IW Thursday: Rematch Time
Published March 13, 2014 12:11
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The final two semifinal spots at the BNP Paribas Open will be decided on Thursday as Li Na meets Dominika Cibulkova in a rematch of this year's Australian Open final and then Sloane Stephens takes on Flavia Pennetta.
 Li Na (CHN #2) vs.  Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #11)
Head-to-head: Li leads 5-0
The draw in Indian Wells has presented Dominika Cibulkova with an early opportunity to exact revenge on her Australian Open final conqueror, Li Na. After acquitting herself well early on, Cibulkova was eventually swept away by a steam of winners in Melbourne, consigning her to a fifth straight defeat against the Chinese star.
In that run, Cibulkova has picked up just one set and she will need all facets of her game to be running like clockwork - as they were in an easier-than-expected victory over Petra Kvitova in the last round - if she is to stop the rot.
Aside from a marathon final game, Li was equally untroubled last time out, seeing off Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets to improve her win-loss record in 2014 to 16-1. Remarkably, Cibulkova - who was ranked No.24 when they met in January - will be the first Top 20 player Li has encountered this season and she will need to raise her game accordingly.
 Sloane Stephens (USA #18) vs.  Flavia Pennetta (ITA #21)
Head-to-head: Pennetta leads 2-1
The last quarterfinal pits the draw's youngest player, Sloane Stephens, against its oldest, Flavia Pennetta. Both players have looked sharp this fortnight, taking full advantage of the surprise exits of Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber to make the quarterfinals for the first time.
In the last round, Pennetta defused the power of her fellow Italian Camila Giorgi in impressive fashion, and more of the same will be required if she is to account for another of the game's bright young things.
Stephens is the first American to reach the last eight here since 2008 and if she seems to have ironed out the creases in her game that contributed to her struggles in Doha and Dubai. All three of the pair's previous meetings have come on clay, with the most recent, in Rome last spring, going Stephens' way in straight sets.
Find the listings for Thursday's play on the WTA TV developed by Xerox.