INDIAN WELLS – It certainly seemed like a winnable match for Françoise Abanda.
When she was up 4-1 and 5-3 in the first set and 2-0 in the second set, especially.
But the 20-year-old from Montreal fell 7-6 (2), 6-3 to Evgeniya Rodina, despite running the Russian ragged on a lot of rallies and taking leads in both those sets.
Once Abanda broke to go up 3-2 in the second set (her second break advantage of the set), she never won another game.
Abanda squeezed into the BNP Paribas Open qualifying rather late in the game; she went to Indian Wells without a coach.
Abanda has not traveled alone much in her short career; she did hit Charleston under similar circumstances two years ago, and that one didn’t turn out particularly well, either (she lost 6-1, 7-5 to Laura Siegemund of Germany, then ranked just No. 144).
The first thing that stood out was that the serve just wasn’t at a premium pro level; she couldn’t break 100 mph with her first delivery, and she hit second serves as low as … 59 mph (95 km/hour). She’s probably lucky those even registered on the radar gun.
When she was behind, at times, and got mad, she hit the ball a lot more aggressively and Rodina could not stay in the rallies. There were times she ran her Russian opponent around so much, she would be winded for the next two points.
But when Abanda got ahead, she started stroking the ball, pushing, and it wasn’t nearly enough.
There’s not much Abanda can play now that she’s already out of Indian Wells. The month of March is taken up with the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments, and it’s a few weeks until there’s a lower-level event in the U.S.
A better strategic bet for her would have been to head to Kuala Lumpur, an International-level event with a fairly bereft field, and play the two $60,000 ITF tournaments that followed it in China. At least she would have gotten some tennis in; Abanda has played just six matches so far this season.
Here’s some video (the first point in the package is probably the best point she played in the match).