Women’s semi-finals action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells highlights Friday’s night schedule. Three of the four women’s quarter-finals were pushed to three sets but the offerings on Thursday were not pretty. As Indian Wells simmers to a conclusion, the attention will swiftly turn to Miami where the main draw of the second Premier Mandatory event of 2014 will kick off on Tuesday next week. If I remember, the turnaround from the main draw being released to the first matches being played is even shorter than Indian Wells. Here are my thoughts on the semi-finals in the desert.
1. Agnieszka Radwanska v Simona Halep (WTA IW, SF)
For the second time this year, Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep will meet each other in a WTA semi-final. By virtue of quarter-final results, Halep will crack the top five in next week’s rankings. Her rise to the upper echelons of the rankings has been quite phenomenal. In the quarter-finals, she produced another consistent performance in beating Casey Dellacqua, 6-2 6-2. Radwanska had a much tougher quarter-final as she battled for 2 hours and 33 minutes to record a fifth straight win against Jelena Jankovic, 7-5 2-6 6-4. It sounded like a fun match, one of the best that the women have produced this week.
Radwanska leads the head-to-head by 3 wins to 2; noteworthy is that Halep has won their last two matches, the most recent of those coming in Doha. On that day, Halep played a sensational match to prevail in two sets, 7-5 6-2. I think we are going to have to get used to matches between Radwanska and Halep and personally having missed their Doha match, I am really looking forward to this one. Halep was my predicted finalist in my original preview and I won’t be changing my mind on this one. I am expecting a much closer match though than the one in Doha.
Prediction: Halep d. Radwanska in 3 sets
2. Li Na v Flavia Pennetta (WTA IW, SF)
Thursday’s rematch of the Australian Open final was a very rough match with plenty of errors and double faults. After two hours and 36 minutes, and a couple of titanic games, Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova, 6-3 4-6 6-3. It was a plucky finish to the match from Li, who came from a break down in the decider and then saved a pair of break points at 3-3 in the decider. Li will play Flavia Pennetta in the semi-finals after she came through a torrid quarter-final with Sloane Stephens, 6-4 5-7 6-4. Beyond the Baseline tweeted a rather gruesome stat about the two women’s quarter-finals on Thursday.
Li just holds the edge over Pennetta in the head-to-head with three wins to two. Li won their last match in the Australian Open quarter-finals, 6-2 6-2. Pennetta has been peaking for the big events this year, but I don’t like her chances in this match-up. Li has committed tons of errors this week, but her more aggressive games matches up well against Pennetta. Great week, Flav, but Li is my tip to make the final.
Prediction: Li d. Pennetta in 2 sets