As a wild card entry into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week, Ashley Kratzer had the misfortune of drawing the #1 seed in the women’s qualifying event to open the two week competition. Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova reached her career high WTA ranking last month (#62) and earned her first tour championship last fall. By all accounts, this could be a short trip to the desert for the 19-year old from Newport Beach.
At 0-4 in the first set, Kratzer looked immediately shaky, losing the first eight points of the match and calling for her coach on the first side change. Kozlova, meanwhile, must have been ready to hit cruise control toward the tournament’s second round. And it was smooth sailing the rest of the way… just not for the Ukranian upstart.
Krazter, the former USTA National girls’ champion, reeled off 12 of 13 remaining sets to notch a surprisingly dominant 6-4, 6-1 victory to kick off her Indian Wells campaign. A hot service game and increasingly pinpoint groundstrokes turned the tide, leaving Kozlova as bewildered in the end as Kratzer had looked at the start.
Kratzer faces fellow American Sachia Vickery at 11am Tuesday.
Other winners in the early qualifying rounds were Madison Brengle, Bernarda Pera, and Japan’s Kurumi Nara, a finalist in last week’s ITF at Morgan Run.
Santa Monica’s Nicole Gibbs stormed out to a 6-1 first set win on Stadium 2, only to falter in successive frames dominated by Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who advanced 1-6, 6-2, 6-0.
The Women’s Main Draw was announced in a ceremony outside center court, featuring US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport. The most anticipated draws included Venus and Serena Williams, who are on target to meet in the 3rd Round, should fate allow.
The Mens’ Qualifier opens on Tuesday, with the Main Draw announced later in the day.