Sunday 17 December 2017 / 05:56 AM

Indian Wells – Week 1

It’s fair to say that this year’s Indian Wells has not been the most predictable tennis tournament so far, and as we head into the second week, it’s no easier to predict a winner than it was when things kicked off on Thursday.

Not a walk in the park for Rafa

 

Over in the men’s side of the draw, holder Rafa Nadal enjoyed a bye through to the second round but still had to be at close to his best to defeat Radek Stepanek in round two; with the Czech forcing the explosive Spaniard into three sets.

It’s not been much easier for Novak Djokovic, who battled to overcome Victor Hanescu in two sets in the second round. The former world number one was forced to defend two set points during that victory and now faces a third round tie against Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez before a potential date with Tommy Robredo in the last-16.

The British hope has had to battle too, with Andy Murray forced to three sets in his only game so far. He takes on Jiri Vesely in the third round, with Milos Raonic likely to be his opponent in the fourth round if all goes to plan. It has been rather easier for the Swiss contingent with both Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer enjoying straight sets victories in their games so far.

However, despite the usual suspects making their way through to the last-16, there have been a number of high profile exits along the way. Perhaps the biggest shock of all has been the early exit of Tomas Berdych, beaten in straight sets by the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, with the Czech number one swift to proclaim the defeat as the “worst” he has played so far this year.

Number nine seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was beaten in straight sets too whilst Juan Martin del Potro didn’t even make it out to court after making the decision that his wrist problem was so severe that it was not worth potentially injuring it further.

The long and short of these high profile exits is that it now seems all the more likely that the tournament will be won by one of the big boys, and whichever one is able to maintain consistency when faced with sterner tests is most likely to end up as the winner.

Radwanska and Li are the early forerunners in the women’s draw

 

Over in the women’s tournament, Li Na was no doubt hoping for an easier ride after it was confirmed that Serena Williams wouldn’t be participating in this year’s tournament, and she has swept through to third round, beating compatriot Jie Zheng in straight sets along the way.

Russian superstar Maria Sharapova certainly seems in good form too, kicking off her campaign with a routine victory over Julia Goerges in the second round. Czech rival Petra Kvitova is looking good too, only losing four games in her opening game against Coca Vandeweghe.

Perhaps the biggest upset in the women’s draw so far has been the victory of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard over Sara Errani in the third round. Bouchard was seeded nine places lower than Errani, but the Canadian has shown that she is anything but an also ran in this competition with an emphatic 6-3 6-3 victory over the Italian.

If Li has a real challenger, though, it surely comes in the form of Agnieska Radwanska. The world number three has been utterly ruthless in the tournament so far, inflicting a crushing 6-0 6-0 defeat on world number 48 Annika Beck in the third round. With Serena out of the equation, it seems likely that either Li or Radwanska is likely to end up with the trophy and the prize money this time around.

 

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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