Saturday, March 12, 2016

Venus stunned in return; Gibbs upsets Keys

Venus Williams, playing in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford, lost to qualifier Kurumi Nara on Friday in the sec-
ond round in Indian Wells. It was Williams' first appearance
in the tournament in 15 years. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Venus Williams' long-awaited return to Indian Wells lasted one match.
   Playing in the prestigious tournament for the first time in 15 years, the 10th-seeded Williams suffered a stunning 6-4, 6-3 loss to qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan on Friday in the second round. All seeds in the BNP Paribas Open received first-round byes.
   Williams, who at 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) is one foot (30.5 centi- meters) taller than Nara, took her loss in stride.
   "It was enough of a fairy tale to come here and play," Williams, 35, told reporters. "A win would have been nice, but that means I have to come back and play next year. I would definitely love to come back."
   Williams' younger sister, Serena, returned to Indian Wells last year for the first time since a racially charged incident involving both in 2001.
   Serena, seeded No. 1 this year, dismissed qualifier Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-2, 6-1 in 63 minutes.
   Venus Williams was the highest of nine women's singles seeds to lose Friday. No. 23 Madison Keys, a semifinalist in the 2015 Australian Open at 19 years old, fell to qualifier Nicole Gibbs of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area.
   It was Keys' first match since she suffered a left leg injury in a fourth-round loss to Zhang Shuai in the Australian Open in January.
   Gibbs, a 23-year-old ex-Stanford All-American, will face unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan on Sunday in the third round. Shvedova beat 11th-seeded Lucie Safarova, last year's French Open runner-up to Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-4.
   Safarova was playing in only her second match since October after battling a bacterial infection.
   On the men's side, wild card Mackenzie McDonald, a UCLA junior from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, lost to qualifier Vincent Millot of France 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
   In the opening round of men's doubles, Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and San Francisco native Sam Querrey fell to Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-4, 6-3.
   Johnson and Querrey reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open last September, shocking top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round.

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