Second round action began on Friday in the desert with Agnieszka Radwanska, Heather Watson and Simona Halep all progressing into the third round. Watson upset Camila Giorgi with a 7-5 7-5 victory. Watson went up 5-0 in the second set and then lost five straight games. However she managed to avoid a third setter as she broke Giorgi to love in the final game of the match. She will play Radwanska in the third round. Halep started slowly against Daria Gavrilova, but improved significantly to come through in three sets, 2-6 6-1 6-2. Gavrilova was excellent in the first set and was very dynamic as she unsettled Halep, running away with the set after a lengthy deuce game at 3-2*. However she became more and more frustrated as the match wore on and Halep settled into her groove. It was a decent match and I think we will see a lot more from Gavrilova this year. Anyway, here’s a couple of previews for Saturday…
1. Sam Stosur v Taylor Townsend (IW, R2)
In Thursday’s late night WTA match, Taylor Townsend clung on for a superb victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4 5-7 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes. This was the one match that I really wanted to watch yesterday and it sounded like it lived up to expectation. The stats were also reasonable considering it was Indian Wells with Townsend finishing with 51 winners to 52 unforced errors. BMS had 17 more unforced errors than winners, but it was still better than most players through the first round.
Townsend will play Sam Stosur in the second round in what should be another really fun match. Stosur hasn’t won more than one match at any of the five tournaments she has played this year. Her tennis has been respectable, but she hasn’t managed to string anything together yet. Stosur is the kind of player that throws up odd head-to-head results; there are some players she has the absolute beating of some and others, she just can’t seem to compete with. This will be a first career match-up between the pair. Townsend has so much potential but at this moment of time in her career, she has the tendency to be up and down. I’d take Stosur, but it wouldn’t be a major upset if TT comes through.
Prediction: Stosur d. Townsend in 3 sets
2. Maria Sharapova v Yanina Wickmayer (IW, R2)
Maria Sharapova opens her 2015 BNP Paribas Open campaign against Yanina Wickmayer. As first matches in the desert go, this is a pretty tough one for Maria. Wickmayer has made a good start to the year; after going winless in her first two matches, she found her feet in Melbourne with three wins to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2011. Wickmayer struggled through February, but this was likely linked to an injury. In her first match of the week, Wickmayer beat Karin Knapp, 6-1 7-5. It was a solid performance from Wickmayer, who used her superior movement to good effect to come through in straight sets. For a recap of that match, click HERE.
Sharapova and Wickmayer have played just once before on the WTA tour and that came on the grass courts of Birmingham. Sharapova won in three sets, 6-1 2-6 6-3. I’m definitely pro-Wickmayer this year and I believe if she stays healthy, she can crack the top 30 again. I like her gritty determination and although she doesn’t always make the right tactical choices on court, her attitude is normally spot on. However, Sharapova does everything a bit better than Wickmayer so i’d still go for the Russian to come through with at least one tight set.
Prediction: Sharapova d. Wickmayer in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
WTA Indian Wells 2nd round predictions
Eugenie Bouchard d. Lucie Hradecka in 3 sets
Coco Vandeweghe d. Sesil Karatantcheva in 3 sets
Alize Cornet d. Christina McHale in 2 sets
Andrea Petkovic d. Lesia Tsurenko in 3 sets
Madison Keys d. Klara Koukalova in 2 tight sets
Jelena Jankovic d. Lauren Davis in 2 sets
Belinda Bencic d. Bojana Jovanovski in 3 sets
Caroline Wozniacki d. Ons Jabeur in 2 sets
Ana Ivanovic d. Yulia Putintseva in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Caroline Garcia d. Polona Hercog in 2 sets
Sabine Lisicki d. Roberta Vinci in 2 tight sets
Sara Errani d. Lin Zhu in 2 sets
Flavia Pennetta d. Madison Brengle in 2 sets
Victoria Azarenka d. Kirsten Flipkens in 2 sets