??? BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R2 Preview
?? (10) Serena Williams vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka
A blockbuster showdown from the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night sees Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka go head-to-head for the first time in 2 years. This will be the first meeting between Williams and Azarenka since both became mothers, a special occasion between two great rivals of the modern era.
Williams has had a typically limited schedule in 2019. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has only played the one tour level event in 2019 where she reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. Serena’s Australian Open campaign ended unceremoniously when she squandered a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Karolina Pliskova, it will be interesting to see what type of level Williams can produce here given she has not played a competitive match for well over a month.
Azarenka has had a much busier schedule than Williams but has generally struggled to find her top level. The recent signs have been better for the two-time former Indian Wells champion, Azarenka arrived in the Californian desert fresh from a quarter-final showing in Acapulco and started her BNP Paribas Open campaign in style. Azarenka breezed through her opening round clash in Indian Wells, a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory over Vera Lapko to set up a showdown with Williams.
Williams holds a 17-4 head-to-head record over Azarenka, however their rivalry has been much, much more competitive than those numbers suggest. Azarenka frequently pushed Williams to her limits but often fell short in 3 sets. 4 of Serena’s last 5 wins over Azarenka required a third set. The most recent match between the pair took place in the 2016 Indian Wells final, Azarenka won that match 6-4 6-4.