Indian Wells Sunday: Pliskova, Pliskova & The Svitolina Streak
Published March 12, 2017 12:10
Ukrainian Elina Svitolina will bid for her 15th straight win on Sunday, while both Pliskova sisters take the court as the top half of the draw contests its third-round matches. Chris Oddo previews all the action right here at wtatennis.com
 Karolina Pliskova (CZE #3) vs.  Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU #32)
Head-to-head: Begu leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Begu and Pliskova have not met since 2011, when Begu defeated Pliskova in three sets at Tokyo.
Sometimes you shine on the big stage, sometimes you simply survive. It was definitely the latter for No.3-seeded Karolina Pliskova on Friday at Indian Wells as the Czech was pushed to the limit by Monica Puig in a tense night session scuffle. Pliskova was broken six times and repeatedly saw her second serve attacked by Puig, yet somehow the 24-year-old was able to stay the course and gut out a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory. "It was far from what my plan was to play, and how my game should be," she told WTA Insider after the match. "I don't think I deserved to win tonight, but it happened."
Next up for Pliskova, who is defending semifinal points here in the desert, will be Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu. The No.29 seed blasted past American Louisa Chirico despite only serving 43 percent. The victory was a much-needed one for Begu—she entered Indian Wells on a five-match losing streak.
Pick: Pliskova in two
Garbiñe Muguruza hit the ground running with a very strong straight-sets win over Kirsten Flipkens in Friday. On Sunday in the desert she'll look to spoil the weekend of the youngest player in the tournament, 17-year-old American Kayla Day. The Santa Barbara native thrilled the crowds on Stadium 2 when she knocked off Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in three tight sets on Friday. Her task will be taller on Sunday when she faces last year's Roland Garros champion. "I mean, she's such a great player," Day said. "I'm really excited to go out there and play her, one of the greatest in the game right now, so it should be really fun and a great experience for me."
Muguruza admitted she doesn't know a lot about the young southpaw, but seems confident nevertheless. "I heard she won the US Open Junior Championship," she said. "Well, that's a big thing, obviously. Honestly it's all about my game.">
Pick: Muguruza in two
Elina Svitolina hasn't lost since the Australian Open, and as the wins pile up the confidence grows. The World No.10 has notched a win over a World No.1 and nabbed two titles over the last month and a half, and on Saturday she'll look to push her winning streak to 15 when she faces Australia's Daria Gavrilova for the sixth time. The No.24 seed snapped a three-match losing streak on Friday when she took out Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets. Could Gavrilova be the one to end Svitolina's run? The Aussie is no stranger at racking up Top 10 wins—she already has seven—and she does own two victories in five matches against Svitolina. The Ukrainian comes in with the hot hand but we expect Gavrilova to push for the victory, and if it goes three sets we could see a classic. Gavrilova is 3-0 in deciders this season and Svitolina is 6-1.
Pick: Svitolina in three
Is Kristyna Pliskova, the younger sister of World No.3 Karolina, finally emerging as a force on the WTA? Anybody who watched her dismantle No.33-seeded Daria Kasatkina on Friday knows that she certainly has the potential to go a lot higher in the rankings and maybe even all the way into the Top 10 with her sister. Was she surprised about how easily she was able to get by Kasatkina? "Not really because I know how I can play and this wasn't even my best," she told WTA Insider on Friday. "So I'm not that surprised. Of course, I'm happy because it was easy, by the score at least."
With confidence brewing, Pliskova will look to tackle the lion-hearted Dominika Cibulkova for a spot in the round of 16. The No.5-seeded Slovakian was made to work by Jelena Ostapenko on Friday but came through in three sets on the strength of a late push. If Pliskova does indeed plan on rising up the rankings, Cibulkova is the type of opponent that she'll have to learn to deal with. The Czech has never faced another Top 5 player—until now.
Pick: Cibulkova in three
By the Numbers:
17 - The age of Kayla Day. The youngest player in the draw will not turn 18 until after the U.S. Open.
146 - Karolina Pliskova's ace count in 16 matches after pouring in another six against Monica Puig on Day 3.
34-6 - Cibulkova's record against players ranked outside of the Top 50 since the beginning of 2016 (including Fed Cup).
84.1 - Johanna Konta entered Indian Wells on top of the WTA leaderboard in service games won. She was broken three times in ten service games against Heather Watson in her first match.
- Photos courtesy of Getty Images