Venus Williams held off Andrea Petkovic to move into the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Thursday.
In a battle of former top 10 players, seven-time major champion Williams held off former No.9 Petkovic 6-4 0-6 6-3 to set up a second-round blockbuster with third seed Petra Kvitova.
Kvitova and Williams have met six times – Kvitova leads the head-to-head 4-2 – and all six of those meetings have extended to three sets, with three matches ending in final-set tiebreaks.
Venus won their last meeting in the quarterfinals of the 2017 US Open.
— WTA (@WTA) March 7, 2019
Venus battled illness – requiring a visit from the trainer – and a second-set shut out to prevail in one hour, 45 minutes.
“I don’t know honestly. I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said when asked to explain what she was going through. “Every day is not your best day out here, but it doesn’t mean that the heart and desire isn’t there.
“It was a tough match and I played a great opponent, and it was great to be back home in Southern California and get a win.”
Williams, who outhit Petkovic and finished the match with 28 winners to 20, was a semifinalist at Indian Wells last year and a quarterfinalist in 2017.
In other results, former world No.10 Kristina Mladenovic set up a re-match with top seed Naomi Osaka after beating Zheng Saisai in straight sets.
Mladenovic beat Osaka 6-3 6-3 at the recent WTA tournament in Dubai in what was Osaka’s first match as world No.1.
“It’s pretty funny, playing her back-to-back. It’s not the easiest draw for me, but I believe it’s the same for her; it won’t be easy playing me back-to-back either,” Mladenovic told wtatennis.com.
“I’m sure her game suits well here as the defending champion, and I’m sure she wants to build on some wins again. I’m going to go out there confident, show a fight, and execute as well as I did a few weeks ago.”
It was a mixed day for Australia; Ajla Tomljanovic saw off Alize Cornet 7-5 6-3 to join Daria Gavrilova and Ash Barty in the second round, while US Open champion Sam Stosur and qualifier Priscilla Hon fell in straight sets.
In the men’s draw, Felix Auger-Aliassime continued his impressive form of late, beating Cameron Norrie for the loss of just five games to advance to the second round.
The Canadian teenager’s 6-3 6-2 win means he has now won seven of his past nine matches; he has improved his ranking from No.104 to No.58 in the past three weeks.
Auger-Aliassime, a wildcard, will next meet No.9 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in an intriguing battle of the young guns.
Other men’s winners on Thursday included Sam Querrey, Yoshihito Nishioka, Jordan Thompson and Ivo Karlovic.
Home crowd advantage ????????
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 8, 2019
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