BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells R1 Preview
?? Victoria Azarenka vs ?? Heather Watson
Victoria Azarenka will make her much anticipated return to the WTA tour with an opening round matchup against Britain’s Heather Watson at the BNP Paribas Open. Azarenka is a two-time former champion in Indian Wells having won the event in 2012 and 2016. The former world number 1 will be in action for the first time since Wimbledon last year after a lengthy custody battle kept her away from the game. It will be interesting to see what level the Belarusian can bring to the court in her return in what has historically been a good matchup for Azarenka.
Azarenka has a great record in Indian Wells, the gritty hard court surface really suits the Belarusian’s game. Azarenka has been preparing for her return for months, she is fit and ready to go. It would not be surprising to see Azarenka have a deep run at the BNP Paribas Open.
Heather Watson arrives at the BNP Paribas Open with 3 consecutive opening round losses to her name. Watson was in action last week in Acapulco where she was beaten in the opening round by Beatriz Haddad Maia in 3 sets, a match Watson would have expected to win. Prior to that Watson was beaten by Roberta Vinci in the opening round of qualifying at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and suffered a very disappointing opening round loss to Yulia Putintseva at the Australian Open. Watson’s results at Indian Wells have generally been modest, her best result was a run to the fourth round in 2015.
Azarenka holds a dominant 5-0 head-to-head record over Watson, on a hard court that record is 3-0, all 3 wins were in straight sets, most recently a 6-2 6-4 win at the Rogers Cup in 2014. The most recent match between the pair took place last year at Wimbledon, Azarenka won that match 3-6 6-1 6-4 in what a very competitive match.