Bethanie Mattek-Sands battled through a bout of stomach flu to beat Vera Dushevina 6-4, 6-4 in her opening match at the WTA and ATP Master Series event on Wednesday.
Mattek-Sands, the highest-ranked American in the women’s draw, said she just wanted to hit her shots and get off the court as quickly as possible on the opening day of the US$9 million men’s and women’s hardcourt tournament.
Mattek-Sands, who turns 26 later this month, achieved her goal of winning in straight sets, but the Russian made her work for it.
“I was just going to grind it out,” Mattek-Sands said. “There were a couple of long points there at the end where I lost and I was like ‘I can’t believe I ran all that way.’ I was just trying to keep the points short.”
Mattek-Sands said she has been sick since competing in Dubai last month. She felt bad enough to call for the trainer to come to the court in her match against Dushevina.
Mattek-Sands advances to the second round where she will face Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova who needed two tiebreakers to beat -Polona Hercog 7-5, 7-6 (8/6).
Coco Vandeweghe began her run at Indian Wells by rallying to beat Edina Gallovits-Hall 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the stadium court.
Vandeweghe says she has shed more than 5kg by changing her diet and training methods and the results are showing on the court.
“I was being told I was out of shape,” Vandeweghe said. “I am getting into my tennis and taking my training more seriously off the court.”
Vandeweghe said even though she was lighter on the court it didn’t translate into immediate victories because losing those kilograms so quickly had thrown her timing and balance off.
“There was an adjustment period,” Vandeweghe said. “I lost a match in a Michigan tournament that I shouldn’t have. I compare it to when I grew and everything was a little different.”
Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe are trying to become the first American players to win the Indian Wells event since Serena Williams won the title in 2001, the last time the Williams sisters competed here. -Neither Venus nor Serena Williams has played the tournament ever since the crowd booed Serena in the final 10 years ago.
The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena couldn’t have played this year if she wanted to as she is recovering after emergency surgery for a blood clot in her lung.
Defending champion Jelena Jankovic and world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark headline the women’s field.
The women’s draw includes two-time winners Daniela Hantuchova (2002, 2007) and Kim Clijsters (2003, 2005) and three other former winners, Maria Sharapova (2006), Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Vera Zvonareva (2009).
Reigning Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone, Australian Open finalist Li Na of China and 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, the oldest player in the event, are also competing.
Although the seeded players here enjoy first-round byes, there are a number of intriguing matchups when the men were to get underway yesterday with first-round action.
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro was expected to be tested in his opening match against former top 10 Czech Radek Stepanek. The winner will play Indian Wells defending champ Ivan Ljubicic.
Rising star Milos Raonic will have his hands full with 13th seed Mardy Fish of the US. Canada’s Raonic, a wildcard, has made the biggest leap of any player on the tour rocketing from 156th in the world at the start of the season to 37th.
The 20-year-old Raonic recently won his first ATP Tour title in San Jose.
Three-time former champion Roger Federer will face the winner of a first-round match between Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Igor Andreev of Russia.
The men’s draw features world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, hard serving Ivo Karlovic of Croatia and reigning Aussie Open champ Novak Djokovic.
In other first round women’s matches Wednesday, Czech Lucia Safarova beat Kristina Barrois of Germany 7-6 (11/9), 6-7 (7/5), 6-0, Alize Cornett of France surprised Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-4 and Date-Krumm defeated Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 7-5.
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