We are down to the business end of the tournament at the WTA Indian Wells Open. A blockbuster matchup awaits on Friday night between a pair of Grand Slam champions as Victoria Azarenka faces off against Jelena Ostapenko. Both are fearsome competitors and both will be desperate to reach the final. But who will come out on top?
WTA Indian Wells Semi-final Prediction
Victoria Azarenka vs Jelena Ostapenko
Head-to-head: Azarenka 1-0 Ostapenko
Azarenka has stormed through into the last four without dropping a set with the two-time former champion clearly enjoying the conditions in the Californian desert. The Belarusian’s journey to the final four started with a win via retirement against Magda Linette as she led 7-5 3-0. Azarenka then eliminated the seventh seeded Petra Kvitova thanks to a 7-5 6-4 triumph, followed by a 6-3 6-4 victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The 32-year-old’s best performance came in the quarterfinals where she cruised past Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-2.
Ostapenko, meanwhile, has put together a strong second half of the season, showing once again that her best tennis is very much capable of beating most opponents. Ostapenko started the tournament with a 6-3 6-0 thrashing of Hsieh Su-wei before outlasting Yulia Putintseva 6-3 2-6 6-3. Ostapenko caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament in the fourth round when she eliminated the second seeded Iga Swiatek, 6-4 6-3, and the 24-year-old then booked her spot in the semifinals with a hard-fought 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Shelby Rogers, an outcome that seemed unlikely when she trailed 1-3 0-40 in the deciding set.
The only previous match between the pair took place at Roland Garros in 2019. Azarenka won that contest 6-4 7-6 after Ostapenko hit a scarcely believable 17 double faults and 60 unforced errors. A repeat of that is unlikely, but Ostapenko probably still won’t enjoy this match-up, especially on this slow and gritty surface.
Azarenka is one of the best counterpunchers the tour has seen over the last few decades and she has the tools to ask a lot of questions of Ostapenko. Azarenka is experienced enough to know how to approach a match like this against an ultra-aggressive opponent. The Belarusian also has a strong return of serve and she will surely put Ostapenko’s vulnerable second serve under real pressure. Expect Azarenka to eventually wear Ostapenko down from the back of the court. Ultimately, Azarenka is too smart and too strong to stumble in this situation.
Prediction: Azarenka in 2
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