The first week of the women’s draw at the BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells has been marked by major upsets. First, #6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was taken out in three sets by Polish teen Urzula Radwanska, sister of Agnieszka Radwanska. Urszula moves into the top-100 for the first time in her career with this win, her second this year against a top-10 player after she defeated her sister in Dubai. Kuznetsova has been struggling mightily ever since squandering her 7-5 5-3 lead over Serena Williams at the Australian Open. Since that Kuznetsova is 0-2 with losses to Razzano and now to Radwanska. If she keeps up this form, Kuznetsova may fall out of the top-10 by the clay court season.
The carnage did not end with Kuznetsova, as Elena Dementieva was the next to fall in her first match. Dementieva trailed early against Petra Cetkovska but seemed to regain her form as she got the first set to a tiebreak. She went on to lose that tiebreak, but come back and win the second set 6-2 and looked to be on her way to a comeback win. Cetkovska had other ideas, as she easily won the third set 6-1. Dementieva held a particularly sour press conference after the match in which she discussed how unexcited she was to play in Indian Wells. Being a mandatory event and one of the biggest and most lucrative tournaments of the year, one has to wonder: what does it take to get her excited?
On to the night session, where yet another top player fell, Jelena Jankovic. Unlike her fellow top-10 residents, Jankovic lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in two sets, 6-4 6-4. Pavlyuchenkova has been touted as a future champion for many years, ever since she won the Australian Open Juniors at the age of 14. In the last 12 months, she has certainly began to collect on that potential, and this victory is just another step along the way. The situation seems more dire for Jankovic who has looked lost all season long. A lackluster performance at the Australian Open, followed by very shaky performances in Paris, Dubai, and now in Indian Wells hardly inspires confidence in the rest of her year. Going into this week Jankovic sits at #15 in the race rankings, and with this form one wonders if she even deserves to sit any higher.
In 2002, amongst a flurry of upsets, Daniela Hantuchova famously came out of nowhere to win this event. That victory spurred her on to a fantastic run which culminated in a career high ranking of #5. With all of these big stars falling, the framework looks to be set for another surprise run.