INDIAN WELLS, California - 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu withstood a strong charge from American Alison Riske to win 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2 and advance to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, marking a triumphant return to the tournament that sparked her career ascension over two years ago.
In their first career meeting, Andreescu and Riske battled through a tough opening set that saw each woman break just once. But Andreescu's consistent return pressure kept the former World No.4 on the front foot, and she raced away with the opening tiebreak, 7-2.
Turning point: With the opening set in hand, Andreescu looked in full control to finish the match in straight sets. She built a 4-1 lead in the second set behind efficient serving and continued return pressure. Andreescu served well over the course of the match, winning 73.5% of her first serve points and 60.0% of her second serve points.
But serving at 4-2, Andreescu let loose a rash of unforced errors to allow Riske to break at 15 and get the set back on serve. Serving at 15-30, the Canadian buried a backhand into the net off a good Riske return and then double-faulted to hand over the game.
Having regained her foothold in the set, Riske leveled at 4-4 after a lengthy service game, saving two break points along the way. After holding quickly at love, Andreescu again pressured the Riske serve, earning two match points at 15-40 on Riske's serve.
The veteran American came up with a perfect response, finding her first serve on the next four points to get out of the game. Riske constructed a perfect 1-2 punch to save the first match point, fired a clean backhand winner inside the sideline to save the second, and closed out the hold with a forehand winner to level the set at 5-5.
Fired up and full of confidence, Riske took control of the next two games from the baseline, breaking a retreating Andreescu with a clean backhand winner and then serving out the set at 30.
But Riske's momentum was short-lived. Andreescu settled herself during the set-break and proceeded to race to a 3-0 lead in the decider. With the break in hand, Andreescu methodically closed out the victory after 2 hours and 48 minutes. The win brings Andreescu's career record at Indian Wells to 8-0.
Andreescu said: "I felt like I could have raised my level a little bit more throughout the match because that's what she did, that's how she came back in those important moments. But I think the key for me today was to keep my composure as much as I can and not to feel the pressure of the crowd or being defending champion. I think I dealt with that better in the third set."
Stat of the Match: Andreescu generated 17 break points over the course of the match, compared to Riske's 5. But the American proved efficient on her chances, converting 4 of 5 break points, while Andreescu converted 5 of her 17 chances.
Next up: Andreescu will face No.18 seed Anett Kontaveit for a spot in the Round of 16. Kontaveit advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 5-2 win by retirement over Italy's Martina Trevisan. Andreescu and Kontaveit have played twice, with the Estonian prevailing in both matches. Their only completed match came this summer on the grass in Eastbourne. Kontaveit won 6-3, 6-3 in the Round of 16.
Viktorija Golubic tallies 1st Top 10 win in five years with Sakkari stunner
No.46 Viktorija Golubic's stellar 2021 season continued at Indian Wells, where the Swiss put on an all-court clinic to upset World No.9 Maria Sakkari, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round.
The 28-year-old began the year ranked No.138 and has shot up the rankings thanks to a 2021 campaign that saw her make two tour finals in Lyon and Monterrey and achieve a major breakthrough at Wimbledon, where she advanced to her first quarterfinal at a Slam.
"I always loved to really play the game, to have so many options," Golubic told WTA Insider after the match. "This is something I always enjoyed. But I think at this level you have to be physically very, very strong and also you have to have power. It's not enough to just mix up the game. I think this is something that as a junior I didn't have yet. I had a good game, I had a good eye for the court and for the game but there were people overpowering me, so power wins.
"In the last years, I could develop more power, more strength, being faster as well. This is something you need to compete and this is where the variation comes in. But if you don't have that part, it's not enough."
Golubic showed off both her variety, uncanny court sense, and power against Sakkari. Golubic unwound the No.6 seed with physical defense and intelligent offense, firing 25 winners while extracting 46 unforced errors from the Greek over the course of the match. After being broken three times in the opening set, Golubic would win all but one of her service games for the rest of the match.
"I think with the conditions here it's pretty slow so you can get easy points with the serve if you hit the spots, but I feel like it's a little tougher," Sakkari said. "So I think I made her play after her serves a lot, I had solid returns, but also in the rallies when she was attacking I made her play another shot and another shot. I think that maybe raised the pressure and made her miss some more shots."
Having forced a decider, Golubic raced to a 4-0 lead and secured the win after 2 hours and 33 minutes. She finished with 25 winners to 26 unforced errors, while Sakkari hit 39 winners to 46 unforced errors. The victory sets up a third-round meeting with Russia's Anna Kalinskaya, who upset 28th seed Sara Sorribes Tormo earlier in the day.
Angelique Kerber holds off Siniakova upset bid
No.10 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany had to battle to the bitter end before edging Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-5, and advancing into the third round after two-and-a-half hours of gripping play.
Playing her first match at Indian Wells since her stellar run to the final in the most recent edition in 2019, former World No.1 Kerber squeaked past 52nd-ranked Siniakova in a match that featured 15 breaks of service combined.
Kerber charged through the first set, dictating with her forehand while she was assisted by eight Siniakova double faults. The German then led by a break three separate times in the early stages of the second set, but Siniakova cranked up the power and precision of her shots, pulling back on serve each time.
In fact, Siniakova got to triple set point at 5-4, before Kerber pulled herself out of danger in that game. But the Czech still powered herself into a tiebreak, where she jumped ahead 6-2 and held on from there to level the match.
The pair exchanged breaks twice early in the final set, and rallies and games were pushed to their limits as they moved to 5-5. Kerber held serve in another protracted game to lead 6-5, and the German finally reached triple match point in the next game with a forehand passing winner down the line. Siniakova saved one, but not the second, and Kerber emerged with a gutsy win.
Kerber will next face No.20 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia for a spot in the Round of 16. Kasatkina advanced past Australian qualifier Astra Sharma, after Sharma retired due to injury while leading 4-3.