Sloane Stephens went down in her opening round match at Indian Wells Masters on Friday, surrendering to Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele.
Voegele beat the No.4 seed 6-3 6-0 in just 68 minutes, winning eight straight games to close out victory.
There were better results on Friday for fellow Grand Slam champions Stan Wawrinka, Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko who all notched opening-round victories.
Joining them on the winner’s list was former world No.4 Johanna Konta, 12th seed Ash Barty and qualifiers Radu Albot, Alexei Popyrin, Alex Bolt and Filip Krajinovic.
Incredible, the world No.109 Voegele owns a 5-1 winning record against the 2017 US Open champion Stephens, including four straight victories dating back to October 2013.
As Voegele moves onto a third-round meeting with either Dominika Cibulkova or Bianca Andreescu, Stephens was left to ruminate on what went wrong.
Let's differentiate between tanking and not being able to find the court. Sloane's "range of outcome" is vast. She can win Majors; she can lose 6-3 6-0 to qualifiers as she did today. But I don't see it as disrespectful. Just maddening…. https://t.co/Jr7ka3Q6PM
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) March 8, 2019
“I think this week is just a busy week, a lot of stuff happening. Obviously being in the US again, there is a lot more required and asked of you. So I think it’s a little bit tough,” she told WTA Insider.
“This week especially was a little bit tougher for me than normal. Practice wasn’t too bad, but I think just sometimes you get a little bit overwhelmed.
“I’m obviously going through a transition (between coaches) right now, so things are different than they normally have been. So I’m just trying to work through that.”
Muguruza and Ostapenko were at their dominant best, routing Lauren Davis and Zhang Shuai respectively to reach the third round.
Muguruza’s 6-1 6-3 victory over Davis means she will meet either Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka in arguably the pick of the matches in the last 32.
Ostapenko, who has struggled for form in 2019 since a wrist injury impacted her off-season, will line up against Marketa Vondrousova, who swatted aside floundering 14th seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-1.
Konta was similarly dominant in a 6-0 6-2 demolition of 27th seed Hsieh Su-Wei; she could next face Kiki Bertens, should the seventh seed get past Magda Linette.
Meanwhile, Wawrinka required three sets to subdue in-form Brit Dan Evans, while former world No.4 Tomas Berdych was shown the door by Feliciano Lopez.
Some fab points even in gale-force winds. Wawrinka plays the big points brilliantly to edge Evans out 6-7 6-3 6-3. Earlier, Konta sploshed Su-Wei Hsieh 6-0, 6-2.
— Simon Briggs (@simonrbriggs) March 8, 2019
Wawrinka beat Evans 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 in a high-quality affair, a win sending the Swiss through to a second-round meeting with No.29 seed Marton Fucsovics.
Fucsovics has won 10 of his 16 matches to open the 2019 season.
Berdych was enjoying a similarly strong start to the year, winning 12 of his 17 matches entering Indian Wells. Yet Spanish veteran Lopez got on top of him in two tiebreaks, and progresses to a second-round showdown with 12th seed Karen Khachanov.
It was a good day for Australia, with the nation’s players going four-from-four on Friday.
Bolt and Popyrin scored their first Masters-level main-draw victories while Barty and Daria Gavrilova both enjoyed straight sets victories to reach the last 32.
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