The action is heating up in the Californian desert, as WTA Indian Wells second round matches begin on Friday, with several exciting matchups to look forward to. An all-American showdown between Sloane Stephens and Jessica Pegula will be one of the highlights of the day. Can the 2017 US Open champion cause an upset or will Pegula be too solid?
As always, we predict every match. The day’s 16 matches are split between four articles, including this one. One features Simona Halep vs Marta Kostyuk, the second highlights Emma Raducanu vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and the third features Leylah Fernandez vs Alize Cornet.
WTA Indian Wells Day 3 Predictions
Elise Mertens vs Jasmine Paolini
H2H: Mertens 2-0
Elise Mertens needed three sets to beat Jasmine Paolini when they last met in Prague earlier this year, a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-3 victory. Mertens hasn’t been in great form over the last few months, barely winning over 50% of her matches. Paolini has been given a second chance in Indian Wells as a lucky loser, after losing her final round qualifying match to Kateryna Kozlova in straight sets. The Italian managed to win her first WTA tour level title in Portoroz last month and made the most of her second chance in this draw with a 6-0 3-6 6-2 win over Mai Hontama in the first round. Mertens is definitely the better player, especially on a hard court. Mertens has made a habit of making things complicated in matches she is expected to win easily. She should be able to avoid that trend on this occasion.
Prediction: Mertens in 2
Elena Rybakina vs Yulia Putintseva
H2H: Putintseva 1-0
A battle between the two top ranked Kazakhs. Putintseva defeated Rybakina 4-6 7-6 6-2 in Rome last year in their only previous meeting. Rybakina will have a better chance at victory in this matchup on a hard court. However, the slow conditions in Indian Wells will allow Putintseva to get into extended rallies and frustrate the big-hitting Rybakina into errors–just like she did in Rome. Rybakina retired injured in her most recent match in Chicago last week so there’s a slight question mark surrounding her fitness at the moment. Putintseva is in good shape right now, a finalist in Nur-Sultan last week and comfortably defeated Andrea Petkovic 7-6 6-1 in her first match this week. I like Putintseva in this match-up in these conditions.
Prediction: Putintseva in 3
Irina-Camelia Begu vs Jil Teichmann
Irina-Camelia Begu is back in action for the first time since a disappointing first round loss to Andrea Petkovic at the US Open. The Romanian made a solid start to her Indian Wells campaign with a 6-2 7-6 victory over Fiona Ferro. Begu looks unlikely to progress any further this week with an In-form Jil Teichmann standing in her way. Teichmann’s losses ever since the start of the US Open series have been against quality opponents, Collins, Barty, Kontaveit, Kvitova and Vondrousova. Begu is not in that class. Teichmann is the better player, she has more style and consistency to her game, importantly Teichmann is full of confidence at the moment.
Prediction: Teichmann in 2
Sloane Stephens vs Jessica Pegula
H2H: Pegula 1-0
Sloane Stephens battled from a set and a break down to defeat Heather Watson 6-7 7-5 6-1 to kick-start her Indian Wells campaign. It wasn’t Stephens’ best performance, but it was encouraging to see her dig deep and pull through from a tough situation, in the past she would have faded away to a loss. Stephens has played her best tennis at the biggest events over the last few months, including each of the last three Majors. This looks like another tournament where Stephens is ready to raise her level. Pegula has had her best season on tour, but her form has cooled off recently. I think Stephens is the better player. She’s the better athlete and has a bit more flair and x-factor to her game; she can win this if she wants it.
Prediction: Stephens in 2
Main Photo from Getty.