WTA Indian Wells, 4th Round Preview: Halep v Pliskova, Bacsinszky v Svitolina

1. Simona Halep v Karolina Pliskova (IW, R4)

PliskovaIn 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)

Elina SvitolinaA 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*

Poll results: 57% of readers correctly predicted that Pliskova would beat Muguruza, 59% correctly predicted that Stephens would beat Kuznetsova, 24% correctly predicted that Svitolina would beat Safarova and 36% correctly predicted that Bacsinszky would beat Makarova.

 Photos by Moo’s Tennis Blog and Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

43 thoughts on “WTA Indian Wells, 4th Round Preview: Halep v Pliskova, Bacsinszky v Svitolina

  1. I’m standing by Pliskova. I think Halep has been understandably shaken by what happened with her cousin. The fatigue and nerves that caused Pliskova to lose the Dubai final should both be gone here. Anne Keothavong saying how high Karolina got the balls compared to other women on the WTA… on this surface against such a short player, that could be a huge bonus for her.

    I agree with your other picks though.

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    • Except maybe Heather Watson, since she’s on a role. She needs to really watch the UFEs though because Suarez Navarro doesn’t miss much lately.

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    • Simona’s cousin’s suicide definitely seemed to show in her first match. However, against Lepchenko she was right on it for most of the match (serving woes aside – that’s a carry over from Melbourne & Dubai). It wasn’t even a bad 2nd set by Simona. Lepchenko just played great in that set. I think Simona will be 100% focused for the R4 match and will continue to demonstrate the fighting spirit she’s shown since the Aussie Open.

      Sure, she’ll need to raise her level to beat Pliskova but she usually does against Top 20 players.

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      • You can read Halep’s mind? lol! I am going to enjoy this match with my friends tomorrow regardless who is going to win.

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    • I think Halep has the slight edge in this match. Her ground strokes are definitely better than Karo except her serves. Halep will not give many errors like MUG did. Taking out all these unforced errors in which Halep has far better stats. Karo has to serve really well to win and must make use of her powerful forehand to hammer the balls like Lepchenko. I think the winning ratio is 60/40 leaning towards Halep. However, I won’t be surprised if Karo pull out an upset here. There are so many upsets already in this tournament in this two days. I just saw Garcia hammered Ana a few hours ago.

      Prediction solely based on past results is a little bit biased sometimes. For example, Wozniacki and Cornez just couldn’t get into the match today for some reasons and they both lost.

      Anyway, I think Elina will take out Timi Basc this time based on her technical skills showing in this tourney. Timi may need a miracle to win this one because she looked really tired towards the end of her last match.

      Anyone guessing if Watson can win tomorrow?

      Anyway, I am happy that Sabine won the match today. Dinner time and then prepare for tomorrow matches again as a spectator.

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      • Wondering if you are same sudut that posts on wta about Simona( here is an objective opinion…there only insults)

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  2. I would even go for a 2 sets victory of Simona over Karoline, but I am a #HalepBand fan so it’s normal to say so 🙂
    But now concentrating on the facts:
    – Looking at her matches this year, her shape is improving significantly as she advances in the tournaments (Shenzhen, Dubai, I would not mention AO as I think that was an exception, she did not fight there, but not the case now).
    – she gained a lot of confidence in herself lately. She is fighting now for every point till the match ends. In the last match, I even see her smiling during the match, this never happened before.
    – her shots are simply spectacular from the most toughest positions
    – Karoline is not so precise from the run and Simona will make her run a lot
    – the return is working fine, there will not be so many points from Karo’s aces.
    – the list can continue, but I will let the other #HalepBand fans to come:)

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    • Halep has always smiled in matches, it’s something I really like about her.
      But how are you expecting her to make Pliskova move around a lot? Karolina is stronger and has much more powerful groundstrokes and will be the one dictating points. Halep’s only real game plan is to keep her hitting until she misses the lines or hits the net.

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      • Hmm … You should re-watch that Dubai final. Simona was the one dictating much of the time. I think Pliskova’s power or use of it is over-rated. Often she’s hitting mid-pace balls down the centre.

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      • Simona is not smiling during the matches. She smiles only after the match is finished. Usually, she is very serious and concentrated. I agree with you her smile is adorable 🙂 Karoline will try to dictate the points, maybe she will succeed for some of them but in the moment she will hit less stronger, Simona will make her run and we know that Karo is not so good when she hits out of position. Your plan might work as well, I think we will have also some new shots from Simona like the service volley she did in her match with Varvara and not only that. She experimented a lot of shots yesterday, maybe we will see again the successful ones.

