Day-2 of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open will be remembered for Mardy Fish’s return to the game, and a brilliant night match between two American Wild Cards. Mardy fell in a 3rd-set tie-break to Ryan Harrison on Stadium-1. The evening session’s first match thrilled ticket holders as Taylor Townsend and Bethanie Mattek-Sands went toe-to-toe, both playing high-quality tennis. The younger Townsend would win it in three, firing off 51 winners during the match. It was a good day for Americans in the desert with Lauren Davis, Madison Brengle and Christina McHale all advancing, as well.
Here on Stadium-2, Thursday saw it’s share of high-quality play with wins from fan-favorites Vasek Pospisil, Pico Monaco, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis…
- ATP 1R: V. Pospisil (CAN) d M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 64 42 Retired
- ATP 1R: J. Monaco (ARG) d T. Gabashvili (RUS) 62 36 63
- WTA 1R: C. Mchale (USA) d P. Cetkovska (CZE) 64 75
- WTA 1R:  M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d K. Pliskova (CZE) / M. Rybarikova (SVK) 62 61
- ATP 1R: [WC] T. Kokkinakis (AUS) d J. Struff (GER) 76(3) 63
From our post match interviews:
Vasek Pospisil‘s serve was locked-in on Thursday. His confidence boosted after delivering a deciding-rubber Davis Cup win for Canada over Japan on Sunday, he took advantage of Kukushkin’s jet-lag and simply outperformed Kazakhstan’s top player. You see, Mikhail also played Davis Cup over the weekend, and delivered two clutch wins to lift Kazakhstan into the 2015 Quarterfinals…but he was playing in Astana. On Monday morning, Mikhail was still 12 time-zones away, on the other side of the planet. Vasek was just up the coast in Vancouver. It mattered. Kukushkin would retire down 2-4 in the second. Still, Pospisil played solid tennis and admitted that he’s still not used to the title: “Wimbledon Champion Vasek Pospisil.” Tough test next, as Vasek will face Andy Murray.
Juan Monaco said he may not have played his best tennis on Thursday, but he’s happy to get the first one under his belt here at Indian Wells. He brings momentum into the tournament – with a Finals appearance in Buenos Aires two weeks back – but that was momentum gained on clay. His footwork looked sharp against Gabashvili, who’s still hunting his first tour-level win of 2015. The midday heat wasn’t an issue for Pico, either. He said after playing in South America for a month, the desert heat feels great. Juan will face Marin Cilic next and knows without question the reigning US Open champ will be a tough out. Pico did beat the Croatian in their last match…six years ago…on clay in Rome.
Stadium-2’s third match was a battle of two WTA comeback stories. Petra Cetkovska’s been out with a hip injury since the US Open. American Christina McHale hasn’t played competitively since January’s Australian Open. The pace was slow with plenty of unforced errors, but the match was competitive. McHale delivered the win in two, setting up a second-round clash with temperamental Alize Corent of France. They’ve played once before – in Sydney last year – McHale won that match.
The #1 doubles seeds here at Indian Wells were…simply remarkable. Truly. Though Magdalena Rybarikova delivered the match highlight with a behind the back winner early in the first set, the two legends proved too strong for Rybarikova and partner Karolina Pliskova. My first question after the match: “Ladies, there are Dream Teams in sport – and then there’s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. Why has this taken so long?” Sania blamed Martina’s retirement. Not trying to sound obnoxious, I then asked Martina: “Okay, it’s been 16-years since you’ve won this tournament. Isn’t this ‘stacking the deck?'” It was obnoxious…but good fun. She told me to stop reminding her of her age. It was actually quite remarkable that we had two Americans on Stadium-1 (Ryan Harrison and Mardy Fish), and at least 4500-fans were here in Stadium-2 for the Mirza-Hingis match. They’re a draw. Speaking of which, the doubles draw is stacked…we’ll see if the Dream Team can play through to the Final.
