Watson, Cibulkova advance to second round at Indian Wells

The three-set win earned Heather Watson a second-round showdown with 32nd seed Monica Niculescu.


British wildcard Heather Watson in action.

Heather Watson and Dominika Cibulkova emerged unscathed from their first-round matches at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. Wildcard Watson was forced to dig deep against Galina Voskoboeva, outlasting the Kazakh 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-1. The three-set win earned her a second-round showdown with 32nd seed Monica Niculescu.

Dominika Cibulkova had a much easier task first-up at Indian Wells following her 6-2, 6-0 win over Katerina Siniakova.

However, Alison van Uytvanck, Kristyna Pliskova and Timea Babos were not as fortunate, ousted by Kateryna Bondarenko, Yaroslava Shvedova and Lesia Tsurenko respectively.

Watson continued her winning run but the British No. 2 would have been hoping for a less gruelling opener at Indian Wells. After reigning supreme in Monterrey last week, Watson was forced into a two hour, 30-minute battle on Stadium Court.

Already a two-time semi-finalist this year, 2014 Australian Open runner-up Cibulkova was largely untroubled against the Czech youngster, breaking in the opening game and never looking back as she set-up a second-round clash with third seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

Watson converted four of nine break points against Voskoboeva, while fending off five of her own. Putintseva was in a ruthless mood, winning all six break points she was presented with in a devastating 55-minute rout of Peng. Pliskova fired down 16 aces and won 80 per cent of her first serves but still lost to Shvedova.

The tournament has been overshadowed by Maria Sharapova's failed drugs test at this year's Australian Open and questions regarding the five-time Grand Slam champion dominated media day for the seeds at Indian Wells, with Garbine Muguruza telling reporters: "The good thing is she has acknowledged what happened, and she's facing it. I guess that's a good thing she is doing, and we'll see how it goes."

Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was asked about Sharapova, who had been taking meldonium for a decade due to health reasons but did not realise it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) prohibited substance list at the start of the year, and she said: "It's a combination of (me and the team). At the end, I'm checking everything twice, or three times, to see if it's really on the list because every player has a responsibility to yourself."

Having set up a first-ever meeting with defending champion Simona Halep, King said: "I'm really excited because every match I play at this level will help me get to where I want to be."

The results:

Dominika Cibulkova bt Katerina Siniakova 6-2 , 6-0; Heather Watson bt Galina Voskoboeva 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-1; Laura Siegemund bt Irina-Camelia Begu 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Yulia Putintseva bt Shuai Peng 6-0, 6-1; Kateryna Bondarenko bt Alison Van Uytvanck 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2; Lesia Tsurenko bt Timea Babos 7-5, 6-4; Kurumi Nara bt Teliana Pereira 6-1, 6-2; Barbora Strycova bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-3; Lucie Hradecka bt Alison Riske 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; Vania King bt Taylor Townsend 6-2, 6-3; Carina Witthoeft bt Irina Falconi 0-6, 6-4, 6-4;Yaroslava Shvedova bt Kristyna Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5; Johanna Larsson bt Tatjana Maria 6-4, 7-6 (7-3); Coco Vandeweghe bt Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-4; Nicole Gibbs bt Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1, 6-0; Danka Kovinic bt Samantha Crawford 6-3, 6-4.