Catherine Bellis vs Victoria Azarenka, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇺🇸 Catherine Bellis vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Two-time former champion: Victoria Azarenka will begin her 2018 Miami Open campaign with a difficult opening round clash against American rising-star: Catherine Bellis. Azarenka made her much anticipated return to the tour in Indian Wells where she was eliminated in the second round. Azarenka will be keen to build on that result and have a better result in Miami but Bellis has generally been in good form of late and has shown that she is capable of defeating more credentialed opponents.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Bellis and Azarenka both arrive in Miami on the back of second round exits at the BNP Paribas Open. Bellis started her campaign with a comfortable straight set win over Sara Sorribes Tormo before giving up a 1 set lead to succumb to defending champion Elena Vesnina in 3 sets. Bellis has had some great results of late, most notably her run through the qualifying draw to the quarter-finals in Doha which included wins over Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova. Still in her teens, it is understandable that Bellis is quite inconsistent.

Azarenka started her Indian Wells campaign with a commanding straight set win over Heather Watson in what was her first competitive match since Wimbledon last year. Unfortunately for Azarenka her level is the second round was far from her best as she suffered a straight set loss to Sloane Stephens. Overall, it was a mixed week for Vika, she showed some good signs but her convincing loss to Stephens was quite uncharacteristic. In general, I think Azarenka looked good and will quickly rise back up the rankings. Azarenka knows she has a lot to work on and is determined to climb back to the top of women’s tennis. Azarenka will head to Miami determined to make amends for that loss to Stephens as she continues this new stage of her career.




The only previous match between the pair took place at the opening round stage of Wimbledon last year, Azarenka claimed a 3-6 6-2 6-1 victory on that occasion.

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Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells Final Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells Preview #BNPPO18
🏆🌵 Final: 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

The next generation is here! The first premier mandatory event will come to an exciting finale on Sunday as the 20th seeded Daria Kasatkina takes on Naomi Osaka, a pair 20-year-old’s. Kasatkina and Osaka have both beaten several quality opponents on route to the Indian Wells final, both dropping just 1 set on route to the final. This will be the first career meeting between Kasatkina and Osaka, two inexperienced players on this huge stage. With so much on the line, who will step up and make the most of this golden opportunity?

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the semi-final of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Kasatkina and Osaka will both be playing for the biggest title of their careers. In fact, Osaka is yet to win a WTA title and has only played in 1 final, beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo in 2016. Kasatkina has 1 career title to her name, a triumph in Charleston on green clay last year. Kasatkina has played in 2 other finals, including a straight set loss to Elina Svitolina last month in Dubai.

Daria Kasatkina’s route to the final has been extremely impressive. The Russian stared the week with a straight set win over Katerina Siniakova before claiming 3 consecutive straight set wins over Grand Slam champions: 6-4 6-3 over Sloane Stephens, 6-4 7-5 over Caroline Wozniacki and 6-0 6-2 over Angelique Kerber. Kasatkina secured her spot in the biggest final of her career with a gripping 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over Venus Williams, a fourth consecutive victory over a Grand Slam champion and a 6th victory over a top 10 opponent in the last month and a half. Kasatkina was behind for the large majority of her win over Venus, at 4-5 0-30 down and on a second serve in the deciding set, it looked like Kasatkina was gone. The Russian showed great heart, she went on to drop just 1 point from that stage to claim one of the biggest wins of her career.




Naomi Osaka’s route to the final has also been impressive. Osaka has beaten 3 former / current world number 1’s. Osaka started the event with straight set wins over Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, great wins over 2 very different opponents. Osaka then went on to beat Sachia Vickery in 3 sets before being pushed to a third set for the only time at this event as she beat Maria Sakkari in the fourth round. Osaka’s two most recent victories were arguably her most impressive, a 6-2 6-3 demolition of Karolina Pliskova and a 6-3 6-0 thrashing of Simona Halep. To drop a combined 8 games in wins over Pliskova and Halep is outstanding. There is no doubt that Osaka has shown consistency that we have never previously seen from her, a new sense of maturity and belief is evident in her game.

This match-up will feature a fascinating contrast in styles. The hard, flat hitting of Osaka against the heavy game of Kasatkina and the Russian’s outstanding movement. It will be interesting to see how this match pans out in the first career meeting between the two and with so much on the line, who will prevail?

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Venus Williams vs Daria Kasatkina, Indian Wells SF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells SF Preview
🇺🇸 (8) Venus Williams vs. 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina

Friday’s opening semi-final from the BNP Paribas Open sees the 8th seeded Venus Williams come up against the 20th seeded Daria Kasatkina. Williams and Kasatkina have both been very impressive on route to the semi-final stage in Indian Wells, both Williams and Kasatkina have reached the final 4 without dropping a set. The pair played out a couple of epic matches in 2016, both ended deep in a third set, split 1 win apiece. Expect another great battle between these two given how well they have both played in the Californian desert.

