Venus' return to Indian Wells ends in defeat

Venus Williams and her return to Indian Wells was short-lived, swept aside by qualifier Kurumi Nara in straight sets at the BNP Paribas Open.

Back at the WTA Premier event after ending her 15-year boycott, 10th seed and seven-time grand-slam champion Venus came unstuck 6-4 6-3 in a match halted by rain in the first set on Friday.

Agnieszka Radwanska - the third seed - was a little fortunate, fighting back from 5-2 down in the final set and fending off a match point as she completed an unlikely 6-3 3-6 7-5 victory over Dominika Cibulkova.

Petra Kvitova and 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic also won through.


World number one Serena Williams eased to a 6-2 6-1 win against Laura Siegemund.

Playing for the first time since her Australian Open final loss to Angelique Kerber, Serena had 21 winners and went unbroken despite serving at just 55 per cent, closing out her victory in 63 minutes.

Defending champion Simona Halep made a dream start to her title defence with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Vania King.

The Romanian fifth seed, who had lost the only previous clash between the pair but that was in 2010, needed just 55 minutes to progress to the third round.

Halep finished with 18 winners in an excellent display as she set up a clash against Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova, a player she has beaten in two of their three meetings.


Following Venus out the door were Lucie Safarova, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Andrea Petkovic, Madison Keys, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kristina Mladenovic and Sabine Lisicki.

Safarova - playing just her second match this year - lost out to Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 6-4 and Errani was beaten 6-4 6-3 by Lesia Tsurenko, despite being crowned queen of Dubai last month.

Coco Vandeweghe stunned Kuznetsova 6-4 6-3, Petkovic was outlasted 5-7 6-4 7-5 by Barbora Strycova, Keys bowed out at the hands of fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-3 6-3, while Mladenovic went down to Yulia Putintseva 6-4 6-4.

Johanna Larsson rallied to upstage Lisicki 5-7 6-4 6-2, while Pavlyuchenkova was trumped by Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2 6-7 (1-7) 6-4.


Venus tallied 41 unforced errors in her surprise second-round defeat.

Putintseva saved seven of 11 break points in her win over Mladenovic, who tallied five double faults in the shock defeat.

Heather Watson was seven-from-seven on break points but still lost to Monica Niculescu 6-4 2-6 6-2.


Venus preferred to look on the bright side of life following her return to Indian Wells, saying: "It was enough of a fairy tale to come here and play. A win would have been nice, but that means I have to come back and play next year."

Radwanska was relieved to see off Cibulkova in a miraculous comeback: "She doesn't have the ranking she should - she's definitely a top-20 player - and I'm so happy I could come back in that third set and win the match."


Kerber - winner at Melbourne Park earlier this year and the second seed - gets things underway against Denisa Allertova in the second round on Saturday.

Victoria Azarenka - the 2012 winner - meets Zarina Diyas for a spot in the third round, 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki clashes with wildcard Zhang Shuai, while in-form Sloane Stephens faces Eugenie Bouchard.

Among the other seeds in action will be Carla Suarez Navarro, Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci.

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