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      • Halep dictated points in Dubai, sure, Pliskova looked shattered and at times like she just wanted it to end. She wasn’t sharp and she was rushing points rather than dictating them. I don’t see it happening here.

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    • I think the second set of Halep vs Lepchenko match is a good indication of how a fresh and not fatigued Karo is going to play Halep. I think Karo is really tied in Dubai final.

      The average first serve percentage for Karo is about 60% with a few aces. If she maintain this number, she can trouble Halep. I tend to agree with Andrew that Karo does not need to run much since her ground strokes are so strong to make Halep run first before her (like she did to MUG).

      They played at night in the Dubai final and I remembered the temperature dropped to 62F or 63F. For your information, this court is slower and they will play under the hot sun right in the middle of the sky. The court condition will favour Karo. When the balls fly you will see Halep hitting off the court very often like she did in the first round. Halep is good on paper because of her ranking. However, Karo already known what can expect from Halep. Prove me wrong, Karo will hit very hard to both end of the court to dictate the match. I do think an upset is possible. I think this time will to three sets to decide the winner.

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      • The second set of Halep vs Lepchenko was an experimental one for Simona, she approached it as a practice for new shots (i.e the service volley)
        Simona likes slower courts, she is feeling the ball the better. In fact, before Dubai she said that the fast courts might trouble her:) Lucky her, she proved to be as good as on the slower courts in Singapore or Doha last year.
        It will be a tough match for Simona, I am not minimizing Karoline here, just trying to bring the right arguments into discussion ::)

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  3. When anyone says that such and such player looks tired you should fade what they have to say completely. How many times do you think people have said, “Timea looks tired I’m not sure she can win another game” only to turn around and see that Timea has won another title.

    I call Timea the, “come back kid”. I think she likes taking players to 3 sets because that’s her bread and butter and after she is done wearing her opponent down she sticks it to them in the 3rd set and wins.

    She’s beaten some high quality players like Carolina Garcia (Who’s beaten Ivanovic the #6 two times in a row). She just beat Ekaterina Makarova the #9. And from here I think were taking a step back to an easier opponent Elina Svitolina (the #29). And by easier, I mean that Elina Svitolina is not playing to her full potential that she could be. Also, I’m not entirely convinced by the win she pulled off vs Safarova because Safarova played awfully bad.

    Halep is a different story. I think she may be trying to hide an ankle injury and so far is just trying to outlast her opponents. As it stands, it would be dangerous for Halep to give up a set to Pliskova as she might end up in a position that is hard to get out of and win.

    My prediction:
    Timea in 3 sets.
    Pliskova upsets Halep 2-1.

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    • The difference between Svitolina and Garcia or Makarova is that Elina hardly makes any errors and in order to best her you must try to hit her off the court, which is hard because she’s unbelievably fast. At which point her serve becomes vulnerable when under pressure. Garcia and Makarova gift way more free points. Garcia is also quite a nervy young player who let those two finals really get to her, though on paper she should have won both.

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  4. Halep played a very poor match against Lepchenko in my opinion. Poor serve and lots of UEs. She will really struggle against KL playing like that. Still, I favour Simona to take the match. because of her capacity to step up and raise her game. Pliskova is a bit lazy with her footwork and her game tends to be one dimensional. If best simona shows up it doesn’t matter how high and hard KL can get the ball, it won’t be enough in these slow courts.

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  5. Despite all the technicalities already pointed out, by most of you I simply want to restate Halepino’s message : “I will fight for every single ball on court” – Match against Makarova being the CLICK for the reeavaluation of her game and state of mind. Hope she can prove it once more on court against Pliskova.

    She may not be too stable at the moment (biggest issue: serve) but I am sure she will fight and put in execution her amazing defense and her returning skills and we shall all enjoy a very entertaining match. The show is already a given. As for the winner … it can only be one of them, hopefully Halep once more.

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    • i am wondering about the ankle of Halep too. Crossing my fingers that she does not over-do the “go for every single ball and point” and kill that ankle by over-stressing it permanently. I respect Nadal’s play, but I think Federer and Djokovic plays smarter and healthier.
      Back to Karo and Simo… I’d like to see how Halep manages the afternoon weather this time. She was clearly exhausted and not moving well in her first game. Fan of Halep of course, but I see a 3set match.. and if ankle does not get in the way, I should be smiling. (But I smile every time I can see her play live) *I’m most impressed by Karo in the Rising Players. Miss ICE.

