Angelique Kerber vs Victoria Azarenka, Miami SF Preview

Miami SF: (2) Angelique Kerber vs (13) Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster semi-final encounter at the Miami Open on Thursday night sees the two best players of the 2016 season collide when Angelique Kerber comes up against Victoria Azarenka. Kerber and Azarenka will number 1 and number 2 in the race to Singapore standings on Monday, confirming that these two have been the best players in the first couple of months of the year.

This will be the third meeting between Kerber and Azarenka in 2016. The Belarussian extended her head-to-head advantage over the German to 6-0 when she thumped Kerber 6-3 6-1 in the final of the Brisbane International in January. Kerber avenged that loss in stunning fashion, claiming a long-awaited first win over the Belarussian with a 6-3 7-5 quarter-final win on route to her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne. 

 

Angelique Kerber understandably struggled in her first couple of events after her success at the Australian Open, arriving in Miami with a 1-3 record win/loss record since her triumph in Melbourne. Things have looked better for Kerber in Miami as she has advanced to the semi-final stage of the event for the first time in her career. Kerber started the week with an emphatic win over Barbora Strycova before fighting hard for three set wins over Kiki Bertens and Timea Babos. Angie’s ticket to the semi-final was confirmed on Wednesday evening when the German recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over an erratic Madison Keys. Kerber will now get a chance to prove that her win over Azarenka in Melbourne was no fluke.

Victoria Azarenka has amassed an incredible 20-1 win/loss record in 2016. The Belarussian’s only loss of the season was her quarter-final defeat to Kerber at the Australian Open. Azarenka is on an 11 match winning streak as she looks to claim the Indian Wells/Miami double. As a result of her great start to the year, Azarenka will move back into the top 5 in the rankings on Monday. Azarenka has advanced to the semi-final stage in Miami without dropping a set, claiming straight set wins over Monica Puig, Magda Linette, Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta. The Belarussian has been close to her fierce best over the last couple of weeks and will enter her semi-final clash with Kerber desperate to avenge her defeat to the German at the Australian Open.

 

This promises to be a really close encounter, the majority of the 7 previous meetings between the pair have been just that despite Azarenka holding a dominant 6-1 head-to-head record over the German. Kerber’s win over Azarenka was extremely important and will give her a new sense of belief whenever she steps onto the court against the Belarussian. There really is very little to separate these two, both are heading into this clash full of confidence and with a point to prove.

I’m going to side with Kerber in this clash. This is Kerber’s first ‘big’ match since her Australian Open triumph and is a good opportunity for her to regain the stunning form that she her claim her first Grand Slam title.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets

Victoria Azarenka vs Johanna Konta, Miami QF Preview

Miami QF: (13) Victoria Azarenka vs (24) Johanna Konta

Victoria Azarenka’s dominance has continued at the Miami Open, the former champion has won 19 of her 20 matches in 2016, claiming titles in Brisbane and in Indian Wells just last week. The Belarussian is starting to look more and more like the player that dominated the tour for large chunks of season 2012 and 2013 and is rapidly rising back up the rankings. Azarenka’s quest for a second Miami Open title will continue on Wednesday when she comes up against Johanna Konta at the quarter-final stage of the premier mandatory level event. 

Victoria Azarenka heads into the quarter-final stage of the Miami Open as the favourite to win the title after Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska both suffered shock losses at the fourth round stage on Monday. Azarenka remained strong on a day of upsets, recording a solid 7-6 7-6 victory over Garbine Muguruza in what was arguably the highest quality match of the tournament thus far. There was generally very little to separate the pair throughout the match but Azarenka was clearly braver and more solid in the crucial moments in each tiebreak, particularly in the first set tiebreaker where the Belarussian saved 2 set points. It was clearly Azarenka’s toughest match of the event thus far after she started her week with comfortable straight set wins over Monica Puig and Magda Linette. Azarenka is full of confidence right now and will be extremely tough to stop in Miami.

