Indian Wells R4: (5) Simona Halep vs Barbora Strycova
Simona Halep will continue her title defense at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday when she comes up against Barbora Strycova in a potentially dangerous fourth round clash. Simona made a really poor start to the season but seems to be finding her range in Indian Wells, arguably playing at the highest level of the season thus far. Barbora Strycova also heads into this match in good form and will be a tricky opponent in tough conditions.
Simona Halep arrived in Indian Wells on the back of 2 poor first round losses in her previous events and with a question mark surrounding her health and fitness. However, the Romanian seems to be reversing her form slump and seems to be in the best position she has been in physically all year. Halep started her title defense at the BNP Paribas Open with a crushing 6-1 6-1 win over Vania King before recording a confidence boosting 6-2 6-4 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. Halep’s straight set win over Makarova was probably her best performance of the season thus far, a very clean match by the Romanian.
Barbora Strycova’s progression into the fourth round has been far tougher than Halep’s. The Czech’s first round victory was a comfortable 6-1 6-3 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Strycova was then forced to come from a set down in her victories over Andrea Petkovic and Kurumi Nara. Strycova’s 5-7 6-4 7-5 win over Petkovic was a notable one, Strycova looked down and out on multiple occasions during that match but kept her cool and eventually found a way to come through a very tough match. It was a similar story in Strycova’s 3-6 6-1 6-2 win over Nara, ultimately Strycova had too much variety for her opponent.
Halep and Strycova have met on just 1 occasion in recent years, Simona Halep recorded a 6-1 6-4 win in Beijing back in 2014. This is an interesting match-up and promises to be an extremely close, hard-fought match between two players that usually give very little away. I’m giving the slight edge to Halep on this occasion, I think the court conditions in Indian Wells suit Halep in this match-up given she will have more time on the ball and will be harder to disrupt from the baseline. It will be a tough one but Simona should find a way through.