Venus Williams of the United States in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

The evergreen Venus Williams is into yet another semi-final, 16 years after she reached world number 1 for the first time. Venus has had to overcome all types of different challenges over the last week and a half. Most notably, Venus was able to defeat Serena for the first time in 4 years in the third round with a 6-3 6-4 victory. Venus also claimed a straight set win over Sorana Cirstea before booking her spot in the final 4 with wins over Anastasija Sevastova and Carla Suarez Navarro, two potentially tricky opponents for the American. Venus’s commanding 6-3 6-2 win over Suarez Navarro on Thursday evening was particularly impressive.

Daria Kasatkina is in red-hot form. Kasatkina has won 11 of her last 14 matches which includes a semi-final appearance in St. Petersburg and a runner-up performance in Dubai last month. Kasatkina continues to be a giant killer. Kasatkina has beaten 5 top 10 opponents in the last 2 months including back-to-back victories over top 10 opponents to reach the biggest semi-final of her career in Indian Wells. Kasatkina has rocketed past 3 Grand Slam champions in a row: a 6-4 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens, 6-4 7-5 over Caroline Wozniacki and finally a 6-0 6-2 demolition of Angelique Kerber. The slow, high bouncing hard courts in Indian Wells are proving perfect for the heavy Kasatkina forehand and her amazing defensive abilities.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Both matches were back in 2016, Kasatkina shocked Venus in Auckland, a 6-7 6-3 6-3 win before Venus outlasted Kasatkina in an epic at Wimbledon, 7-5 4-6 10-8. 2 years later, Kasatkina has improved dramatically but Venus has also improved. Who will emerge victorious on this occasion?

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Simona Halep vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells SF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells SF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

A blockbuster semi-final from the BNP Paribas Open sees 2015 champion and current world number 1: Simona Halep come up against an in-form rising-star: Naomi Osaka. This match-up features and interesting contrast in styles, the outstanding movement and consistency of Halep against the explosive power of Osaka. Halep has had the better of this matchup in the past, the Romanian holds a 3-0 H2H record over Osaka. However, Osaka is playing the best tennis of her career right now and will fancy her chances of causing a big upset.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Simona Halep has now reached the semi-final stage at all 4 tournaments she has competed in this year. Halep has amassed an extremely impressive 18-1 win/loss record in 2018, a record that reflects her world number 1 ranking. Halep has had some tough matches on route to the semi-finals. The 2015 Champion started the event with a 6-4 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova before surviving a real scare to get past Caroline Dolehide 1-6 7-6 6-2. Halep started the second week with a 7-5 6-1 win over Qiang Wang before fighting from 1-3 down in the deciding set to beat Petra Martic 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a match that was played in tough conditions. When Halep dropped the second set and fell behind early in the third she looked frustrated and destined to lose, the Romanian displayed her improved mental toughness to regroup and win 5 straight games to close the match and move into the final 4.

Naomi Osaka is having the best tournament of her career, the 20-year-old is into her second and biggest semi-final of her career. Osaka has had the toughest draw of any player remaining in the draw. Osaka started the event with excellent straight set wins over Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka was pushed to a third set in the fourth round, overcoming a stern challenge to beat Maria Sakkari 6-1 5-7 6-1. Osaka’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she thrashed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-3. Osaka completely outplayed Pliskova from start to finish, Osaka was calm and calculated and executed the perfect game. Osaka has displayed consistency that we have not really previously seen from her over the last week and a half in Indian Wells.

Simona Halep has won all 3 of the previous matches between the pair. The pair last met earlier this at the Australian Open, Halep won 6-3 6-2 at the fourth round stage. Osaka made a promising start in that match but ultimately did not have the consistency to compete with Halep. Their other two matches went to a third set, a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win for Halep in Miami last year and a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win at Roland Garros in 2016.

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Angelique Kerber vs Daria Kasatkina, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇩🇪 (10) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber and Daria Kasatkina will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open. Kerber and Kasatkina both bring scintillating form into this final 8 clash in Indian Wells, whilst the head-to-head record between the pair is tied at 2-2. All signs point to a very close, competitive clash between two of the best movers on the tour.

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Kerber has rocketed through to the final 8 in Indian Wells after a slow start to the event. Kerber was in trouble in her opening round match as she trailed Ekaterina Markova by a set but the German responded strongly in a rain interrupted clash, winning 3-6 6-4 6-2. Kerber then overcame another troublesome start to defeat defending champion Elena Vesnina 7-5 6-2. There was no such slow start for Kerber in the fourth round where she thrashed Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-1 in what was a near-flawless performance by the 2-time major winner.