 

Johanna Konta has also made a wonderful start to the season and will also enter this quarter-final clash full of confidence. The British number 1 started her Miami Open campaign with a comfortable straight set win over Danka Kovinic before being made to work extremely hard for a 4-6 6-1 7-6 win over Elena Vesnina, a match that Konta probably would have lost in the past. Konta was in trouble late in that match but showed great strength to find a way to reverse the momentum that was clearly against her and ultimately find a way to win. The Brit’s fourth round win was far more straightforward, a commanding 6-2 6-2 win over Monica Niculescu. Konta’s quarter-final clash with Azarenka will no doubt be her biggest test of the tournament thus far.

These two have not played out a completed match which adds a little more intrigue heading into this clash. Azarenka seemingly has a clear edge in this match-up, Konta has a very solid game and good serve but she doesn’t really have the ability to hit Azarenka off the court, whilst Azarenka is far better defensively and has a far greater ability to come forward and finish the point off at the net. Azarenka is on a roll right now and I don’t see her slipping up in this match-up.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets


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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Timea Bacsinszky, Miami R4 Preview

Miami R4: (2) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (19) Timea Bacsinszky

An interesting fourth round clash at the Miami Open sees an in form Aga Radwanska come up against a resurgent Timea Bacsinszky. Radwanska and Bacsinszky both rely on their variety and defensive skills to disrupt their opponents meaning this is likely to be a long, tough match between two like-minded players. Interestingly, it was Bacsinszky who smashed Radwanska 6-1 6-1 in their only previous clash during the Fed Cup early last year.

 

Aga has continued her impressive start to the season at the Miami Open. The former champion has hardly put a foot wrong in her opening two matches at the event, conceding a total of 6 games on route to recording straight set wins over Alize Cornet and Madison Brengle. Radwanska continues to adopt a more aggressive mindset, coming forward to the net whenever there is a slight opportunity and even serve and volleying on a couple of occasions in her opening round matches. An aggressive mindset will be important heading into Aga’s fourth round clash with Bacsinszky, an opponent that defends very well but can also be dangerous when allowed to dictate play.

Timea Bacsinszky is finally starting to find her range after a difficult start to the season. Timea failed to win back-to-back matches in her first three events of the season but has now won consecutive matches in her last three events. Timea has progressed to the fourth round in Miami without dropping a set, recording impressive straight set wins over two quality opponents: Margarita Gasparyan and Ana Ivanovic. Bacsinszky will be confident heading into her fourth round clash with Radwanska given her dominant win over the Pole in their only previous encounter.

 

Bacsinszky stunned Radwanska in their only previous meeting, picking up an emphatic 6-1 6-1 win in a crucial Fed Cup tie early last season. Radwanska played really poorly in that match whilst Bacsinszky did little wrong. Radwanska’s form is dramatically improved heading into this clash and a very different scoreline is to be expected on this occasion.

There is no real reason to suggest that this will not be an extremely close match. These two play quite similarly. but Radwanska certainly has a few more strings to her bow. Aga is more comfortable coming forward to the net (which is generally important in a match-up like this) and is also generally a little more solid from the baseline. Timea has looked much better in the last couple of weeks but Aga’s recent form has been great and I suspect she will find a way to get the win here.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in 3 sets


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Garbine Muguruza vs Dominika Cibulkova, Miami R2 Preview

Miami R2: (4) Garbine Muguruza vs Dominika Cibulkova

Friday’s most intriguing second round clash at the Miami Open sees the fourth seeded Garbine Muguruza come up against the always dangerous Dominika Cibulkova. This is a brutal early round draw for both players, it guarantees one of these two will be making an earlier than expected exit from the tournament. Interestingly, Muguruza has won the only two previous matches between the pair, however recent form suggests that Cibulkova has a good chance to record her first ever victory over the Spaniard in this match.

Garbine Muguruza continues to struggle in 2016. The Spaniard has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season in the early months. Garbine has not recorded any notable victories in 2016 but has suffered a couple of embarrassing losses. One of those embarrassing losses was a 5-7 1-6 first round defeat at the hands of Christina McHale at the BNP Paribas Open last week. Garbine showed no fight in the second set of that match and pretty much admitted to giving up on the match early in the second set to her coach. If Muguruza doesn’t change her attitude and reverse her current form slump, she will quickly slide down the rankings. Another couple of early round exits could see the Spaniard’s season spiral out of control, perhaps in Eugenie Bouchard 2015 type fashion. 

