1. Simona Halep v Karolina Pliskova (IW, R4)
In a rematch of last month’s Dubai final, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will meet in the last 16 at Indian Wells. Pliskova has continued her superb start to the year in the desert. She played a great match to beat Garbine Muguruza for the second time this year, 7-5 6-4. Muguruza dominated the opening set as she cruised through her service games, winning three consecutive service games to love. Pliskova had to save a break point during the middle of the set and was struggling to find her range. However, one weak service game from Muguruza was all it took for Pliskova to swing the tables. She made no mistake in serving out the set in what was a clutch showing. Pliskova opened with an early break in the second set and kept it right until the end. Mentally, Pliskova is looking very strong right now with 18 WTA main draw wins in 2015. Pliskova has won both her matches in straight sets in Indian Wells, while Halep has needed three sets in both of her matches. In what sounded like an excellent match, Halep defeated Varvara Lepchenko, 6-1 3-6 6-1.
Halep needed three sets to defeat Daria Gavrilova in her second round match. She played a poor second set, but improved significantly in the final two sets. This is a really intriguing match-up between two players who I really enjoy watching for completely different reasons. Pliskova’s timing in her match against Muguruza was, at times, stunning. She’s playing with a great deal of confidence and is proving herself to be one of the mentally solid. In the final of Dubai, Pliskova was notably fatigued as Halep went on to win, 6-4 7-6(4). However, i’d say the conditions in Indian Wells suit Halep better. I’m finding it hard to make a prediction in this match and I keep changing my mind. I’m going to stick with my original prediction of Halep. I’d expect the Czech player to win at least a set, but Halep has been playing decent tennis this year and if she’s up for this, I think she will edge it.
Prediction: Halep d. Pliskova in 3 sets
2. Timea Bacsinszky v Elina Svitolina (IW, R4)
A duo of upsets were served on Sunday as Elina Svitolina and Timea Bacsinszky beat higher ranked opposition to set up a fourth round match with huge opportunities for both players to make a Premier Mandatory quarter-final. Svitolina beat Lucie Safarova, 7-6(5) 7-5 with a supremely solid display. Svitolina hasn’t received a great deal of attention as one of WTA’s “rising stars”, but she is definitely one to watch. Her strokes may not be as flashy as the likes of Muguruza, Keys or Pliskova, but she is becoming a real threat on tour. Equally, Bacsinszky is impressing in 2015. Her results this year have been nothing short of spectacular and she is now 9-1 in three set matches in 2015.
Bacsinszky came from a double break down in the deciding set of her third rounder against Ekaterina Makarova to win, 3-6 7-5 6-4. It was her second top 10 win of 2015 (having beaten Petra Kvitova in Shenzhen) and it was her 14th consecutive win. As well as Bacsinszky fought, Makarova suffered a surprising collapse in the final set. She looked extremely flustered and had a rather heated exchanged with her coach on one of the changeovers. The final couple of games consisted of mainly Makarova errors. This wil be a first career match-up between Bacsinszky and Svitolina. I would have gone with Timea if she hadn’t played so much tennis, but I think Svitolina will prevail. Bacsinszky has already withdrawn from Miami “to rest” according to reports on Twitter and I don’t think Svitolina will make the same errors that Makarova committed at the end of their match on Monday.
Prediction: Svitolina d. Bacsinszky in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
WTA Indian Wells 4th round predictions
Serena Williams d. Sloane Stephens in 2 sets
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Heather Watson in 3 sets *On the fence*