INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – On the tennis side, there wasn’t much to write home about.
But at least pals Bianca Andreescu and Yulia Putintseva had a lot of laughs as they teamed up in doubles for the first time.
This unlikely duo didn’t have much to counter the experienced doubles pair of Ellen Perez and Nicole Melichar Martinez, even if the 7-5, 6-4 score looked pretty respectable.
But they did have a LOT of laughs. That’s not something you’ll see much from either of them on the singles court. Especially Putintseva.
Here’s what it looked like.
Did we say there were laughs?
This was Andreescu’s hommage to the late, unlamented on-court coaching.
There were the looks of abject disgust upon failure to make a return.
And there were Bibi line calls – both ways.
For the Kazakh, the tournament is already over. Just a few spots out of the seeded 32, she ran into a fairly tough first round in the talented Karolina Muchova, who is in on a protected ranking of No. 22 and is far better than her current ranking. Muchova won that.
For Andreescu, it’s just beginning.
After more than 10 days in the area, Andreescu was notably a virtual ghost on the actual site. She has had almost no practice courts booked here since Open Court’s arrival and on one occasion a few days ago, wasn’t on the court she had reserved. That means she may not have had a lot of practice sets against other players, unless she invited them off-site.
But on Saturday, Andreescu will finally get on court in singles.
The 22-year-old hasn’t played since Elena Rybakina defeated her in the first round of Dubai, nearly three weeks ago.
And she hasn’t won a match since defeating Marta Kostyuk in the quarterfinals of the WTA 250 in Hua Hin, Thailand nearly five weeks ago.
The only time Andreescu has played Indian Wells since she won it in 2019 was the October version in 2021, where she lost her second match to Anett Kontaveit and didn’t reappear until April of the next year in Stuttgart.
(It really wasn’t that kind of match, though; through the last 20 minutes or so we can’t even recall Andreescu hitting a single volley. Not anyone else on the court, very much).
There have been a lot of memories, both good and not-so-good, going through her mind when she’s been on site.
This was the first doubles Andreescu has played since last summer in Berlin. And only the third time she’s played doubles since she lost in the first round of the 2019 US Open – and won the whole thing in singles.
Andreescu vs Stearns
At this level, there aren’t many easy openers. But Andreescu’s first-round opponent, Peyton Stearns, might be considered a “good outcome” because she’s 21-year-old a wild card.
(It’s crazy when you think she’s only a year younger than Andreescu, considering what the Canadian has already done).
But Stearns is good. She was a top-50 junior five years ago at 16. And by the end of her junior career she was only losing to names you’re already famliar with: Wang Xiyu, Kamilla Rakhimova, Robin Montgomery, Emma Navarro, Leylah Fernandez.
She went the college route at the University of Texas, and won the 2022 NCAA championships as a sophomore. She had planned from the beginning of that second season to turn pro, and finally did so officially nine months ago, when she was just outside the top 500 in the WTA rankings.
Right now, she’s at a career-high No. 126 (No. 115 in the live rankings after her three-set win over Rebeka Masarova.
ATP Rankings Report – As of March 20, 2023
Miami – Tuesday, March 21, 2023 women’s OOP
WTA Rankings Report – As of March 20, 2023