 

Conversely, Dominika Cibulkova’s form has been gradually improving in 2016 and her attitude and determination can never be questioned. The Slovakian arrived in Miami fresh off a brutal second round loss to Aga Radwanska at the BNP Paribas Open, Dominika held a 5-2 lead in the deciding set but would ultimately lose 5 straight games, falling agonisingly short of recording a very significant win. Nevertheless, there were still many positives to take from that match, it is clear that Dominika is moving in the right direction. The Slovakian made a winning start in Miami on Wednesday, recording a 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson. Dominika recovered well after a shaky start, ultimately she was too good when it mattered most. Dominika will see her clash with Muguruza as a good opportunity to claim her first big scalp of the year. 

Garbine Muguruza has won the only two previous matches between the pair, including a 6-2 4-6 6-2 win in Stanford in 2014 in what was their most recent match. I suspect we will see a very different scoreline on this occasion given the recent form of the two, Cibulkova’s recent form has been far more impressive and she seems to be playing with far more confidence and determination than Muguruza is right now. We know what we will get from Cibulkova but the same can’t be said about Muguruza in her current mood/form. Dominika could win this match quite comfortably if Garbine doesn’t produce a significantly improved performance than the one she produced in her previous event.

Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets


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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alize Cornet, Miami R2 Preview

Miami Open R2: (2) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alize Cornet

Former champion Agnieszka Radwanska will begin her 2016 Miami Open campaign with a potentially tough second round clash with Alize Cornet. Radwanska and Cornet arrived in Miami with contrasting form and preparation, Radwanska has been one of the most consistent players in recent months whilst Alize Cornet is playing in her first tournament since the Australian Open after spending almost 2 months on the sidelines due to injury. Nevertheless, these two always have very competitive matches and this will probably be no different.

 

Aga Radwanska is back up to a career high ranking of world number 2 after a supremely consistent last 6 months of tennis. The Pole has reached at least the semi-final stage in 7 of her last 8 events and went on to win the title in 3 of those events. Aga seems to be playing with more confidence than ever and will be extra confident at this event given she is a former champion at the Miami Open. Radwanska played some impressive tennis last week in Indian Wells, showing encouraging signs in her semi-final defeat to Serena Williams. Despite losing that semi-final in straight sets 4-6 6-7, it was arguably the best Aga has ever looked against Serena, hitting with greater depth and pace than any of their previous matches. Aga will be hoping for another deep run over the next couple of week at the Miami Open and there is little to suggest that she will not be able to achieve that.

Alize Cornet surprised many when she announced that she would be taking part in the Miami Open given previous reports suggested that she may be sidelined from the tour for many months. Alize has shown great fighting spirit and determination throughout her career, her quick recovery from a potentially serious injury is just another example of this. Alize made a winning start to her comeback courtesy of a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 victory over Galina Voskoboeva, a typically gutsy win. The Frenchwoman will face a much tougher task in her second round clash when she comes up against an in form Agnieszka Radwanska, an opponent Alize has defeated on just 1 previous occasion at tour level.

 

Radwanska holds a seemingly commanding 6-1 head-to-head record over Alize Cornet, however the head-to-head series is much close than that would suggest given all of their previous matches have been close, usually long matches. Radwanska won the most recent clash between the pair, a 6-4 6-2 win in New Haven last year. These two play a very similar game, both are crafty players that are primarily great defenders and give very little free points away, often resulting in a close match with many long rallies.

Radwanska clearly has the edge heading into this match given her far superior preparation for this event. Cornet has been sidelined due to injury for a couple of months and will find it very hard to compete at a high level for long enough to really trouble an in form Agnieszka Radwanska. I suspect Aga will be too good for Alize on this occasion but it will not be an easy match as Alize will never go down without a fight. 

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Alize Cornet in 2 sets


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Eugenie Bouchard vs Lucie Hradecka, Miami R1 Preview

Miami R1: Eugenie Bouchard vs Lucie Hradecka

Eugenie Bouchard will begin her Miami Open campaign on Wednesday with a first round clash with Lucie Hradecka. Bouchard has made a very positive start to the season, the Canadian certainly seems to have put her 2015 season form slump behind her as the future once against looks very bright for Genie. Bouchard will be a strong favourite heading into this first round clash but Hradecka is capable of causing Bouchard some problems and actually leads their head-to-head series 2-1.

