The women will be in action for the Opening Round at the 2019 BNP Paribas on Wednesday, for this fan favorite WTA Mandatory event. It’s these early rounds where the upsets can (and do!) occur. In Indian Wells, the temperature and the wind can change at a moment, and this desert paradise has been hit with some heavy rainfall of late. But, sit tight, as the weather can change in a moment. Regardless of the temperature, the competition will be hot for the season’s first Major. Here’s a look at four matches worth watching on Wednesday.
Indian Wells Round 1
Kristina Mladenovic vs Zheng Saisai
This is the first time Mladenovic and Zheng will meet, and I can’t say I’d like to be Zheng right now. Kristina Mladenovic put in one of her best ever performances, defeating World #1 Naomi Osaka in straight set at the Dubai Duty Free. She’ll come into the California desert playing with a keen measure of confidence. But the same can be said for Zheng Saisai, who just took home a trophy in Acapulco. Teaming up with Victoria Azarenka, the two ousted hometown favorite Guiliana Olmos and American Desirae Krawczyk. In this match-up, you’ll have two women unafraid to come in and end points at the net. Expect short rallies and skilled placement to make up this match. But expect Mladenovic to walk away the winner. Her singles skills are far superior and so is her will to win.
Prediction: Mladenovic in 2
Aleksandra Krunic vs Amanda Anisimova
It hasn’t started well for Serbian Aleksandra Krunic. In fact, she hasn’t made it past the second round in 2019. So far, her first round wins were to be expected – the numbers were in her favor. In Indian Wells, I doubt she’ll get past American Amanda Anisimova. Rising teen tennis phenom Anisimova got into the main draw on a wild card, but her performance at the Australian Open, taking out the #11 seed Aryna Sabalenka, shows she’s a player looking to win. She had a dismal loss in the quarter-finals to Petra Kvitova. But, the biggest takeaway of her AO appearance is the 17-year-old is poised for a big breakthrough and I think it’s at this tournament where it’ll happen.
Prediction: Anisimova in 2
Kristen Flipkens vs Eugenie Bouchard
It’s easy to overlook the Canadian’s talent when most news about Eugenie Bouchard is a “stop the press” dating escapade. An angry Simona Halep was made aware of one fan’s desire to marry Genie during a tight match. And, if that’s not enough, now the Montreal Gazette is headline grabbing with news that her Super Bowl Twitter bet will be made into a movie. Who’ll speculate on whether Bouchard will win her opening round at Indian Wells when they can guess which Hollywood starlet will play her? Bouchard will start what may be a short-lived run in Indian Wells against Belgian Kristen Flipkens. Now sitting at #56, Flipkens was once as high as World #13. She’s a capable player who won’t succumb to her opponent’s crowd support. Bouchard showed promise starting out 2019, and we may see some great points during this match. But I see her exiting in her opening round.
Prediction: Flipkens in 3
Venus Williams vs Andrea Petkovic
Head-to-head: Williams 2-2 Petkovic
There’s not much history to predict the winner in this battle of the 30-somethings, standing at 2-2. Their last match was in 2014, a much different time in both ladies’ careers. Petkovic can always surprise and I’m sure no one has forgotten her victory inspired worm dance. But 2019 has not offered many opportunities to display the dance, not yet moving past the second round in any tournament. Venus hasn’t any tournament play since the Australian Open. In her unfortunate draw, she met then World #1 Simona Halep in the Round of 32.
Neither of these players has momentum behind them. But Indian Wells tends to bring out the best in Venus. A strong baseliner playing on slow hard courts will give her plenty of time to set up for some wicked shot making. There may be some ebbs and flows as is typical of any match Venus plays, but this is her match to win. You’ll probably bite your nails a bit because Petkovic won’t make it easy, but Venus will come through in two.
Prediction: Venus is 2
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