The second and final round of qualifying in Indian Wells is underway for the women with the main draw beginning on Wednesday. There are many great follows on Twitter if you want to see pictures of your favourite players and know who they are practising with… @StephintheUS and @lawanda50 are must follows this week. This is the second installment of first round previews (first part featuring Townsend v Mattek-Sands and Mladenovic v Barthel HERE) along with predictions for all the first round matches that are currently known.
1. Julia Goerges v Heather Watson (IW, R1)
Heather Watson began the year with her second WTA title in Hobart with four top 50 wins and five straight set wins. Since then, Watson hasn’t won a WTA main draw match. In my opinion, Watson is not quite solid enough to be a counterpuncher but when she is aggressive, it’s not normally enough to blow her opponent off the court. I think she has something and has the potential to be a top 30 player, but she’s not there yet. After losses to Tsvetana Pironkova (AO), Kateryna Kozlova (Dubai) and Saisai Zheng (Doha) in her last three tournaments, Watson will hope for more joy when she goes up against Julia Goerges in the first round. Compared to the last couple of years, this has been a promising start to the season for Goerges. She has won at least one match at each tournament she has played in 2015. This included a last 16 appearance at the Australian Open and quarter-final showings in both Auckland and Kuala Lumpur. In their only previous match, Goerges beat Watson in straight sets at the French Open back in 2012, 6-3 6-4. Goerges has been playing well of late and i’m not sure whether Watson will have enough in her locker to prevent the German player from hitting her stride.
Prediction: Goerges d. Watson in 2 sets
2. Daniela Hantuchova v Klara Koukalova (IW, R1)
In a sixth career meeting, Daniela Hantuchova will take on Klara Koukalova in the first round of Indian Wells. After a miserable 2014, Hantuchova has been enjoying a reasonably good start to the year. Hantuchova won her seventh WTA title in Pattaya City and has won her last five three set matches. She is returning to one of her most successful jaunts having twice won the Indian Wells title in 2002 and 20078. In contrast, Koukalova is enduring a miserable 2015. After a hectic and successful first three months of 2014, Koukalova’s lack of form has seen her unable to defend ranking points and fall to number 88 in the world. She snapped a four match losing streak in Kuala Lumpur with a victory over Patricia Mayr-Achleitner. However, Koukalova fell in the second round to the rising, Carina Witthoeft. In Koukalova’s favour, she has won her last two matches against Hantuchova. This match has messy three sets written all over it. Hantuchova’s recent upturn in confidence should be enough to see her edge this one.
Prediction: Hantuchova d. Koukalova in 3 tight sets
WTA Indian Wells 1st round predictions
Monica Niculescu d. Aleksandra Krunic in 3 sets
Donna Vekic d. Louisa Chirico in 2 tight sets
Sloane Stephens d. Chanelle Scheepers in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Marina Erakovic d. Grace Min in 3 sets
Alla Kudryavtseva d. Sachia Vickery in 3 sets
Ajla Tomljanovic d. Irina Falconi in 2 sets
Monica Puig d. Nicole Gibbs in 2 sets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Johanna Larsson in 2 sets
Alison Riske d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in 3 sets
Christina McHale d. Petra Cetkovska in 3 sets
Anna Schmiedlova d. Lauren Davis in 2 sets
Kiki Bertens d. Bojana Jovanovski in 2 tight sets
Jarmila Gajdosova d. Roberta Vinci in 2 sets
Madison Brengle d. Saisai Zheng in 3 sets
Kirsten Flipkens d. Shelby Rogers in 3 sets
Yanina Wickmayer d. Karin Knapp in 2 sets