WTA Indian Wells: Simona Halep makes good start. Stephens crashes out

Tennis - Elise Mertens, Daria Gavrilova, Garbine Muguruza and Bianca Andreescu are in the third round as well

by Jovica Ilic
WTA Indian Wells: Simona Halep makes good start. Stephens crashes out

The 2nd seed and 2015 Indian Wells champion Simona Halep is off to a solid start in the desert, defeating Barbora Strycova 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 26 minutes for the fifth straight win over the Czech without losing a set.

The Romanian lost 44% of the points in her games to suffer three breaks from five chances she offered to Barbora, erasing that deficit with a commanding display on the return that carried her towards six breaks of serve and the place in the third round.

Simona scored three breaks in the opener and we saw four straight breaks in the middle of the second set before the better-ranked player earned another one in game ten to cross the finish line and avoid the drama. It is so far so good for Johanna Konta at Indian Wells after a one-sided 6-0, 6-2 triumph over the 27th seed Su-Wei Hsieh in 70 minutes for the fourth win over the rival from the Chinese Taipei.

The opening set delivered one of the strangest bagels of the season so far, with Konta fending off nine break chances and taking 12 of the 15 return points for a 6-0, securing the second set with a double break to enter the last 32 in style.

The struggling Sloane Stephens has stayed on just five wins in 2019, hitting the exit door after a tough 6-3, 6-0 defeat to a qualifier Stefanie Voegele in 68 minutes. The Swiss lost only 16 points on serve, saving all five break points and stealing 55% of the return points to break Sloane five times from nine opportunities she created.

Stefanie moved ahead with a break in game three and that gave her the momentum to stay ahead of the error-prone opponent all the time, rattling off the last eight games of the match to leave Stephens in ruins and book the place in round three much more comfortable than she could even think about.

The young Canadian Bianca Andreescu took down Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2, facing only one break point in the entire match and taking the rival's serve twice in each set for another great result in what should be a stellar season for her.

Daria Gavrilova needed just 69 minutes to dismiss the 29th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, dominating with her first serve and earning five breaks to control the scoreboard all the time. The 20th seed Garbine Muguruza scored a rock-solid 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Lauren Davis, never losing serve and seizing four break points out of 14 she created to mover over the top and stay on the title chase.

The 16th seed Elise Mertens proved to be too strong for the 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, repelling eight out of nine break points and breaking a teenager four times for a 6-4, 6-2 victory in an hour and 19 minutes.

Simona Halep Daria Gavrilova Garbine Muguruza