March 20, 2023

Open Court


Quick transitions and tough adjustments in Indian Wells for last week’s performers

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The good thing having a great week leading up to a big tournament is the confidence you bring into it.

The dark side is that you’re tired, you might have a lot of travel to deal with. And you might be jet-lagged. And you might have completely changed surfaces and tennis balls.

Not to mention, the conditions at the BNP Paribas Open are unlike anywhere else on the WTA and ATP Tour, basically.

So let’s have a look at some of last week’s achievers, and how they’re doing.

Marta Kostyuk, Austin champion

It was a heady, heady week for Marta Kostyuk, who is only 20 but already a veteran of the WTA Tour.

She won her first career Tour title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.

Less than 24 hours later, after travelling from Texas to the California desert, she was already trying to make a quick adjustment to the conditions as the sun set Monday.

Here’s what it looked like as Kostyuk practiced with Russian-Kazakh Elena Rybakina.

OUTCOME: It seemed there just wasn’t though time.

Kostyuk went out on Wednesday against qualifier Rebecca Peterson, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in the first round.

Daniil Medvedev: Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai champion

For Daniil Medvedev, a swing through Rotterdam (indoors and fast), Doha (sloooow) and Dubai was extremely succcessful.

Three titles, 14 straight matches, only three sets lost.

But from Dubai to Indian Wells is a really, really long way, with a 12-hour time difference.

So luckily he doesn’t have to play until Friday, when he will face Brandon Nakashima (who defeated John Isner in the first round on Wednesday).

But Medvedev said that all that winning has him coming in on a high.

Varvara Gracheva, Austin Finalist

Gracheva was the player Kostyuk defeated in the Austin final.

But she had even less time to turn it around, because she had to play the qualifying on Monday.

Here she was getting ready for her first round against young Croatian wild card Petra Marcinko.

Gracheva, whose ranking rose to No. 66 with the effort in Austin (too late to get out of having to qualify, though), won it 7-6 (4), 6-4.

The Russian was even more impressive on the second day, when all of the effects often kick in. And yet, she defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-7 (6), 6-4 to make the main draw.

After a day off on Wednesday, Gracheva faces off with fellow qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure on Thursday – first up at 11 a.m.

Donna Vekic, Monterrey Champion

The 26-year-old from Croatia had a tremendous week at the WTA 250 in Monterrey, Mexico last week, winning the fourth title of her career and pushing her record on the season to 14-2 with tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver on board as a consultant.

Their week in Monterrey was the first time Shriver took the reins as “head coach”, as Vekic’s longtime coach Nick Horvat couldn’t make the trip.

She boosted her ranking to No. 23 – just four off a career high reached in Nov. 19. And after years of injuries and struggles it appears you can’t keep a good woman down.

But it’s a quick transition for Vekic as well. Monterrey is at about 1,765 feet of altitude. And it’s very different from the desert, which is basically at sea level.

Also – they were using those (very much disliked) Dunlop Australian Open balls in Monterrey. In Indian Wells, it’s a Penn regular-duty ball.

Vekic squeezed in as the No. 29 seed. So she has a first-round bye and, with the players in her half of the draw (the bottom half) playing Wednesday, you would assume their second round would be Friday.

She will play the experienced Lesia Tsurenko, who upset Zhu Lin Wednesday and who now already has three matches under these conditions under her belt. That’s a danger match.

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