Eugenie Bouchard’s level has steadily improved in season 2016 after a horror ending to 2015, however there is still a way to go before the Canadian reaches the level that saw her crack into the top 5 in 2014. Bouchard arrives in Miami fresh off a decent couple of weeks of tennis, reaching the final in Kuala Lumpur before defeating Sloane Stephens on route to the third round appearance at the BNP Paribas Open where Genie would ultimately succumb to Timea Bacsinszky in a three set clash. Interestingly, Bouchard has only ever won 1 match at the Miami Open, and will have minimal points to defend after a first up loss to Tatjana Maria in Miami last year. A good opportunity for Bouchard to continue to build her ranking as she looks to mover back towards the top 10. 

 

Lucie Hradecka finally recorded her first main draw victory of 2016 last week at the BNP Paribas Open, recording a very nervy three set win over Alison Riske. However, the Czech’s run didn’t last long as she was eliminated by Ekaterina Makarova courtesy of a straight set defeat in the second round. Hradecka has also struggled in Miami in recent years, Lucie has not won a main draw match at the event since 2011.

Surprisingly, Lucie Hradecka holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Bouchard, but Lucie’s two victories came in 2012 before Bouchard’s rise. The Canadian won the only relevant previous match between the pair, a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win in Indian Wells last year. I suspect this will be another relatively comfortable win for Genie given her recent stable form and Lucie’s recent woes. There are no strong reasons to suggest this match will result in an upset. Bouchard should be too good. 

Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Lucie Hradecka in 2 sets


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Yulia Putintseva vs Nicole Gibbs, Miami R1 Preview

Miami R1: Yulia Putintseva vs (wc) Nicole Gibbs

Main draw action at the Miami Open begins on Tuesday, arguably the most intriguing encounter of the day sees Yulia Putintseva come up against Nicole Gibbs. Yulia and Nicole have both made positive starts to the season, arguably the strongest start to a season for both ladies. This will be the first ever encounter between the pair and promises to be an exciting clash between two confident, in form players.

Yulia Putintseva has been refreshingly focused and consistent over the last couple of months ever since her significant victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the first round at the Australian Open. Yulia hasn’t done much wrong in season 2016, it has generally taken a top opponent to defeat the Kazakh. Yulia arrives in Miami after a good week at BNP Paribas Open where she recorded straight set wins over Shuai Peng and Kristina Mladenovic before being defeated by Serena Williams 6-7 0-6. Yulia really pushed Serena, particularly in the first set where the Kazakh served for the set on two occasions but was ultimately no match for Serena’s best. Yulia will be hoping for another good event to keep building on the positive momentum she has created in last couple of months. 

 

Nicole Gibbs also arrives in Miami full of confidence after a great week at the BNP Paribas Open. The American came through the qualifying draw to reach the fourth round, her best result at a premier mandatory event. Gibbs recorded straight set wins over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Keys and Yaroslava Shvedova before being defeated by Petra Kvitova in a tight three set match. Gibbs came through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals in Monterrey in the week prior to Indian Wells, clearly the American is in good form, probably the best form of her career.

Yulia and Nicole look pretty evenly matched on paper, however I do believe Yulia should have the slight edge in this match-up. Both players are primarily good defensive players and are rarely the aggressor in a match, both are great movers and give very little away. The difference could be that Yulia has more variety in her game, playing with different spins and depth of shots. The slower, heavy conditions in Miami should favour Yulia. This will be a different test for Gibbs, she has relied on her opponents hitting a lot of unforced errors in most of her wins in recent events, that will not happen here, she will need to hit through Yulia. 

Prediction: Yulia Putintseva to defeat Nicole Gibbs in 3 sets


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Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka, Indian Wells Final Preview

Indian Wells Final: (1) Serena Williams vs (13) Victoria Azarenka

Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final will be a blockbuster encounter between two former champions at the event: Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. This will be the first match between the pair in 2016, Serena was pushed to a third set by Azarenka in all three of their matches in 2015 and probably remains the American’s biggest threat on tour at the moment and moving forward over the next couple of seasons. This will be a special occasion for Serena Williams, being back in the final at Indian Wells for the first time since that infamous 2001 final. Whilst Azarenka is into her first major final for a couple of years and will be pumped up for this occasion.

