2017 Indian Wells Women’s Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The BNP Paribas Open was set to be a battle for the world number one spot between Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams, but Serena’s withdrawal means that the German is now the new world number one. That does not take anything away from what should be an exciting tournament, and we have your run down of the draw.
Serena’s withdrawal means Karolina Pliskova is not the second seed. Like the others seeds, the Czech has a bye in the opening round and will kick off her tournament in the second. There are some tough matches ahead for Pliskova, including Monica Puig who she is due to face in the second round. Irina Begu is the first seed Pliskova will face with Timea Bacsinszky being the projected fourth round opponent. The Swiss has Kiki Bertens in her section, but she has a tough second match against the winner of Tsvetana Pironkova and Belinda Bencic. There are many threats to the second seed in her section, and while it will not be a shocker if she is upset in the early rounds, Pliskova should have too much quality and make it to the last eight.
Garbine Muguruza is out of form and has recently been injured, so her Indian Wells ambitions may be lower than usual. The Spaniard should be able to make round three where she is due to face the dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The uncertainty surrounding the seventh seed means that Elina Svitolina will be the favourite to make it to the last eight In this section. The Ukrainian has a good draw, too, with Daria Gavrilova being the only player that can cause an upset before the fourth round.
Pliskova and Svitolina will likely meet in the quarter finals for the sixth time, and the stats favour the Czech. Pliskova has won all five meetings, and it is difficult to see past her here.
Prediction: Pliskova def. Svitolina
Dominika Cibulkova has been bumped to fourth seed as she eyes another big title. The Slovak will be favourite to make the final four from this quarter, but she has a tough draw ahead, starting with the winner of Jelena Ostapenko vs Danka Kovinic. The highly touted Russian, Daria Kasatkina, will look to spring another upset when she faces Cibulkova in round three, with the winner possibly going on to meet Barbora Strycova in round four. The Czech could face Sara Errani, who she has previously struggled against in the second round and then Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in round three, so an upset is not out of the question.
Svetlana Kuznetsova is the other top eight seed in the section, but the ever unpredictable Russian’s tournament is once again hard to call. Kuznetsova should be OK to make round four with Camila Giorgi and Roberta Vinci being her likely opponents in rounds two and three. Johanna Konta is back in action after recent injury issues, and due to her recent inactivity it is hard to call how well she will do here. She could face fellow Brit Heather Watson in round two before being scheduled against the out of form Caroline Garcia in round three. The Frenchwoman’s struggles could leave the door open for Christina McHale to make the third round. Konta should make it through to round four, but may find Kuznetsova too much.
Cibulkova leads the head to head 6-3 against the Russian, but this match-up will largely depend on form. Cibulkova will be the favourite, but the slow courts may favour Kuznetsova and I am feeling a good run for the former grand slam champion.
Prediction: Kuznetsova def. Cibulkova
Madison Keys returns to action this week after missing the start of the season with injury. The American is the eighth seed here and will be keen to make an impression, but don’t expect too much in her first tournament back. Keys has a good opener against a qualifier to get her rhythm back, but from there is gets tricky. The American’s likely exit will be at the hands of Caroline Wozniacki in round four. The Dane is in good form and should be comfortable until her round three match with Carla Suarez Navarro. It is hard to look past Wozniacki due to her good start to the season and Keys being rusty after a long layoff.
Simona Halep’s season has yet to really get going, so the fourth seed will be looking to use this tournament to get into form. The Romanian opens against Alison Riske or Donna Vekic before facing the in-form Kristina Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman has had a positive start to 2017 and could spring an upset against an out of form Halep. Mladenovic is not terribly reliable though, and I see Halep outlasting the 28 seed.
With form being on Wozniacki’s side, I see the Dane making the last eight at Halep’s expense. If the fourth seed can play her way into form, then she will likely make it to the semis, but it is hard to make that call.
Prediction: Wozniacki def. Halep
Kerber comes into Indian Wells safe with the knowledge that she is the world number one, and that must take some pressure off. The German has a good draw to the quarter finals with a lot of the dangerous seeds being in the other half of the draw. She opens against Andrea Petkovic or Vania king with Yulia Putintseva being the first seed projected. Elena Vesnina’s form is not the best, so she could exit early at the hands of Shelby Rogers or Timea Babos. Either way, it is difficult to see past Kerber making the last eight.
Agnieszka Radwanska needs to find form, and Indian Wells is a perfect place to do so. The Pole has some tough players ahead of her however, so it will be interesting to see if she can get past Ekaterina Makarova in round two and promising youngster Ana Konjuh in round three. From there she will likely face an American. Coco Vandeweghe and Venus Williams are projected to meet in round three, but I think Radwanska will scrape through to the last eight.
Kerber vs Radwanska will be a big match for both players as they search for form. Kerber will have the advantage though and I am picking the German to make the last four.
Prediction: Pliskova def. Strycova
Kuznetsova def. Pliskova
Kerber def. Wozniacki
Kerber’s form at the moment makes it so difficult to predict her matches, but this time the German should turn it around and make the final. Pliskova is a favourite against Kuznetsova, but the Russian can play well enough to win the whole thing. I see a good run on the horizon, so I predict a Kerber vs Kuznetsova final.
Kerber def. Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova will have a great week in Indian Wells but ultimately fall short to the world number one who looks much better this time.