Tuesday, 5 March 2013

WTA Indian Wells: Preview and Predictions

There is a lot to discuss for the first Premier Mandatory draw in Indian Wells.  Let's take a look at the draw where the top 32 players all have a bye into the second round...

FIRST QUARTER - V.Azarenka (1) v C.Wozniacki (8)
Caroline Wozniacki
Victoria Azarenka remains unbeaten on the WTA tour in 2013 and will be looking to defend her Indian Wells crown where she produced some flawless tennis last year.  Azarenka will open her campaign against Daniela Hantuchova or a qualifier; Hantuchova has a superb record at Indian Wells having won the title twice and also holds a positive head-to-head record with Azarenka.  Kirsten Flipkens is Azarenka's projected third round opponent, but she may have to get past Monica Niculescu, who won her first WTA title in Florianopolis last week.  An Australian Open semi-final rematch with Sloane Stephens could then be on the cards for Azarenka in the round of 16.  Sloane struggled to deal with the increased pressure on her shoulder during Doha and Dubai, but I think she can salvage things in Indian Wells.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Hampton are two names to watch out for in this first section and they play each other in the first round.

I have been waiting ages to see an Azarenka/Wozniacki match, but whenver the opportunity pops up, one of them, normally Wozniacki, gets knocked out.  Wozniacki's first seeded opponent is likely to be Elena Vesnina and the quality will ramp up further in the fourth round where a trio of big hitters will be vying for that spot.  Nadia Petrova and Julia Goerges are seeded to meet in the third round, but Goerges could meet the young Brit, Laura Robson in the second round.  Robson was terrible in Doha and Dubai, but later revealed she had been suffering from a chest infection, which had been troubling her since the Olympics last year.  Now fully fit, I think she could spring a surprise or two in Indian Wells...

1st Round Predictions - Hampton to beat Mattek-Sands in 3 sets, U.Radwanska to beat Rus in 2 sets and Robson to beat Arvidsson in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Azarenka/Petrova

SECOND QUARTER - A.Kerber (4) v S.Stosur (7)
Ekaterina Makarova
If there is any chance of a surprise semi-finalist, it is likely to come from the second quarter, which is spearheaded by the struggling, Angelique Kerber.  The German player lost both her matches in the Middle East as she appeared to struggle with a back injury that made her second serve even limper than we are used too.  Her opening match will be against Irina-Camelia Begu or Heather Watson, and her first seed is projected to be Yanina Wickmayer.  Kerber could meet her Australian Open conqueror, Ekaterina Makarova in a round of 16 rematch.  In all truth, Makarova has a stunning draw here and she could be the one to sweep up.  She has Lucie Safarova in her section, who was in truly dire form in Dubai as she struggled to find the court throughout the entirety of her first round match with Caroline Wozniacki.

Sam Stosur will meet an American in the second round; either Madison Keys or Melanie Oudin.  Keys has turned some heads this year with a string of impressive performances down under.  I like her form and where she is progressing, but I think she will struggle to defeat Stosur if she gets through round one.  The pick of the third round matches could see Ana Ivanovic take on Mona Barthel.  Ivanovic has a good record in Indian Wells and made the semi-finals here last year, but if Barthel can get past another hot prospect in round two, Annika Beck or Kiki Bertens, then I think the German will record her second win over Ivanovic.  Also watch out for Alexandra Dulgheru, who is making her comeback on the main tour after missing the majority of 2012.

1st Round Predictions - Watson to beat Begu in 3 sets, Townsend to beat Hradecka in 2 sets, Bertens to beat Beck in 3 sets and Keys to beat Oudin in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Makarova/Barthel

THIRD QUARTER - P.Kvitova (5) v A.Radwanska (3)
Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova relaunched her year in Doha and Dubai, taking the title in the latter, but she has never done well at Indian Wells before and always struggles with the heat.  Thankfully for her, she should not be troubled too much in the opening rounds as she will play Olga Govortsova or Mandy Minella in her first match.  Her first seed could be Yaroslava Shvedova, who is on a horrendous run of form and has lost every three set match she has played since last June.  Dominika Cibulkova, who thrashed Kvitova in Sydney, will be a worrying opponent in round four, but since making the final in the same tournament where she was double bagelled by Agnieszka Radwanska, her form has completely deserted her.  I fancy upsets in this section and like the chances of Marina Erakovic and young American, Lauren Davis, who won an ITF event in Midland last month.

