WTA Indian Wells BNP Paribas Day 3 Predictions Including Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka

Friday moves the ladies into the Second Round, offering tennis fans plenty of great matches. Also in action will be the 2018 Finalist, Daria Kasatkina and the unpredictable Jelena Ostapenko. Here are predictions for five “must watch” matches.

WTA Indian Wells BNP Paribas Day 3 Predictions

Garbine Muguruza vs Lauren Davis

Head to head: Muguruza 1-0 Davis

Receiving a first round bye, Garbine Muguruza will begin her Indian Wells run up against American Lauren Davis. Davis impressed in her first round match against Anna Karolina Schmidelova where she broke her serve five times, an impressive 50% of return games. But, Muguruza is a much higher caliber player and Davis will need to fight for every game. It’s not Muguruza’s best venue and she doesn’t usually fare well at this tournament. Still, I expect Muguruza to stick around at least until the quarter finals.

Prediction:  Muguruza in 3
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Elise Mertens vs Amanda Anisimova

No history

Belgian Elise Mertens should be feeling pretty confident. She took out Simona Halep at the Qatar Open to win her biggest title of her career just a few weeks ago. And, on Wednesday, the World #13 doubles player, alongside Sabalenka, ended the #2 Seeds’ (Babos and Mladenovic) quest. She may be confident, but the tournament’s youngest player has the game that can end Mertens’ run. Effortless power allows Anisimova to crack winners from anywhere on the court. A Hingis-style ability to redirect sees her continually wrong-foot opponents. While the oddsmakers give the slight edge to Mertens, this early in the tournament, with energy and power on her side, I think the young American is nearly impossible to beat.

Prediction:  Anisimova in 3
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Stefanie Voegele vs Sloane Stephens

Head to head:  Voegele 3-1 Stephens

I’d feel better about Voegele’s chances if she’d have been able to win any match back-to-back. Seems she can win one, but can’t string a few together. She is coming off a commanding win over American Sachia Vickery that took only 20 games to decide. That may be the confidence booster Voegele needs. While the head-to-head would seem to favor Voegele, those wins were a long time ago. And, on Friday, she’ll face a healthy and mobile Sloane Stephens. On US soil with the crowd support behind her, we’ll see Stephens playing her best tennis. Though she’s another player with a shaky record at Indian Wells, the #4 Seed should move through this Second Round match with relative ease.

Prediction:  Stephens in 2
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Johanna Konta vs Hsieh Su-wei

Head to head:  Konta 3-2 Hsieh

A commanding win over Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier sends Johanna Konta to the Second Round. In her 6-2, 6-3 win over Parmentier, Konta dictated play beautifully. Taking more than 43% of her shots inside the baseline, Konta is demonstrating aggressive ball striking – and is coming to the net far more than we’re used to seeing. That strategy may not play well against Hsieh Su-wei.  The sneaky good 33-year-old from Taiwan is court savvy and creates tricky and unimaginable shots. And, when she’s down and it looks like she’ll lose the match, her “go for broke” style leads her to mouth-open shocking victories. Hsieh clearly cannot be overlooked given what she’s done in Dubai, and the 27-year-old Briton may meet her match.

Prediction:  Hsieh in 3
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Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka

Head to head:  Williams 18-4 Azarenka

This is definitely not the match you expect to see in the second round of a WTA Mandatory tournament. But, it just goes to show the long road back for each of these ladies, post pregnancy. These two former World #1s are looking to return to the top form which propelled them to that ranking pinnacle. During the Australian Open, we saw flashes of that in Serena, blasting serves, cracking winners and dominating her opponents. We also saw the let-downs, the most startling in which she lost a 5-1 lead. On the other side of the net is Azarenka who had an easy, straight-sets win over fellow Countryman Vera Lapko. She converted on six of her 13 break points and won 63% of her first serve points. But, clearly Lapko is not the talent Serena is. Azarenka has yet to put together a winning streak, and Serena is there to obstruct. This edge of your seat match should send Serena on to the third round.

Prediction:  Serena in 3

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