Daria Kasatkina is in some of the best form of her young career. Kasatkina ignited her reason last month with a semi-final showing in St. Petersburg and a run to the final in Dubai where she took out several big names such as Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza. Kasatkina has not dropped a set on route to the final 8 in Indian Wells. The 20th seed secured her spot in the quarter-finals by beating the two most recent Grand Slam champions, a 6-4 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens and a 6-4 7-5 win over Caroline Wozniacki. Kasatkina’s second win over Wozniacki in as many months was particularly impressive, not many players are able to outsmart Wozniacki but the Russian is making a habit out of doing just that.

This has proven to be a very close matchup. The head-to-head record between the two is split at 2 wins apiece. Their most recent match took place in Tokyo last year where Kerber won 7-6 6-3. The pair met on two other occasions in 2017, Kasatkina won 6-4 0-6 6-4 in Doha and 7-6 6-2 in Sydney.

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Venus Williams vs Carla Suarez Navarro, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇺🇸 (8) Venus Williams vs. 🇪🇸 (27) Carla Suarez Navarro

An interesting quarter-final clash from the Californian desert sees Venus Williams come up against Carla Suarez Navarro. These two opponents are very familiar with each other having played on 8 previous occasions, Venus holds a 5-3 H2H advantage. This is an interesting matchup because of the large contrast in styles between the pair, the powerful game of Venus up against the crafty Spaniard. Both have taken out some big names up until this point and will feel confident heading into this match.

Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Venus Williams has come through a tough section of the draw to reach the final 8 without dropping a set. Venus started the week with a 6-3 6-4 win over Sorana Cirstea in what was her first regular tour event of the year. Venus then claimed her first victory over Serena in 4 years, a hard-fought 6-3 6-4 win. The 8th seeds toughest match was in the fourth round where she beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 6-4. The first set could have gone either way but Venus was more clinical in the important moments and managed to come from a break down in each set to secure a straight set victory.

Suarez Navarro is into her second quarter-final of the year at a big event after reaching the final 8 in Melbourne in January. Suarez Navarro required 3 sets to get past Su-Wei Hsieh in the opening round before producing a vastly improved performance to eliminate the 4th seeded Elina Svitolina 7-5 6-3 in what was one of the Spaniard’s best victories in recent years. The 27th seed confirmed her spot in the quarter-finals with a fairly comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Danielle Collins.

Venus Williams has won the last 3 meetings between the pair and holds a overall 5-3 win/loss record of Suarez Navarro. The last meeting between the pair took place at the U.S Open last year, a 6-3 3-6 6-1 win for the American. Prior to that, Venus defeated Carla 7-6 6-4 at Wimbledon in 2016.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka will open the night session on Wednesday when they go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of the BNP Paribas Open. This promises to be an exciting encounter between two of the most aggressive, powerful players on tour. Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to reach the semi-final stage in Indian Wells for the third year in a row whilst Osaka will be aiming to reach the final 4 at a premier mandatory level event for the first time.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova arrived in Indian Wells on the back of a disappointing Middle Eastern swing, importantly the Czech has been able to gain some much needed momentum at the BNP Paribas Open. Pliskova is into the quarter-final stage in Indian Wells for the third consecutive year thanks to wins over Irina-Camelia Begu, Shuai Zhang and Amanda Anisimova. Clearly it has been a favourable draw for Pliskova and she has not necessarily been playing at her best but has been good enough to work her way into the business end of the tournament.

Naomi Osaka is having one of her most impressive tournaments, reaching the quarter-final stage at a premier mandatory event for the first time. Osaka started the event with a big 6-4 6-4 upset win over 2-time former champion Maria Sharapova. Osaka back-up that win nicely with straight set wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka confirmed her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. Osaka has certainly improved her consistency and stability in matches, that has been on show in Indian Wells.

The only previous match between the pair took place at the Rogers Cup last week. Pliskova was ahead 6-2 6-7 1-0 before Osaka retired injured. This is an interesting match-up given the explosive power that both ladies possess, a first strikes tennis battle.

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Simona Halep vs Petra Martic, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs 🇭🇷 Petra Martic

An interesting quarter-final clash in the Californian desert sees Simona Halep come up against Petra Martic. Halep and Martic have been two of the most consistent players in 2018. Halep has a 17/1 win/loss record in 2018 whilst Martic has amassed an 11/3 win/loss record thus far in 2018. Martic has already taken down some big names in Indian Wells but will need to raise her level even further if she is to upset the world number 1.

