For the first time since 2019, the WTA Indian Wells 1000 finally kicks off in its normal Spring spot. Day 1 showcases the WTA only to kick off one of the biggest tournaments of the year. Sofia Kenin is the biggest name in the four matches below, though her play has been far from the level she displayed to earn her elite status on the WTA Tour. Qinwen Zheng is certainly one to watch, as a strong young player who has had a great start to 2022. Tennis fans everywhere will be thrilled Indian Wells is back and as always, every match is predicted here.
WTA Indian Wells Day 1 Predictions
Ekaterina Alexandrova vs Elvina Kalieva
Head-to-head: First meeting
This first round meeting pits the veteran Alexandrova against the young American wildcard. Kalieva is a teenager who plays mostly at the Futures level and is looking for her first tour-level match win. Alexandrova has won just two of six matches this year but has faced tough competition. She did score a strong win against Camila Giorgi in St. Petersburg and took about a month off before Indian Wells. She is sitting at the edge of the top-50 and will be motivated to make a run here. She reached the third round her last time in the desert in 2019. Experience will be key and Kalieva simply is not quite at the level required yet and Alexandrova should have no problem winning the match.
Prediction: Alexandrova in 2
Misaki Doi vs Anastasia Potapova
Both players competing here are looking to turn their fortunes around after a slow start to the year. Potapova is just 1-6 outside qualifying in 2022 with her one win coming via retirement. Doi started the year strong by making the semis in Adelaide but has lost in the first round her last three tournaments. Doi is a veteran with plenty of experience trying to continue to fight on tour, while Potapova is a younger player with a big serve. Doi with have to outlast Potapova with her baseline game. She has the benefit of good weather to make it easier with her to stay with an opponent ten year her junior. This match will be close, but Potapova has struggled this year and Doi can force her into mistakes and will take the match.
Prediction: Doi in 3
Qinwen Zheng vs Vera Zvonareva
Head-to-head: 1-0 Zheng
These two players have started 2022 in almost polar opposite fashion. Zvonareva won her first match of the year but has since lost six straight, including her last four sets. Zheng reached the semis in Melbourne as a qualifier, qualified and won a match in the Australian Open, and captured a Futures title. Zheng is still relatively unknown as a teenager but recently cracked the top-50 for the first time. Zvonareva is 37 and on the tail end of her career and will struggle keeping up with Zheng. Zheng is an exciting young talent and will look to put that on display at her first time in Indian Wells. Zheng has looked great this year and Zvonareva is not the player she used to be. Zheng will continue her good form and win convincingly, just as she did over Zvonareva earlier this year in Melbourne.
Prediction: Zheng in 2
Sofia Kenin vs Beatriz Haddad Maia
Head-to-head: 2-0 Hadda Maia
Kenin is currently going through a shockingly bad run of form. After winning a Grand Slam and making another final in 2020, Kenin has struggled to win any match and is well outside the Top 100 in the world. She won her first two matches of the year but has lost her last five since, winning just one set in those matches. Haddad Maia plays well on clay but has done well on hard courts this year. She has started the year strong with an 8-5 record, though she has struggled to beat top players. Kenin, unfortunately, is not a top player right now, giving Haddad Maia a real chance. This prediction would seem insane one year ago, but Kenin is clearly struggling and Haddad Maia is playing good tennis, so the Brazilian will continue her strong play and take the match.
Prediction: Haddad Maia in 2
Main Photo from Getty.