Thanasi Kokkinakis is a good dude. Just 18-years-old, he’s also a great, fearless interview. After his win over Jan-Lennard Struff, I just said: “Well, that’s better than the beating you took in that German Challenger last year.” (He fell to Struff 2 and 1). Thanasi laughed, remembering how the German had ‘kicked his ass,’ so it felt good to get the win in the desert. We mentioned the Gulbis win in Melbourne, but Thanasi admitted that his first live-rubber Davis Cup win last weekend – helping lift Australia to the QF for the first time since 2006 – ranks right up there as perhaps his proudest accomplishment of the new year…so far. Happy to be in the 2nd-round after falling in the first round of qualifying last year, the Kokk says he’s still struggling with jet-lag but hopes to be past it by Saturday when he’ll face Guillermo Garcia Lopez for the first time.
FULL RESULTS: Indian Wells 2015. Thursday. Day-2.
ATP Singles First Round
M. Baghdatis (CYP) d J. Vesely (CZE) 63 11 Retired
A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d V. Troicki (SRB) 64 64
[Q] J. Melzer (AUT) d [Q] D. Novikov (USA) 64 64
F. Delbonis (ARG) d D. Lajovic (SRB) 64 63
J. Monaco (ARG) d T. Gabashvili (RUS) 62 36 63
[WC] T. Kokkinakis (AUS) d J. Struff (GER) 76(3) 63
[Q] B. Coric (CRO) d A. Haider-Maurer (AUT) 64 64
I. Dodig (CRO) d J. Sousa (POR) 63 75
V. Pospisil (CAN) d M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 64 42 Retired
[WC] T. Smyczek (USA) d B. Becker (GER) 63 76(4)
A. Mannarino (FRA) d [Q] M. Zverev (GER) 64 64
[LL] D. Gimeno-Traver (ESP) d S. Groth (AUS) 76(5) 76(6)
[Q] E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d M. Matosevic (AUS) 57 64 63
J. Nieminen (FIN) d [Q] T. de Bakker (NED) 76(3) 64
[Q] J. Duckworth (AUS) d D. Thiem (AUT) 76(5) 61
[WC] R. Harrison (USA) d [PR] M. Fish (USA) 64 46 76(3)
WTA Singles First Round
[Q] L. Hradecka (CZE) d J. Cepelova (SVK) 63 61
[Q] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) d T. Pironkova (BUL) 75 61
C. Mchale (USA) d P. Cetkovska (CZE) 64 75
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d A. Beck (GER) 61 63
K. Koukalova (CZE) d D. Hantuchova (SVK) 64 16 63
L. Davis (USA) d A. Schmiedlova (SVK) 62 62
B. Jovanovski (SRB) d K. Bertens (NED) 63 64
[Q] O. Jabeur (TUN) d K. Kanepi (EST) 75 62
[Q] Y. Putintseva (KAZ) d T. Smitkova (CZE) 64 64
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d V. Zvonareva (RUS) 61 61
R. Vinci (ITA) d J. Gajdosova (AUS) 46 61 62
[Q] L. Zhu (CHN) d F. Schiavone (ITA) 06 63 63
M. Brengle (USA) d S. Zheng (CHN) 63 60
[WC] T. Townsend (USA) d [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 64 57 75
K. Flipkens (BEL) d S. Rogers (USA) 62 64
Y. Wickmayer (BEL) d K. Knapp (ITA) 61 75
WTA Doubles First Round
 M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d K. Pliskova (CZE) / M. Rybarikova (SVK) 62 61
 E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) d C. Chuang (TPE) / S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 46 60 10-8
K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Klepac (SLO) d  S. Hsieh (TPE) / F. Pennetta (ITA) 61 36 10-8
 G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d M. Erakovic (NZL) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) 61 64
M. Niculescu (ROU) / A. Panova (RUS) d  T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) 36 76(4) 11-9
 C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d [WC] A. Ivanovic (SRB) / A. Kerber (GER) 64 64
A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 75 75
[WC] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) / C. Vandeweghe (USA) d A. Rodionova (AUS) / A. Rodionova (AUS) 46 62 12-10