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Sloane Stephens beat Heather Watson in 3 sets in the Indian Wells opener

Sloane Stephens defeated Heather Watson 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-1 in her opening match at the BNP Paribas Open.

Stephens won 7 out of 18 break points. She took a 5–0 lead in the third set before Watson held on, then took the win. Watson had seven aces and seven double faults on the hard courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Stephens advanced to a second round match against fellow American Jessica Pegula.

American Shelby Rogers, who defeated top-ranked Ash Barty in the third round of the US Open, was to face Ukraine’s Annalina Kalinina in her match of the night. American Madison Brengle, Madison Keys and qualifier Alicia Parks also played later.

The men’s main draw game begins on Thursday.

Three-time major champion Andy Murray and four-time major champion Kim Clijsters received wild cards in the event. US Open champion Emma Radukanu and runner-up Leyla Fernandez have entered.

Heather Watson of Britain plays for Sloane Stephens of the United States at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 in Indian Wells, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Electronic Hawkeye cameras, previously in use in tournaments, would handle line calls for each match. The chair umpire and ball kids will be on hand.

The combined ATP and WTA tournaments are missing some of the sport’s biggest names, including men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Barty. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are also out in the men’s section. Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are missing in the women’s draw. Second-place finisher Arya Sabalenka said she tested positive COVID-19 After reaching the desert and is in isolation.

The tournament was moved from its normal March date because coronavirus global pandemic.

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