 

Serena Williams has generally been in impressive form on route to the final at the BNP Paribas Open, the American has not dropped a set and is looking as strong and aggressive as ever. Serena recorded convincing straight set wins over Laura Siegemund, Yulia Putintseva and Kateryna Bondarenko before stepping up her game to record two more straight set victories over fellow top 5 players Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska. Serena’s 6-4 7-6 semi-final win over Radwanska was a strange one, Serena started the match really poorly as she was uncharacteristically showing no emotion and seemed disinterested. However, Serena was clearly too good for Aga when it mattered most in both of the sets, Serena eventually got fired up in the second set and played some sublime, aggressive tennis in the second set tiebreak to book her spot in Sunday’s final.

Victoria Azarenka has also shown some impressive form on route to the final at the BNP Paribas Open. The Belarusian has still lost just one match in 2016 (A loss to Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open, Serena’s only loss this year was also against Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open). Azarenka started the event with routine wins over Zarina Diyas and Shuai Zhang before being forced to work much harder for a 3 set win over Sam Stosur. Azarenka thumped Magdalena Rybarikova 6-0 6-0 in the quarter-finals before overcoming her toughest challenge of the event in a three set win over Karolina Pliskova. Azarenka booked her spot in the final with a 7-6 1-6 6-2 win over the Czech. Azarenka looked very solid from the baseline, however her serve was an issue, ending the match with 10 double faults. Azarenka will need to serve much better on Sunday if she is to record a rare victory over Serena.

 

Serena Williams holds a commanding 17-3 head-to-head record over Victoria Azarenka, however, despite the lopsided head-to-head record it is possible to make a case for Azarenka being Serena’s greatest rival over the last couple of years. Azarenka has pushed Serena to a third set in 5 of their last 6 matches including all 3 of their matches in 2015. The Belarussian actually held leads for lengthy periods in each of their matches last year and squandered 3 match points in their first match of the year in Madrid. Their most recent clash was at Wimbledon last year, Serena won that match 3-6 6-2 6-3, on of the matches of the season. 

This is an extremely important final for both ladies. Serena will be desperate to claim her first Indian Wells title since 2001 in her second appearance at the event since that year. Serena will not want to drop another final after her recent losses at the business end of Grand Slams. Whilst, Victoria Azarenka will be pumped up to be in her first final at a major event for years. I suspect Serena will make a statement in this match and win quite comfortably. Serena’s level this year has generally been very high and she will be primed for this final. Azarenka’s serve is likely to be a big problem in this match-up, whilst Serena is also capable of overpowering the Belarusian from the baseline. Serena must be wary of Azarenka after their matches in 2016 and will come out firing here. Serena for the win.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 2 sets


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Victoria Azarenka vs Karolina Pliskova, Indian Wells SF Preview

Indian Wells SF #2: (13) Victoria Azarenka vs (18) Karolina Pliskova

Victoria Azarenka continues her quest for a second Indian Wells title on Friday night where she will come up against Karolina Pliskova at the semi-final stage of the BNP Paribas Open. This will be the first encounter between the pair since last year’s epic match at the Brisbane International, Pliskova claimed a memorable three set victory in a match that lasted over three hours on that occasion. This promises to be another close, exciting encounter between Azarenka and Pliskova.

 

Victoria Azarenka’s 2016 season form has generally been quite impressive, amassing a 15-1 win/loss record. The Belarusian has looked good in the Californian desert, dropping just 1 set on route to the semi-final stage. Azarenka opened her Indian Wells campaign with reasonably comfortable straight set wins over Zarina Diyas and Shuai Zhang before being pushed to a third set by Sam Stosur, Azarenka played very strong tennis in the deciding set to claim a 6-1 4-6 6-1 victory over the Australian. Azarenka’s quarter-final victory was an emphatic one, a crushing 6-0 6-0 win over a somewhat injury-hampered Magdalena Rybarikova. Azarenka will face a much, much tougher test against Pliskova Pliskova on Friday evening. 

