Indian Wells has proven testament to the competitive strength of the WTA after all big names survived first round matches at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.
With world number one Serena Williams boycotting the tournament, the competition is fierce to win this prestigious event which offers major prize money and important ranking points.
The top three seeds Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska all progressed without dropping a set while Angelique Kerber (4), Petra Kvitova (5) and Sara Errani (6) all went through with relative ease.
The biggest name to drop at round two is 15th-seed Sloane Stephens, who lost 6-3 6-4 to Radwanska’s younger sister Urszula. Stephens will be relatively disappointed with the result but it doesn’t come as a surprise. The American has dropped out early in both Doha and Dubai since making the Australian Open semis.
Heading into round three, nine of the 16 remaining ties pit seeds against each other. Azarenka should have no problem against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens while Sharapova will dispose of 25th-seed Carla Suarez Navarro with ease.
The most unpredictable match-up heading into round three is Nadia Petrova (10) against Julia Goerges (21). Russia’s Petrova breezed past Stefanie Vögele in the first round and made the quarters of Dubai last month, while Goerges is in good form after making the Melbourne last-eight.
With neither player showing any particular weakness from round two this tie may well prove a close battle.
Certainly Indian Wells will produce a deserved winner this year and the crème has already started to rise to the top. It is refreshing and pleasing to see that while we champion the underdog spirit those who boast top ranks in the WTA deserve to be where they are.