play a top-10 for the first time since the Fed Cup final – lost to Schiavone. At WTA events, last played was Zvonareva, in the SFs of San Diego – and she won! She’s 1-1 vs. top-10 (exc. Fed Cup) – her only loss came against Jankovic herself in the 1st round of the US Open (2008).

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3rd on Stadium 1, the winner of the last two Grand Slams, Kim Clijsters, will make her debut vs. the Russian Kudryavtseva, who defeated Sorana Cirstea in the 1st round. Trying to extend her finals streak up to five tournaments (US Open, Masters in ’10, Sydney, Melbourne and Paris this year) and regain the world no.1, Kim will play a Russian for the 5th time this year – and she’s 4-0 so far. Since she returned to pro circuit, Clijsters hasn’t lost an opener (17 tours – ruling out Masters), and the last Russian-born woman not called Vera Zvonareva to beat her was Alisa Kleybanova – in the 3rd round of this very same Indian Wells tournament; All at the same event – Kim’s last opener loss, last loss after a bye and last tournament: Warsaw 2007. Back then, lost to no.61 Julia Vakulenko (UKR).

Alla Kudryavtseva stat: The 23-yo Russian will try to get past 2nd round for the first time this year; will also play a top-10 for the 2nd time (l. to Jankovic, Australian Open); She already defeated a player ranked no.2 in the world in a second round before – Maria Sharapova, at Wimbledon 2008. Kim better watch out! (heh)

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Starting the quest for her 2nd Indian Wells title, Vera Zvonareva will square-off against a player born in Lausanne. No, I don’t mean Stan this time – it’s Timea Bacsinszky, currently ranked inside the top-50. The world no.3, who won her last four matches in order to capture at Doha her 11th lifetime title, will for the fourth time this year start her campaign after a bye – she’s 2-1 after losing her 2011 debut at Sydney (Pennetta); 2nd on Stadium 2, Vera will contest vs. Timea her 1st match vs. a Swiss player since 2006 – when lost to both Martina Hingis at the Australian Open 1st round and Patty Schnyder at Linz quarterfinals.

Timea Bacsinszky stat: Has won only two main draw matches this year – IW opener and in Dubai, to 5 losses. Vera will be both her 1st top-10 and the 1st Russian opponent she’s playing this year (last was Vesnina at Beijing 3rd round); Last top-10 she played was Victoria Azarenka (no.10) also in China, for the 2nd round – and she won after Vika retired leading a set. Last year, played only one other match vs. top-10, losing to Serena.

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With a levelled record this year (6-6) and a poor one at Indian Wells (more losses than wins), Francesca Schiavone will try to wipe a three-loss skid vs. the right-handed Czech player (not that common) Zuzana Ondraskova. Schiavone, who peaked at no.4 in the world a few weeks ago, will challenge a Czech player for the first time in over a year – last one was Lucie Safarova in Paris, match she lost. After that, played Safarova again, this time for Fed Cup, and won; last player from Czech Republic not called Lucie Safarova Francy has played, Petra Kvitova, at Madrid-09 2nd round – and she won; This year, Schiavone dropped three of her openers – Sydney, Doha and Kuala Lumpur – with Doha accounting for her last opener loss after a Bye.

Zuzana Ondraskova stat: Was 0-7 this year before winning Indian Wells opener; Last time she played an Italian in a main draw match, she ended up with the victory – was vs. Roberta Vinci at Budapest ’10, and she sealed the win with a bagel in the 2nd set! Last time she played a top-10, Stuttgart-07 – lost to Serena (who was #7 at the time)

 

Other seeds in action today:

#19 Ana Ivanovic vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm

Despite playing three tournies, Ana has achieved only two wins – both of them in the same place (Pattaya), losing her opener at the Australian Open and Dubai. Kimiko Date-Krumm is the first Japanese she will play this year, and the first since Bali semifinals – then again, played Date-Krumm. The last Japanese player different from KDK Ivanovic played at WTA level was Aiko Nakamura, back in 2007 (US Open); Date-Krumm will try to advance further than 2nd round for the first time this year, and the first since Bali; Ana was also the last Serbian she played.

 

#23 Yanina Wickmayer vs. Melanie Oudin

Let’s face it, she’s only here ’cause I like her. This year, Wicky only lost her opener at Sydney, when played Samantha Stosur (how unfortunate!); Fed Cup apart (Belgium played USA and Nina won her two matches), last American she played was also in an opener, but at Wimbledon – defeated Alison Riske in three tight sets. Melanie Oudin hasn’t gotten past 2nd round at a tour event since Quebec City, and since her break through run at the US Open in 2009 she hasn’t defeated a player ranked as high as Wickmayer is (#25).

 

#10 Shahar Peer vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Let’s face it, she’s only here because somehow she’s the 10th seed. Peer is 5-for-5 in debuts this year, and Indian Wells is the first tournament she has a bye; dating back to last year, she has won her last nine 1st rounders – since an early loss to Kaia Kanepi at Montreal; last American she played defeated her: Venus at the US Open; Played vs. USA seven times in 2010, with two wins (all over Mattek-Sands, whom she leads 4-0 in the H2H_ and seven losses, all of them to Serena or Venus. Mattek-Sands will play a top-15 opponent for the first time since Montreal – when lost to Clijsters; Last win over a top-15 player – d. #13 Bartoli at Ponte Vedra-09

 

#17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs. Anastasija Sevastova

Pavs already felt the dubious glory of losing an opener this year – and it was to BMS at Hobart (she went on to make the finals, btw); It doesn’t happen THAT often, but worth the mention: Pavs has won the three openers she ever played after a bye (Birmingham-09, IW and Miami-10). On her career, played only one player from Latvia: Sevastova herself – and she won both matches so far (make it three, girl!); Sevastova’s four runs this year ended by the hands of top-20 opponents (like Pavs), and she’s 0-4 vs. players ranked 20 or higher; Only played – and defeated – one Russian this year: Manasieva at the Australian Open. Her last two wins vs. top-20 came at Beijing: defeated Stosur in the opener after being one set down and the upset world no.17 Petrova (well, it was a walkover) before losing to then-no.15 Li Na.

 

Of course, these are not the only seeded players making their debut today – #12 Kvitova, #15 Bartoli, #25 Cibulkova and #21 Petkovic among others, but detailing their stats would make this post too long. Of course, I will post their stats on my Twitter, but if you want to know the stats of some player, just ask me and I’ll get it.

Hope you liked it!

 

All the best,

Peter S.

About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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