Karolina Pliskova is having the best couple of weeks of her season thus far. The Czech has gradually improved throughout the event and seems to be well positioned heading into her semi-final clash with Azarenka. Pliskova recorded comfortable straight set wins over Shelby Rogers and Ana Ivanovic in her first two matches of the week before producing a gutsy performance to get past Johanna Konta in three sets. Karolina saved her most impressive performance of the event thus far for the quarter-final stage where she thumped Daria Kasatkina, claiming a 6-3 6-2 victory over the Russian rising star. Pliskova barely put a foot wrong in that match, serving extremely well and striking the ball with real venom from the baseline. If Pliskova can produce a similar level on Friday night, she may well be too powerful for Azarenka. Pliskova is also into the final in the doubles draw alongside Julia Goerges.
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The head-to-head record between Azarenka and Pliskova is split at 1 win apiece. It was Pliskova who won their only recent match, an extremely hard-fought 4-6 7-6 6-4 victory at the Brisbane International in the first event of 2015. Pliskova proved in that match that she has the game to trouble Azarenka, a times there wasn’t much Azarenka could do to stop the Czech. It will be interesting to see how different Friday’s match is. 

This is fascinating match-up, because these two have very different strengths and weaknesses. Pliskova obviously has the better serve but Azarenka has a better return of serve. Azarenka is the better mover from the back of the court and is more consistent but Pliskova probably has more firepower from the baseline This match will be played late at night, meaning the conditions will be quite slow, it is tough to know who that will favour in this match-up. I think this is going to be a close match and could go either way but I’m siding with Pliskova who can take care of business her if she serves well and makes the most of her opportunities on Azarenka’s relatively weak serve and plays without fear.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets


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Serena Williams vs Agnieszka Radwanska, Indian Wells SF Preview

Indian Wells SF #1: (1) Serena Williams vs (3) Agnieszka Radwanska

Serena Williams and Aga Radwanska will renew hostilities when they meet at the semi-final stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday evening. Serena Williams has raced through the draw without dropping a set and will be the overwhelming favourite heading into this semi-final clash given her absolutely dominant 9-0 head-to-head record over the Pole. Radwanska’s recent form is also impressive, the soon to be world number 2 will feel like she has a chance of causing a gigantic upset heading into this clash but will need to produce the match of her life to stand a chance.

 

Serena Williams had looked good in her first tournament since her shock loss in the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber. The American has stormed through the draw without dropping a set, and rarely looking like dropping a set. The world number 1 recorded relatively routine straight set wins over Laura Siegemund, Yulia Putintseva and Kateryna Bondarenko to kick-start her campaign for a first Indian Wells title since 2001. It was at the quarter-final stage that we saw that Serena really is the player to beat, the world number 1 crushed defending champion Simona Halep 6-4 6-2 in an emphatic performance.

Aga Radwanska’s consistent season has continued at Indian Wells, the Pole is now into her 7th consecutive semi-final at a WTA event, amassing a 29-5 win/loss record in her last 7 events including 3 titles. As a result of this great consistency, Aga will become the new world number 2 when the rankings are next updated. Aga could have easily exited the BNP Paribas Open in her very first match of the week, the Pole was forced to come from 2-5 down in the final set against Dominika Cibulkova, saving a match point in the process to claim an important 6-3 3-6 7-5 victory. Aga has been relatively untroubled since that match, recording straight set victories over Monica Niculescu, Jelena Jankovic and Petra Kvitova, barely putting a foot wrong in any of those matches. Nevertheless, Aga will need to elevate her game to a whole new level if she is to record her first victory over Serena Williams.

 

This match-up has always been a troublesome one for Radwanska. Serena has won all 9 of the previous matches between the pair and has only ever dropped 1 set against Aga which was at the Wimbledon final in 2012. The pair met earlier this year at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open, Serena absolutely crushed Aga in the first set before overcoming a slight wobble to win 6-4 6-0. This is obviously a good match-up for Serena and she will be determined to continue that dominance with the title within touching distance at the BNP Paribas Open.

It’s hard to make a case for Radwanska to win this match, or even to win a set. Serena has looked very good on route to this stage and has dominated the Pole in recent time. The fact that this match will be played at night makes this even tougher for Radwanska. The conditions will heavily favour Serena, the slower conditions will mean Serena will be able to dictate pretty much every point. Everything points to a crushing win for Serena.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska in 2 sets


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