Karen Helf, our reported from Indian Wells, attended a number of third-round matches and corresponding press conferences, so she’s bringing us detailed updates from Monday’s WTA action at the BNP Paribas Open. The blockbuster of the day was the 29th meeting of Serena and Venus Williams and Karen is giving us all the details about it, but she’s starting her highlights with the first WTA match on Monday’s schedule, Caroline Wozniacki’s win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Later on, we’ll publish Jimmie48’s photo gallery. Enjoy!
Caroline Wozniacki  d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 2-6 6-3
Wozniacki and Sasnovich opened the day session on Stadium 1. Wozniacki, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion, spoke of not finding her rhythm today and she held service only twice in the first set. Second serves and double-faults punctuated the first set for both players.
Unwilling to yield to the world No.2, Sasnovich raised her level in the second set, but her holds were not easy, 12, 14 and 16-point battles. She won 80% of first serve points and saved all break points faced. Wozniacki’s second serve lost steam and Sasnovich seized the opportunity to attack. Those dynamics rewarded Sasnovich with the second set, where she won 56% of points played.
Lifted by her second set-win, Sasnovich pressed again on Wozniacki’s second serves, coming up with the first break in the third. However, double-faults crept in, assisting the Dane with the next break. Classic Wozniacki arrived, returning serve on point. Yet, the set remained uncertain. With Sasnovich on serve down 4-3, Wozniacki executed well, coming up with the timely break. The unseeded Belarusian would not quit. She forced Wozniacki to an eight-point service hold for the match.
Monday held the opportunity for Sasnovich to capture a second Top-10 win and she impressed. After 2 hours, only four points separated the two, 96 for Wozniacki verses 92 for Sasnovich. Tennis, the game of small margins.
Wozniacki reflected on the match, saying:
I just think — you know, it just wasn’t my day. I was just really trying hard, and I was making a lot of unforced errors, as well. Didn’t really feel the ball off the racquet. You know, I think I managed to get my feet going more, and I managed to start playing more steady, and that paid off today.
When asked about the possibility of No.1 ranking, Wozniacki responded:
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to me at this point. It will matter to me if I have the chance to finish the year as No.1. But at this point I think, you know, winning the Australian Open and getting the No.1 ranking back at that point, that was extremely important to me and something that I’m very proud of. Right now, that No.1 ranking isn’t what’s on the forefront of my mind. I’m really just trying to win every match I’m playing and trying to win this tournament.
Daria Kasatkina  d. Sloane Stephens  6-4 6-3
Going into her third-round match, Stephens had not dropped but Kasatkina shut that down today. The Russian’s reward is a meeting with second-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and here’s what she had to say about it:
I was just watching — there were two matches, Gavrilova and Wozniacki on the two screens, and I was watching both matches. I didn’t really know that I was going to play Wozniacki. But it was good I did, to watch this match a little bit (smiling). Yeah.
Upcoming fourth round: Daria Kasatkina vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Venus Williams  d. Serena Williams 6-3 6-4
For this 29th all-Williams meeting, a reverent crowd filled Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open. The chair called ad-points by first names, Serena and Venus, which seemed fitting for this iconic pairing. While Serena held a significant lead in this head-to-head, she frequently reminds us that Venus is always her toughest opponent. Serena has great memories of the legacy they have written together:
I abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I’m out there. It’s just afterwards I don’t like it as much.
Those words certainly echoed tonight. In typical fashion, this match contained rocket returns, well placed serves, smart tactics and guts by both sisters. What stuck with me most is that this relationship grounded in love continues to raise the bar when they meet, regardless of personal circumstances. Nothing was given. The rare jewel of Williams vs. Williams is intact at its core. Venus had the upper hand tonight with more matches under her belt and a physical state more battle-ready. Noting her journey, Serena raised the bar to fierce competitor, but with less than typical consistency.
Key match highlights were Venus capturing the first break in the first set and closing with successive aces. Venus pulled ahead with a 3-0 lead in the second set, however, Serena pressed and recovered ground to 3-2. Venus produced greater consistency and broke Serena, going up 5-2. It was not over. Serena pressed and Venus struggled to close. With two double-faults, the question of a third set loomed as Serena broke back to 5-3. Venus focused and closed the set in forty-nine minutes. In press, she stated she is already resetting for the next opponent. No matter whom she plays, she knows she must earn it just like tonight.
Upcoming fourth round: Venus Williams plays seed No.21 Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated twelfth seed Julia Goerges in the third round.
Danielle Collins d. Sofya Zhuk 6-4 6-4
Danielle Collins, a University of Virginia graduate, has followed the collegiate road to the WTA tour. Currently ranked 117, she is the owner of two NCAA singles championships. Despite that achievement, no one expected Collins to be one of the last Americans left in the singles draw at the BNP Paribas Open.
At Newport Beach, Collins recently captured a WTA 125K series event title. Her home base is the IMG Academy where she trains with Pat Harrison. Yes, Harrison is the father of ATP player Ryan Harrison.
Taking on WTA veteran Carla Suarez Navarro in the upcoming round of 16, Collins will have to raise her level. Remember, she dismissed powerful Madison Keys in the second round in straight sets.
Discussing her journey in the desert, the 24-year-old Collins shared the following perspective:
Yeah, it definitely feels like a big deal, because I have never gone this far in a tournament. So, this is pretty special. But at the same time, I have worked really hard for this, and I know in my heart that I really deserve it and all of my hard work is really paying off. I’m just really fortunate to have had the success here.
Carla Suarez Navarro  d. Elina Svitolina  7-5 6-3
Today was a significant test for Suarez Navarro. In Svitolina she faced an opponent with tremendous momentum and guts. The Spaniard stood the test, winning 71% of first serve points and playing solid defense.
Upcoming fourth round: Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Danielle Collins.
Caroline Garcia  d. Daria Gavrilova  7-5 6-4
Discussing her win over Gavrilova, Garcia had this to say:
I know against Daria it’s always going to be a fight until the end and she always wants to come back in the match, and it’s never over. I’m very happy the way I played at 4-all and 5-4 in the second set.
Angelique Kerber  d. Elena Vesnina  7-5 6-2
Talking about her 2018 performance, Kerber stated:
I’m just focusing on every single match and every single day. Actually, I got through a lot in the last two years, and now I just try to, again, focusing on my game, practicing hard, and this is what I’m trying to do here. From the first day when I arrive to just playing good during the practices and then also going out there and showing good tennis like I can play and like I played the last years. This is actually my goal now. I’m not thinking too much ahead, not thinking or looking back. I’m just trying to being here now.
Upcoming fourth round: Caroline Garcia vs. Angelique Kerber.