Indian Wells has seen the comebacks for both of the undisputed top female players currently in the game. Serena and Vika are back in action. There is no reason to think that they won’t be the top two again before too long. Serena is the GOAT as we know but Vika was a clear second to her (in the rankings) a few years ago and has the ability to make a right game of it against the American.
Both have fallen before the last 16 in California but under the circumstances that is understandable. Serena was playing her first competitive event since her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last year, where she was 8 weeks pregnant. Having given birth, Vika has found herself involved in a bitter split with her ex and has had a stop-start comeback as a result. The custody case against Billy McKeague over her son Leo had halted proceedings even further. It is her first event since Wimbledon last year having had a year out before in 2016 due to the pregnancy. It must have been particularly stressful for both players alike at times.
Having had some severe complications after the birth of daughter Alexis, Serena won through two rounds against Zarina Diyas and Kiki Bertens, she went out to Venus 6/3 6/4 on her return. It is great just to have Serena back on court though but you need to remember she is dealing with a lot of new factors right now in her life, as I am sure Azarenka is. As I have said before, as long as the passion and desire are there, you are still going to be having her as your favourite bar none when the chips are down. The strength and depth of the women’s game have certainly risen since Kim Clijsters made her comeback from her first child in 2009. However, my statement remains unchanged. #RenasArmy.
Vika will look to bulk up over the next few months and the uncertainty in her life of late has suggested it has been tough to focus on her game. “Obviously a lot of work to do. For me, the most important is to have a clear head, which obviously right now is not. Once I figure all my stuff outside of the court, I’ll be able to focus and be 100 percent when I’m on the court to be there”. That would seem a fair and honest assessment by her. Having hopefully won the court case over her ex, she can now start to look forward again. Vika beat Heather Watson in the first round but then fell to Sloane Stephens in straights in the second.
Both have to wipe the cobwebs off as their movement and consistency aren’t quite there yet. Matches and game time are the only way to find these attributes. For both players, particularly Serena it is all about the slams. The events over the next few months should give them a bit of time to find their rhythm in preparation for Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Tennis though has been worse off for not having either around and that’s the best perk of having them both back in action.
Andy Del Potro