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      • Thoroughly enjoyed the match by both players this morning. Women tennis really getting so interesting and many unique and good playing styles. Happy. Both Karo and Halep did not disappoint.
        I was reading Halep’s interview script after the 2014 Wimbledon SF.., I can understand exactly how psychologically one can be affected in their ability to play freely especially when your style depends heavily on a part which is hurt. Certainly I wouldn’t deny that there will be some players and fans who will simply use that as an easy excuse for losing a match, and not giving credit to the other opponent. I believe Halep to be careful not to risk injuries, and sometimes admit that an injury causing her to not play her best, but I believe too that she will not use that to undermine opponent’s credibility as a player.
        It is just so great to see so many people passionate about exciting tennis 😉 and these blogs arena are awesome.

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  6. I think Halep vs Karo Pliskova match will favour Halep on paper but it does smell an upset around the corner. I don’t know who has this idea that she has an ankle problem or she feels grieve due to family issues. Perhaps her Romanian fans try to leak this information to give an excuse in case she loses Karo. Like I said in the above, they will play under the hot sun. It is not a night match. Halep will find it hard to run every ball like she played Daria in the first round. I was watching the last match between Sabine and Sara. I could hear Sara breathing like a horse at certain points due to the heat even in the night match. It was really hot yesterday. I sound like a Karo’s fan lol!

    If you check through Timea matches lately, she has played some power hitters in the past notably Garcia, Kvitova, Sharapova, Wickmayer and Carina in 2014/2015.

    Like Andrew mentioned in the above, Garcia was nervous and handed both matches to Timi but the second one in Monterrey was close because they played three sets. Also, the weather is cold and this suits Timi. I bet you Garcia will win the third one if they play again.

    I can speak for the Kvitova’s case in Shenzhen this year. I was there on business trip and then dropped by to watch this match. Kvitova handed the match to her opponents as usual. I left the match before they even finished because it was waste of time. Petra would broke my heart again. You can watch the match on Youtube. Similarly, Sharapova also handed the match to her. I also bet you that she will lose the next time tif she meets Maria and Petra.

    Yanina, we all know how inconsistent she can be. The match was also handed to Timi with 58 or 62 UFEs. You can check the stats online.

    By all means, credits should give to Timi because she won those matches. I cannot deny her victories.

    Now, I can speak for Elina’s case. I was watching her match and witnessed how she defeated Safarova the other day. She is solid on both forehand and backhand. Her serves are powerful and second serves are very decent too (check her stats). As you know Safarova has no Plan B when she plays. That’s why she couldn’t win Grand Slam till now. She was outplayed by Elina. Elina is very consistent and fast. She takes the balls early and hit back immediately and very accurate on baseline. Safarova has no answers for this match. It is not like Garcia who gave the match away.

    I stick to my prediction that Elina will win this one. They will play in the afternoon where the court will feel like a frying pan with some hot wind. How many miles can you run under the hot sun when you have played so many three setters. Prove me wrong if she can win this time. I love Timi but it will end here.

    Too much wine last night but too excited to go to sleep. Oh 4 am, I really have to sleep. See you on court, I carry a Czec’s flag tomorrow.

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    • Dear Sudut,hope Simona will prove you wrong! And I think you’ve got the wrong fans, they are others to find excuses for the players that lost with Simona: too tired,injured,too inexperienced etc. May we enjoy a nice match and the best to win!

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    • @Sudut hahah, hope you didn’t mean Tzing when you said Romanian fans 🙂
      Regarding Simona, her ankle will be fine, no more fuss here. on her tragedy in the family, I propose not to mention that anymore, we have to respect her privacy as she already asked in her press conference after the match from R1.

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    • Well Sudut, I’m sure Simona is feeling some grief due to her cousin’s suicide but I’ll concede that it didn’t seem to affect her against Lepchenko. The concern about her ankle arises from the MTO she took in that match. She has those ankles strapped pretty tight so hopefully it was more that she just wanted the strapping loosened a bit, rather than any new injury or a flaring up of her Achilles issue from last Spring.

