Victoria Azarenka v Agnieszka Radwanska – The first quarter-final pits together the two most consistent performers on the WTA tour in 2012. It is the fourth time that Radwanska and Azarenka will face off in 2012 in what is becoming an interesting, although somewhat one-sided rivalry with Azarenka prevailing in all their clashes this year. It has that bit of extra spice this time because after their last encounter in Doha, Radwanska accused Azarenka of dramatising an injury. They were good friends, but Radwanska has stated in interviews that they haven’t actually spoken since that match; watch out for the handshake in this one! With regards to the actual match, I don’t think Radwanska is going to be able to overturn Azarenka’s incredible 20-match winning streak. Azarenka is playing very well at the moment and with a lot of confidence so it will take something special to stop the Belarusian…
Prediction – Azarenka in 2 sets
Angelique Kerber v Li Na – Kerber is clinging onto her place in the Indian Wells draw as for the second time this week, she saved match points to progress. Kerber beat McHale 6-3 3-6 7-6 saving three match points at 6-5 down in the final set in what sounded like a high quality match between two talented players. Li Na on the other hand couldn’t have had it any easier as she recorded her first ever win over Klara Zakopalova in a dominant 6-1 6-0 victory. Li has won all three previous encounters with Kerber and has lost just five games in their last two matches. However they all took place in 2010 and Kerber is a completely transformed player in 2012. She is riding on a wave of confidence and is all suited and booted with a new fighting demeanour that she can beat anyone on the tour. I’m going to go for a shock and predict that Kerber can keep the wins coming…
Prediction – Kerber in 3 sets
Marion Bartoli v Ana Ivanovic – Ivanovic finally turned up for a big clash in 2012 as she turned the tables on a lacklustre Caroline Wozniacki to record a 6-3 6-2 victory. She will now play Marion Bartoli in a repeat of last year’s Indian Wells quarter-final. Bartoli was in impressive form too as she was not broken in a surprisingly straightforward 6-1 6-4 win over Lucie Safarova. Ivanovic leads the head-to-head 4-3, but Bartoli has won 3 of their last 4 matches including last year’s quarter-final. It will be interesting to see if Ivanovic can back up this big win, which was her first over a top 5 player since last October against Vera Zvonareva in Beijing… i’m going to say no as I think Bartoli is in great form at the moment and should not be underestimated.
Prediction – Bartoli in 3 sets
Maria Sharapova v Maria Kirilenko – Sharapova continued her rich vein of form in 2012 with a routine 6-2 6-1 victory over Roberta Vinci in the 4th round. Kirilenko will be her quarter-final opponent after she defeated Nadia Petrova, 6-1 5-7 6-2. Kirilenko survived being added to the list of chokes this week as she wasted a 6-1 4-0 lead before rediscovering her form in the third set. Sharapova and Kirilenko are 2-2 in their head-to-head with Kirilenko winning their last encounter at the Australian Open in 2010. Sharapova is a much more consistent player compared to 2010 and although Kirilenko has developed some positive aspects to her game in her desire to come to the net more, I think the world number two will have enough to reach the semi-finals.