World No. 1 Simona Halep and fifth seed Karolina Pliskova on Friday eased through their BNP Paribas Open openers, but reigning Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza bit the dust in the California desert.
Halep beat Karolina’s sister Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 6-4, while Karolina eased past Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 to reach the third round of the combined WTA/ATP hardcourt tournament.
Muguruza became the first major casualty of the event, suffering a shock 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 defeat to world No. 100 Sachia Vickery.
“It slipped away a little bit from me,” Muguruza said. “I’m going to learn a lot from this match. I’m going to watch it and I’m going to see what went wrong.”
Third seed Muguruza was last year named WTA player of the year after winning titles in Wimbledon and Cincinnati. The 24-year-old also reached No. 1 in the world in September last year and was ranked third heading into Indian Wells.
This the Spaniard’s first loss to a player ranked in the 100s since she was beaten by Jana Cepelova (No. 124) at Wimbledon in 2016.
Muguruza had five double faults and had her serve broken five times in the 2 hour, 11 minute night match.
Crowd favorite Vickery posted her first career win over a top 10 player as she served masterfully and controlled the rallies with her ground strokes.
Vickery said the partisan crowd motivated her.
“The atmosphere really helped me even though I was feeling it a bit physically. I kept telling myself ‘just do your best,’” the 22-year-old said.
Halep roared into the third round by overpowering Kristyna in straight sets.
The 26-year-old Romanian is to meet US wildcard Caroline Dolehide, who beat Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
“I was ready to play. I was ready to work and ready to fight,” Halep said. “It wasn’t an easy match, but I am really happy I won my first match here and I get a chance to play again.”
Halep and Caroline Wozniacki have been taking turns at No. 1 this year. Wozniacki took the ranking after beating Halep in three sets in the Australian Open final, but Halep reclaimed it from her just prior to Indian Wells.
Wozniacki was to play her first match of the tournament yesterday against qualifier Lara Arruabarrena.
Halep won three out of the final four games in the second set, claiming victory when her opponent sailed a forehand long on the first match point.
Fifth-ranked Karolina Pliskova smashed four aces and won 76 percent of her first serve points in her 92 minute victory over Begu.
The Czech, who turns 26 on March 22, is hoping to improve on her semi-final finish here last year, part of a stellar campaign that saw her win titles in Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne and rise as high as No. 1 in the world in July last year.
Elsewhere, ninth seed Petra Kvitova won her 14th straight match to equal the longest winning streak of her career by outlasting Yulia Putintseva 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, and rising star Jelena Ostapenko battled her way into the third round by outlasting Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
The 20-year-old reigning French Open champion is next to face Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Czech 26th seed Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-4.
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