Indian Wells Tuesday: Battle For The Quarterfinals Kicks Off
Published March 14, 2017 12:12
Eight quarterfinal spots are on the line on Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open and we're previewing each sweet sixteen matchup right here at wtaennis.com.
Round of 16
Angelique Kerber had her back against the wall on Monday as she fell behind in-form Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 4-1 in the deciding set. Was Kerber going to fall prey to the upset bug again? No way. The German mounted an inspiring rally to head off Parmentier at the pass, clinching a satisfying 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 victory. What made the difference for Kerber? "I was starting to believe in myself again and trying to taking this challenge and trying to playing point by point and not thinking what has happened before," she told reporters. "Just going for it and trying to move in good, bring a lot of balls back, and going for it when I have the chance." It was enough to get by Parmentier, but Kerber will need to be even better when she faces Russia's Elena Vesnina for a spot in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Will she be up for the challenge? "I'm still in the tournament," she said. "That's what counts."
Pick: Kerber in three
Is promising Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic ready to take her game to the next level in 2017? It's starting to look that way. The 23-year-old knocked off No.4-seeded Simona Halep with a gritty display on Tuesday, saving 19 of 22 break points faced to improve to 3-1 lifetime against the Romanian. Mladenovic improves to 2-0 with the victory and 14-5 on the season. But she'll have to be careful with her next opponent, because American Lauren Davis is playing some of the best tennis of her career. She's 13-3 with a title in Auckland, and will certainly try to pull Mladenovic into another physical match. Will Mladenovic be up to the task or will it be the American who emerges as a surprise quarterfinalist?
Pick: Mladenovic in three
 Venus Williams (USA #13) vs. [Q] Peng Shuai (CHN #49)
Head-to-head: Williams leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Williams reached the quarterfinals as a qualifier at Indian Wells twenty years ago in 1997. It was her second main draw appearance here.
Another big event and another big surprise from 36-year-old Venus Williams. The American legend never ceases to amaze and wherever she goes there are legions of fans who are there to support her, just as they were two decades ago. She had the home crowd behind her today as she raced past Lucie Safarova, and she'll have them with her on Tuesday when she faces qualifier Peng Shuai. Williams has won two of three against Shuai, but it was the Chinese, an inspirational figure herself, who came out on top when they met in Beijing last fall.
Pick: Williams in three
She missed the first two months of the season to rehab from off-season wrist surgery, but for those who watched Madison Keys power through her first two matches at the BNP Paribas Open, it was hard to detect any lingering rust. Keys was in fab form on Monday when she sailed past Naomi Osaka on the strength of eight aces and four break points saved out of four. On Tuesday she'll come up against a much sterner test in Caroline Wozniacki. The three-time finalist and 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion walloped Katerina Siniakova in straight sets to improve to 29-9 lifetime at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Pick: Wozniacki in three
 Karolina Pliskova (CZE #3) vs.  Timea Bacsinszky (SUI #17)
Head-to-head: Bacsinszky leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Pliskova improved to 17-2 on the season with her third-round win over Irina-Camelia Begu.
Timea Bacsinszky is playing with house money after saving five match points to slip by Kiki Bertens in a three-hour and 22-minute marathon on Sunday. "She played her heart out," Bacsinszky said after outlasting Bertens to book her third consecutive trip to the BNP Paribas Open's round of 16. "I did too." Next up for the talented, unconventional Swiss will be another supreme power player, Karolina Pliskova. The World No.3 edged Irina-Camelia Begu to keep her run of fine form alive at Indian Wells and she will bid to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year. Contrasting styles will square off in a match that will depend on how well Pliskova can execute first strikes—and how cleverly Bacsinszky can combat them.
Pick: Pliskova in three
Elina Svitolina has been unstoppable since the Australian Open, winning titles in Tapei and Dubai, and she doesn't appear to have lost a step here in the desert. The Ukrainian has reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the second time in three years, but awaiting her is a formidable foe that has her eyes on the prize. Spain's Garbiñe Muguruza has dropped two straight matches to Svitolina and she'd like nothing more than to turn the tide in their rivalry by notching a critical win on Tuesday. That said, the Spaniard knows she'll be facing a player that becomes more dangerous with each passing season. "I think she's playing very good," Muguruza said. "She's going to be a very tough opponent. She just got to the Top 10 as well. That's a sign. It's going to be difficult."
Pick: Muguruza in three
 Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #5) vs.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS #21)
Head-to-head: Cibulkova leads, 5-2
Key Stat: Pavlyuchenkova already has two Top 10 wins this season, but is 0-1 vs. Cibulkova in 2017.
Dominika Cibulkova has proven why she is one of the WTA's ultimate warriors in her first two rounds. She scraped by Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in her first match and in an epic on Sunday night she battled from a set and break down to rally past Kristyna Pliskova, 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4). The Slovakian showed tons of grit to book her spot in the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the third time, but it comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched the brave, boisterous Cibulkova ply her trade on the tour over these last few seasons. "This win means a lot," she told WTA Insider on Sunday night. "I'm still processing that I won this match. I was down 1-4 after 15 minutes and I was feeling like this wasn't my day because it was so hard to play her." Cibulkova will need whatever energy she has left when she squares off with the powerful Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday. The Russian has not dropped a set in her first two rounds and will hope to stay hot and end a personal three-match losing streak against Cibulkova.
Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in two
 Caroline Garcia (FRA #25) vs.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #8)
Head-to-head: Kuznetsova leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Since reaching back-to-back BNP Paribas Open finals in 2007 and 2008, Kuznetsova has not reached the quarterfinals.
Svetlana Kuznetsova was one of the biggest comeback stories of the 2016 season. She broke the 40-win barrier for the first time since 2009, won two titles, upset World No.1 Serena Williams in Miami and climbed into the Top 10 for the first time since 2010. And, from the looks of things she hasn't skipped a beat in 2017. Since reaching back-to-back finals at Indian Wells in 2007 and 2008, Kuznetsova had failed to get back into the round of 16—until this year. Now she's gunning for the quarterfinals, but she'll have to get past the talented Caroline Garcia to get there. The No.21-seeded Frenchwoman has dropped two in a row to Kuznetsova, but she'll come in confident after pulling an upset on No.11-seeded Johanna Konta on Sunday.
Pick: Kuznetsova in three
By the Numbers:3-3 - Kerber's record in three-set matches this season. Last season it was 23-5.