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.