WTA Indian Wells, 3rd Round Preview for Sunday: Kuznetsova v Stephens, Safarova v Svitolina

Indian Wells is finally gathering some pace now with the women starting the third round on Sunday and the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing their first matches of the week.  The schedules are pretty dreamy this weekend and ideal for anyone with a grounds pass as there is so much going on! In the first batch of Saturday’s matches, Ana Ivanovic beat Yulia Putintseva in an entertaining two setter.  I recapped the match HERE including a few screenshots and tweets of Yulia in all her glory.  Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani advanced, as did Belinda Bencic and Sabine Lisicki who both failed to serve out their matches at the first time of asking, but got the job done in the end with BIG wins.

1. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Sloane Stephens (IW, R3)

StephensSloane Stephens enjoyed one of her best wins in quite sometime as she knocked out the number 13 seed Angelique Kerber, 7-6(6) 6-2.  It was a confident and measured display from Stephens, who came back from deficits to win both sets.  It is rough to watch Kerber in this form; she is in a rut right now, which can often be hard to get out of it.  She was very defensive in the first set and when she did try to step it up, it didn’t always work.  She hit a handful of impressive winners, but just cannot seem to string anything together.  Stephens goes through to play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round.  Kuznetsova enjoyed her first completed WTA main draw win of 2015.  Her only previous win had come via a retirement from Kaia Kanepi in Dubai.  Kuznetsova defeated Katerina Siniakova, 7-6(2) 6-2.  The first set sounded a little crazy… Kuznetsova failed to serve out the first set (no surprise!) but then saved five (?) set points to force a decider, which she won comfortably.

In their only previous match, Kuznetsova defeated Stephens in a tight two setter at the Australian Open in 2012, 7-6(6) 7-5.  Tennis is an unpredictable game, but that couldn’t be more true for these two players.  You really never know what you are going to get from either player.  Out of every WTA player on the tour, Kuznetsova is the one that bamboozles me the most.  When I have her going deep in a tournament, she bombs out and vice versa! Stephens did well at Indian Wells last year, reaching the quarter-finals.  Although she seems to check out of matches, i’d actually have more faith in Stephens over Kuznetsovsa in closing out the win.

Prediction: Stephens d. Kuznetsova in 3 sets

2. Lucie Safarova v Elina Svitolina (IW, R3)

SafarovaLucie Safarova won her first match of the week at Indian Wells with a straight sets victory over Mona Barthel, 6-4 7-6(4).  The match wasn’t streamed, but the stats looked reasonably good.  Lucie needed just one break of serve in the first set (and saved four break points) and then won a tight second set on the tiebreak.  In the third round, she takes on Elina Svitolina in what will be a first match-up between the pair.  Svitolina came through a rollercoaster second round match against Alison Van Uytvanck, 4-6 7-6(4) 6-1.  Svitolina seems to get tangled in quite a few tough matches like this one, but she’s developing an impressive habit of getting out of them with a win.  This should be an interesting one; Svitolina is a very solid player with great hands at the net and the ability to hit winners.  Safarova has the more consistent serve and if she keep her error count respectable, she should have enough in her locker to reach the last 16.

Prediction: Safarova d. Svitolina in 3 sets

3. Ekaterina Makarova v Timea Bacsinszky (IW, R3)

Makarova 3Take a bow, Timea Bacsinszky.  The Swiss player is having a sensational start to the 2015 season.  At a career best number 26 in the rankings, Bacsinszky is 19-2 for the year, which has included two titles back-to-back in Acapulco and Monterrey and a finals appearance in Shenzhen.  Her only losses have come against Simona Halep (Shenzhen, final) and Garbine Muguruza (AO, R3)… not too shabby.  Equally impressive is that Bacsinszky has a 8-1 W-L record in three set matches.  In fact, five of her last six matches have gone the distance and she’s won them all.  This clearly shows how confident Timea is right now and it’s pulling her through when you’d expect her to be lying flat out on the court in exhaustion.  In the second round, Bacsinszky came from a set down to beat Marina Erakovic, 4-6 6-3 6-2. In the third round, Bacsinszky will play Ekaterina Makarova, who defeated her doubles partner, Elena Vesnina in straight sets, 6-4 6-0.  Makarova has been the epitome of consistency over the last year and has done a superb job at beating players ranked below her in the rankings.  I think all those matches might finally catch up with Bacsinszky as Makarova is a quality player and a tough cookie to crack.