Simona Halep of Romania in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Simona Halep is one of just two former champions left in the draw at the BNP Paribas Open. The Romanian has not been at her best throughout the opening week of the tournament but has displayed her new mental strength in order to progress to the quarter-finals despite not playing great tennis. Halep started the event with an opening round bye before beating Kristyna Pliskova 6-4 6-4. The 2015 champion survived a huge scare in the third round where she overcame a slow start to beat Caroline Dolehide 1-6 7-6 6-2. Halep secured her spot in the quarter-finals with a 7-5 6-1 win over Qiang Wang in what was a scrappy match. Halep will hope to pick up her level as she moves into the business end of the tournament.

Petra Martic has become a big tournament specialist. Martic has reached the round 16 at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Australian Open in the last 12 months. Martic is now into the quarter-finals at a premier mandatory event for the first time. Martic has impressively moved into the final 8 at the BNP Paribas Open without a dropping a set. The 27-year-old started the week with a comfortable win over Tatjana Maria before eliminating the 25th seeded Barbora Strycova with a 7-5 6-4 win. Martic then claimed a big upset as she beat the 6th seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3 before securing her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3 7-6 win over Marketa Vondrousova. Martic did well to close out her fourth round in straight sets after she failed to serve out the match late in the second set.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Their most recent match took place in Guangzhou in 2015, Halep won that match 6-4 6-2. Martic’s victory over the Romanian came way back in 2011 in Copenhagen where the Croatian won 6-3 5-7 7-5. Clearly Halep is the more accomplished player but Martic has proven to be a dangerous opponent for many top players this year, can the Croatian cause a big upset?

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Daria Kasatkina, Indian Wells R4 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R4 Preview
🇩🇰 (2) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina

Caroline Wozniacki and Daria Kasatkina will renew hostilities when they meet at the fourth round stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday evening. Wozniacki has obviously been one of the top performers in 2018 and will head into this match as the favourite. However, Kasatkina is also in great form and beat Wozniacki last month in St. Petersburg in straight sets.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Caroline Wozniacki laboured into the fourth round on Monday. Wozniacki was forced to work surprisingly hard to get past Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the second seed eventually claimed a hard-fought 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory over the Belarussian. Prior to Wozniacki’s third round win she defeated Lara Arruabarrena 6-4 6-1 after she had received a bye through the opening round. Wozniacki commented after her win over Sasnovich that she finds the Indian Wells surface very challenging because it is so slow and high bouncing, not the ideal conditions for the Dane who can be exposed on a surface like this.

Kasatkina is a player that certainly benefits from the unique conditions in Indian Wells. Kasatkina started the event with a straight set win over Katerina Siniakova before claiming an impressive 6-4 6-3 over Sloane Stephens. Kasatkina has the type of game that is benefited by the slow, high bouncing courts in Indian Wells. Those who play with heavy topspin are at an advantage on this surface, the Kasatkina forehand is a very heavy shot and was very effective in her victory over Sloane Stephens.

The head-to-head record between Wozniacki and Kasatkina is split at 1 win apiece. Wozniacki defeated Kasatkina 6-2 7-5 last year in Doha whilst more recently it was Kasatkina who claimed a 7-6 6-3 win at the quarter-final stage in St. Petersburg last month, can Kasatkina replicate that result and send the second seed packing?

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Karolina Pliskova vs Amanda Anisimova, Indian Wells R4 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R4 Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) Amanda Anisimova

Karolina Pliskova will look to end the surprise run of 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova when the pair meet at the fourth round stage of the BNP Paribas Open. Anisimova has defied the odds to reach the fourth round stage of the year’s first premier mandatory event having never previously won a main tour level match before this event. Can the young American keep her dream run alive or will Pliskova be too strong?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova has advanced to the final 16 in Indian Wells thanks to a pair of hard-fought wins. Pliskova received a bye through the opening round before claiming a 7-6 6-1 win over Irina-Camelia Begu, Pliskova made a really slow start to that match but saved a few set points as she recovered from a 1-5 first set deficit. The 5th seed secured her spot in the round of 16 with a 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over Shuai Zhang. Pliskova was up a set and break and looked destined for a straight set win but found herself getting the job done the hard way. Pliskova has reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells in the previous two years and given the state of the draw she will fancy her chances to do the same thing in 2018.

Amanda Anisimova is having the best week of her young tennis career. Anisimova arrived in Indian Wells in great form having come through the qualifying draw to reach the semi-finals at the Indian Wells 125K event last week. Anisimova has rocketed through the draw this week, beating much more credentialed opponents. Anisimova started the event with a 6-2 6-2 win over Pauline Parmentier before beating an out of form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-1. It was in the third round where the 16-year-old made her biggest move, putting a stop to Petra Kvitova’s 14-match winning streak with a huge 6-2 6-4 victory.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair, whilst there are almost 150 places between them in the rankings, Anisimova has proven that means little so far in Indian Wells.

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