(1) Serena Williams vs Monica Niculescu
Serena Williams will make her much anticipated return to the Californian desert on Friday evening when she takes Monica Niculescu in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. The world number one and two-time former champion will end a 14 year boycott of the event. Surprisingly, this will be the first career meeting between these two seasoned campaigners.
Serena Williams decision to return to Indian Wells was one of the biggest stories in the tennis world this year. The world number 1 revealing that she discovered ‘the true meaning of forgiveness,’ deciding that she is finally ready to return to the scene of her saddest memory on tour.
Serena Williams has not played a match since a Fed Cup victory in Argentina the week after she claimed her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Monica Niculescu set up a second round clash with the world number 1 by crushing Aleksandra Krunic 6-2 6-1 in her opening round match. The Romanian has made an extremely poor start to the season, winning just 1 match prior to this event.
The world number 1 will undoubtedly be extremely desperate to win the title, she has returned to California to prove a point and will not let anyone get in her way. It would be brave decision to bet against Serena over the next two weeks.
The contrast in styles between these two players couldn’t be greater. It will be intriguing to see how the Romanian’s slice forehand holds up against the almighty Serena Williams. It may take Serena a couple of games to find her rhythm, especially considering this is her first ever meeting with Niculescu. However a part from a potential slow start it’s hard to see Serena being troubled in this match-up.
Prediction: Serena WIlliams to defeat Monica Niculescu in 2 sets