Second-round action begins on Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. We take a look at the compelling matchups right here at WTATennis.com.
Friday, Second round
At the Aegon Open last June Monica Puig was only able to win one point against Karolina Pliskova's vaunted first serve. The Puerto Rican is hoping that a change of scenery from Nottingham to Indian Wells will help her cause, but after her straight-sets win over American wildcard Danielle Collins on Wednesday, the Olympic champion knows a significant challenge awaits. "She's near the top of the game right now because she's an amazing player," she said. Though she has struggled with Pliskova in the past, Puig is a more confident athlete after her breakthrough at the Olympic tennis event last year. She's been solid this year, reaching a semifinal at the Qatar Total Open and a quarterfinal at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel last week. But Pliskova has been even more impressive, winning two titles and racking up a 15-2 record thus far on the season. Stopping the forward progress of one of the tour's most powerful players will be a tall task for Puig, but if she gets on the attack early and often she just might have a shot.
Pick: Pliskova in two
Things have not gone as planned for Spain's top player in Southern California in recent years. After a surprise trip to the BNP Paribas Open round of 16 as a qualifier in 2013, Muguruza has only managed one more win here. Last year after a disappointing effort she was bounced out of the draw in her first match by American Christina McHale. This year she'll look to get on track against crafty Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, a player that has defeated Muguruza in two of their four previous meetings.
Two out of four sounds good, but both of Flipkens' wins over the Spaniard have come on grass - can she solve the Muguruza riddle on a hardcourt? Flipkens battled back from a set down to defeat 17-year-old American CiCi Bellis on Wednesday but she'll face a much tougher challenge from Muguruza, who is aching to put her desert demons behind her with a solid performance in 2017.
Pick: Muguruza in two
Playing at her career-high ranking of No.5, Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova will look to snap a two-match losing streak and get back to her winning ways at Indian Wells. A quarterfinalist here in 2014, Cibulkova was the victim of a tough draw in 2016 when she fell to Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets in the second round last year. Cibulkova was outside the Top 50 at that point after missing much of the first half of 2015 due to injury, but once healthy, the Slovakian hit top form and embarked on a magical streak that saw her finish 2016 with a career-high 55 wins and a title at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Cibulkova defeated Ostapenko during her run to the Eastbourne title last year, but she'll have to be careful about the 19-year-old Latvian. Though inconsistent, the fiery Ostapenko is capable of playing breathtaking tennis when she's on song.
Pick: Cibulkova in two
Two compatriots headed in different directions rankings-wise will lock horns for the second time on Friday, with Heather Watson hoping to get her career back on track and Johanna Konta looking to maintain her steady rise up the rankings. Konta became one of the breakout stories of 2016 when she reached the Australian Open semifinal and claimed a spot in the Top 10, while Watson has struggled to string wins together, even at the qualifier level.
Konta has been out since reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals due to a foot injury, so Watson might benefit from good health and having a win under her belt already at Indian Wells. She battled back from a set down to defeat Nicole Gibbs on Wednesday and could present a stiff challenge for Konta as the World No.11 makes her return.
The youngest player in this year's draw is 17-year-old American Kayla Day. The Santa Barbara, California native will take on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni on Friday. Lucic-Baroni more than doubles the age of Day - the Croatian turned 35 on Thursday.
Like slice-and-dice, craft and guile? Then the battle between No.15-seeded Timea Bacsinszky and Romania's Monica Niculescu could be for you. Both players employ unorthodox techniques to produce some of the most clever shot-making on tour.