Prediction: Makarova d. Bacsinszky in 2 sets

WTA Indian Wells 3rd round predictions

Serena Williams d. Zarina Diyas in 2 sets

Simona Halep d. Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets (6-0 H2H for Pavs! H2H isn’t everything, but Pavs seems to finding some form)

Agnieszka Radwanska d. Heather Watson in 2 sets

Photos by Omar Boraby and Moo’s Tennis Blog

14 thoughts on “WTA Indian Wells, 3rd Round Preview for Sunday: Kuznetsova v Stephens, Safarova v Svitolina

  1. Suarez will most likely win this time regardless of the previous losses. If you watch her match with Puig, she was solid both backhand and forehand. I think she has gained a lot of confidence from her previous matches. Pavl was struggling to hold serves with BZS, she as lucky to win because BZS was off under the very hot sun.


      • And this court really suits her game, too!
        I think Heather Watson could take a set off Radwanska. Maybe even win. Aga has definitely had her confidence shaken quite a bit and she seems ripe for an upset.


      • I don’t see why people think Aga is a bad matchup for Watson. When she’s switched on she has a really aggressive return which always gets Radwanska tied in nots.


  2. To be honest,

    CSN vs Pavly –> too close to call.
    Both players cannot win the match on their own. It depends on Pavly’s serves and CSN’s backhand. Clearly, Pavly knows CSN’s games very well so it is not a good match up. CSN did change her games lately to hit the balls deeper and harder. So, it goes down to Pavly serves if she can hit hard and force CSN to place the balls in the middle of the court so that she can kill it like she did in Paris 2014. In addition, all previous CSN losses were played under low temperature. Today weather in Indian Wells will be 92F when they play. The balls will fly and court is hot like frying pan (i.e. in real feel term). Pavly will have hard time to cope. The court condition will favour CSN. The winning margin will be minimum. It will decide in the 3rd set and I think the current form slightly favor CSN but I won’t write off Pavly before the match.

    Karo vs Muguruza –> too close to call. It depends on Karo’s serves. If Karo manages to keep MUG at the baseline, she will probably reproduce the results in Dubai. However, Falconi has provided MUG a good pre-match warm up. Falconi is a mini version of Pliskova without the serve. Falconi did exactly to keep MUG at bay but her serves failed her so she lost. This match provided some insight for MUG to fine tune her serves and may be some of her ground strokes. I believe this is a long match in 3. Really, it can go either way.

    Makarova (Kate) vs Timi –> their styles are very similar. Both are very consistent. Like James mentioned in the above. Timi will be exhausted under the hot sun. It is not so easy for her to recover like she did in Monterrey because the weather was cold at that time and she had a long break during her matches due to rain. I see a straight 2 sets win for Kate.

    Sloan vs Kuzy –> Sloan will win and I won’t be surprised she can win in 2 sets. It is in American’s soil. The crowd support and momentum will swing to Sloan. Not to mention she has a better coach behind her now.

    Aga vs Watson –> extremely bad match up. Easy win for Aga in 2.

    Lucie vs Elina –> On paper Lucie will win. I think it will decide in the 3rd set. Prove me wrong, Lucie may flop here.

    Time for me to go to the stadium to get a morning beer. The tourney has a bad scheduling. I will miss Kyrgios vs Grigor because of Karo vs Mug match.


  3. How hard is to predict matches. James, I really kudo to you.

    Pliskova really played well. The moment I sat down and felt the strong wind. I was telling myself, MUG would have problem this time. She was very cautious hitting some of her shots. Pliskova just all out to kill. Anyway, I love both of them.

    Aga..is a shocker. Congratulations to Watson. She really played well after I watched the short replay just now. Watson’s mojo is on fire.

    I watch Timi/Makarova 3rd set. She fought back to upset Makarova. It seems that she has found the way to beat Makarova.

    I was joking to my friend that Elina would defeat Safarova after watching her first match. We actually put some money on her to win for fun. She really did it.

    I am going to watch CSN/Pavly match now. Getting a beer first. It is so damn hot here and windy. The wind feels like heater.


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