Agnieszka Radwanska was hot down under until she met a big hitter in form at the Australian Open and since then, it has been business as usual for world number four as she continues to struggle against the more powerful players on tour.  She lost to Kvitova in Dubai and could meet the Czech player once again in the quarter-finals.  Radwanska is projected to meet Sorana Cirstea in round three and Maria Kirilenko in round four.  There is not much going on in this section with an interesting first round match between Tsvetana Pironkova and Christina McHale about it for any kind of talking point.  The highest seeds, Radwanska and Kirilenko should both make the last 16 without any problems.

1st Round Predictions - Erakovic to beat Peer in 2 sets, Davis to beat Halep in 3 sets and McHale to beat Pironkova in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Kvitova/A.Radwanska

FOURTH QUARTER - S.Errani (6) v M.Sharapova (2)
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Sara Errani has rejuvunated her 2013 with final appearances in Paris and Dubai, and a title in Acapulco.  I am worried about her chances in Indian Wells though following a gruelling schedule across many different court surfaces.  A slugfest with Lourdes Dominguez Lino could be on the schedule for her first match.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will offer up a different challenge in round three, assuming the Russian can win her opening match, which is never clear cut.  Pavlyuchenkova has eluded me in every tournament this year, but I am going to go for a risk and say she will take Errani's place in the last 16.  Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli find themselves in the same section again having resided close together in Doha too.  Kuznetsova could meet Jankovic in the second round; Jankovic's win in Bogota two weeks ago was certainly confidence boosting, but nothing to write home about having featured just one win over a top 100 player.

Maria Sharapova is the number two seed and will face an interesting second round match against either Flavia Pennetta or Francesca Schiavone; Schiavone has been seriously struggling this year, but Pennetta has only just made her comeback from a serious wrist injury so goodness knows how that one will play out.  The in-form Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro will pose another test in the third round for Sharapova.  Roberta Vinci and Varvara Lepchenko are the two highest seeds in the next section, vying to be Sharapova's opponent in the round four.  It is another pretty lifeless section, which looks to be Lepchenko's for the taking as she scored a confidence win over Vinci in the Fed Cup earlier this year.

1st Round Predictions - Babos to beat Larsson in 2 sets, Kuznetsova to beat Hlavackova in 2 sets, Mladenovic to beat Scheepers in 2 sets, Pervak to beat Zheng in 3 sets and Schiavone to beat Pennetta in 3 crazy sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Kuznetsova/Sharapova

Moo's Final Prediction - Azarenka d. Sharapova

My final prediction is no surprise as I am going for Azarenka to beat Sharapova.  In a cooler climate, it would definitely have been an Azarenka/Kvitova final, which is a match-up that I am longing to see once again, but I still think for Kvitova to get past Sharapova (in the semi-finals) would require a huge effort on the Czech player's part.  I also want to see an Azarenka/Wozniacki match-up too, but it never happens so I am hoping that by predicting against it, it will happen in the quarter-finals!

I will be uploading my full predictions tomorrow when the qualifiers are placed, which could have quite an impact on the draw.  The mens draw is released tonight and hopefully, I will have time for a preview tomorrow.

Do you agree with my women's predictions for Indian Wells? Please post your own predictions :-)


  1. i mostly agree. maria v. vika in the finals but with maria winning. saw the URad/Vika match. Vika can't play maria with that form and mentality. can't wait to see vika face woz. im counting on caroline to step it up. she needs a win against vika to get people to believe in her again.

  2. I agree that Vika is not looking the favourite for the title right now in her current form. It could be a great chance for Wozniacki to make the semis, but have to see whether Vika is hindered by that ankle injury.