Gone are the easy first-round knock-outs. We’re in the stage of this WTA Premier Mandatory where the battles really begin. Day 5 will bring out some of the best players – all with the will to win. Here are four matches where the winner will need to work for it. Suprised to see Jen Brady here? I’m not!
Garbine Muguruza vs Serena Williams
Head to head: Muguruza 2-3 S. Williams
Serena was handed a tough draw for the 2019 BNP Paribas. Starting her run against Vika Azarenka is not the norm in the second round. Yet, Serena found her way to the finish line in this clash of titans. With the Williams/Muguruza head-to-head, Muguruza’s two wins over Serena came on clay. The courts at Indian Wells will benefit Muguruza, no doubt, but not enough to secure a victory. Muguruza will find it difficult to fend off Serena’s power. Likewise, pinpoint placement will make Muguruza’s task impossible. It is Serena who we’ll see move into the quarter finals. This match will be as competitive as Serena’s recent Azarenka outing, but really, I think we’re looking at the 2019 champion in Serena Williams.
Prediction: Serena in 2
Kiki Bertens vs Johanna Konta
Head to head: Bertens 1-2 Konta
Kiki Bertens has had an up and down start to the season. During the WTA All-Access Hour, Bertens talked about this, and “hopefully this week it’s the up again” she said. She’s defeated Top 10 players including Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki; but, she lost in a mere 38 minutes on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. A determined and laser focused player in the form of Johanna Konta is capable of creating an upset. Konta made quick work of Hsieh, a match which should have chalked up a win in Hsieh’s column. She’s a whip-smart player, whose effort is as much mental as it is physical. This will be an interesting match, a lot of great and unexpected points, but Bertens should come through this one – she’s clearly enjoying an up right now.
Prediction: Bertens in 2
Jen Brady vs Ashleigh Barty
American Jen Brady is playing exception tennis, and on US soil she’ll have the often boisterous crowd behind her. Brady’s power and solid serve are the tools to challenge Barty. But, Barty returns serve exceptionally well. It’s a strong-suit which will negate Brady’s weapon, putting her serve at risk. Two players in this good of form will excite the crowd and I expect this match will take some time to find its victor. Hard to call, but I think Barty has the slight edge and will move on.
Prediction: Barty in 3
Bianca Andreescu vs Stefanie Voegele
It’s two players no one expected to be here – rising tennis teen Bianca Andreescu and World #109 Stefanie Voegele from Switzerland. Voegele upset the #4 seed, Sloane Stephens. Her return of serve was her weapon, breaking Stephens on five occasions – an amazing confidence boost for the Swiss! Her game is consistency, not first-strike tennis and I doubt anyone saw this ousting at the onset. On the other side of the net, the Canadian rising star eliminated Irina-Camelia Begu. She’ll feel a confidence boost as well. It’ll be a tough win for either competitor, but I give the oh-so-slight edge to Bianca Andreescu.
Prediction: Andreescu in 3