Indian Wells R4: (2) Maria Sharapova vs (15) Flavia Pennetta
Flavia’s Pennetta’s title defense will come under threat on Tuesday afternoon when she comes up against second seed, Maria Sharapova at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia has kicked of her title defense in style with two commanding victories but will face a much tougher test when she comes up against an in form Maria Sharapova.
After defeating Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets in the second round, Maria reached the fourth round with a commanding 6-4 6-3 victory over arch rival, Victoria Azarenka. The difference in the end was Maria’s ability to sustain a high intensity for the whole match, whilst Azarenka was not quite ready to compete at such a high level.
Sharapova’s serve was wayward in the opening set, hitting five double faults in one game to hand Azarenka the first break of the match. Sharapova rallied to win 3 straight games and claim an extremely hard fought opening set. Azarenka seemed to lose her concentration in the second set and Sharapova capitalised to take a 5-1 lead. The Russian had trouble closing out the match as Vika played some unbelievable tennis, but eventually Maria got the job done on her sixth match point.
Despite making a poor start to the season, Flavia Pennetta has looked very confident in her title defense at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia kick-started her campaign with a comprehensive straight set victory over Madison Brengle before keeping her perfect record over Sam Stosur alive with a an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory.
The head to head record between Flavia and Maria is split at 2 wins apiece. Flavia Pennetta has won their two most recent encounters, however the two hasn’t played since 2011 so their head to head record is somewhat irrelevant. Flavia shocked Maria third round of the 2011 US Open with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory in their most recent meeting.
Sharapova has been in ominous form this year, it will take an almighty performance by the Italian to cause what would be a major upset despite the head to head record. I expect this to be a highly competitive match, Pennetta may even take a set off Maria but ultimately Maria should prevail.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 3 sets