      But, no excuses – most players are carrying niggles of some sort for much of the time. May the best player on the day win. 🙂

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    • hi Sudut, I think Karo will get closer in their third encounter definitely. Fun part about seeing how these players evolve through their losses and wins… Loved how she came back very strong in the early second set after losing the first.
      Looking forward to Halep xCarla QF.. CSN had been playing fantastic in recent tournaments,.. will be another nice match to lose sleep over ;D

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  7. Dear Sudut,

    With all due respect, I hope you prove wrong about your prediction concerning Halep. As a Halep fan I can say we do not want to find excuses for Halep’s form in case she loses to Karo. She can either win or lose, rather simple in theory .. let’s wait and see tonight

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  8. Anca, I love tennis and I play regular tennis in the weekend with friends. I am a rationale tennis fan who doesn’t side any player. I am not like those die-hard fans who may not even have picked up their tennis racquet to play a few matches in their life.

    Halep does not need to prove me wrong because I did not pick the winner in this match. I just implied there may be an upset. It is possible! If you know Sharapova is 5-0 against Halep and she only needs to hit the balls very hard to both ends of the court to win it.

    The court is slow but the ball bounds a little bit higher under the hot sun. It favor the tall girl Karo because she has time to make shots (does not need to bend like she played in Dubai) and smack the balls down the corner. Halep’s advantage is to take the ball early and using her speed to beat her opponents. When the court is slow, speed is not the key factor anymore. Also, when the ball bounds so high, it is not easy for a short girl like Halep.

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    • C’mon Sudut, you cannot compare Sharapova with Pliskova. Masha is fast, she is having very good tehnique, she is opening angles. Karo is none of these. No offence, but Masha is actually playing tennis while Karoline is just hitting.

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      • I disagree completely. I think Sharapova has made a brilliant career of hitting the ball as hard as she can and disrupting her opponents rhythm by forcing them to play at her pace and on her terms. She’s living proof that belief outweighs ability in tennis.

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    • I do very much appreciate your taking the time to reply. I am no expert on all these technicalities just a mere, passionate fan but also a rationale one; aware of the fact that Halep’s task this evening will be very, very tough …

      I see your point related to the weather conditions but Halep can manage them and find a way to win. Anyway hope both players will entertain ourselves with some amazing tennis, hot shots and why not some drama as well …

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    • I think you missed my point because I was saying that hitting the ball hard is about all Maria is good at. And making a bloody noise doing it.

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      • Sharapova is good at beating Halep but she is on her way home. Happy for Halep and the Romanian fans…right Anca!

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  9. As I thought, Simona has too much game for Pliskova again. And what a difference it makes when her serve works. Then the rest of her game can just flow like fine wine.

    Maybe one day everyone will realise what a cracking tennis player Simona is. 😉

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    • If look at the stats, the winning margin was minimum notably Karo unforced errors and below average percentage of her serve. Halep probably can start winning slam when Serena and Sharapova are not around. So far, I think only Muguruza can beat her.

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  10. Seeded players get sending home one-by-one. This is about women tennis.

    Halep served well and played some good shots to win. So, she is not injured (MTO is a trick to slow down Lepcy?). Congratulations to all the Romanian fans because she won the match. Good news is Sharapova is on her way home. The record 5-0 can be retained for now. Should I say Suarez may be able to pull out a surprise?

    Timi proved me wrong one more time. She is a real grinder. I think she has a game plan to break down opponent rhythm. Svitolina just couldn’t get into her own games. The entire three sets were all about moon balls. I really want to see if the she can take Serena to three sets and win. That might be a good news for Halep.

    Flavia match was epic. Sabine also played really well to win and Jelena moved on.

    I am so happy for Flavia, Sabine and Timi. Put some money on these matches…really happy especially Flavia gave me a wonderful payout. I can buy something for my girl after the final day.

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    • Happy indeed Sudut and also a bit surprised to see that Karolina’s serve did not work to its full pontential but damn so relieved to see Simona’s serving so much better. The double faults were there but still she was overall solid, her returns were in her typical style and she managed to dictate and impose herselfalmost from the very beginning. She did not struggle with the weather conditions and no injury at sight .. the most important news to me.

      Next challenge, Carla and her extraordinary backhand ….

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      • I think Navarro should be an easy win for Halep based on how she played. I think the problem with Pliskova wasn’t her serve… she really let Simona in her head and instead of playing how she usually plays, she tried to up the intensity and go for broke on every shot in Kvitova like fashion.

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    • Simona did play well. However, she doesn’t do fake MTOs. Like I said above, that was probably just to loosen the strapping because she always has them strapped super-tight.

      I’m kind of annoyed that Sharapova is out. In their current form I think Simona would spank her. 🙂

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  11. Karo problem was not hitting the ball deep enough to allow Halep to play her games. She should play like her normal games instead of trying to hit the balls in the middle…not sure why?

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