"A desert is a place without expectation."
Yesterday, when world number 1 Serena Williams defeated a red-hot Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets at the BNP Paribas Open, she said repeatedly that she hadn't expected to get this far in the tournament. In fact, this "I didn't think I would get this far" phrase has been one of Williams' favorites for the past year or so.
I, for one, don't believe a word of it. Serena Williams' return to Indian Wells, while it may represent a turning point in her sorrow and anger over an incident that occurred many years ago, also represents an opportunity for her to win a huge event she hasn't been available to win in a long time. The top seed is there grab a big trophy, as well she should be.
But while Williams' stated expectations don't really jive with reality, other expectations really have been turned over in the desert in the past several days:
2nd seed Maria Sharapova was taken out in the 4th round by a clearly emotional Flavia Pennetta, the tournament's defending champion. A sometimes-crying Pennetta lost the first set, but then--in true Fighting Italian style--got herself together and dismantled Sharapova.
British number 1 Heather Watson upset 2014 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round. Watson, however, then went out to Carla Suarez Navarro in the next round.
Elina Svitolina eliminated Ekaterina Makarova, Belinda Bencic beat comeback player Caroline Wozniacki, and the tour's other comeback player, Ana Ivanovic, was defeated by Caroline Garcia.
Lesia #Tsurenko is the 1st qualifier to make the QF here since '04. Thanks to her confidence: http://t.co/3bpraFOXXS pic.twitter.com/vT9MWNO16Q
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 18, 2015
Very notable is qualifier Lesia Tsurenko, who--so far--has beaten 9th seed Andrea Petovic, 20th seed Alize Cornet and 6th seed Eugenie Bouchard. Now she faces Jelena Jankovic, who--out of nowhere--has returned to vintage JJ form in the desert. Tsurenko's run could very well end today, but what a stunning run it has been. (Note: Tsurenko rolled her ankle during her match against Bouchard, an accident I thought might lead to her retirement. It didn't. Bouchard was also injured, but tennis commentators seem to have forgotten that it was an injured Tsurenko who beat an injured Bouchard.)
Serena Williams herself had to put up a big fight in the first round against the ever-problematic Monica Niculescu. Since then, Williams has had it pretty easy.