WTA Indian Wells, 3rd Round Previews for Sunday: Halep v Makarova, Jankovic v Vandeweghe

This post covers two third round matches set for Sunday’s schedule at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells; an all-seeded match-up between Simona Halep and Ekaterina Makarova, and the number 19 seed, Jelena Jankovic up against CoCo Vandeweghe. For a full round-up of what happened in the top half of the women’s draw on Friday, click HERE.

1. Simona Halep v Ekaterina Makarova (IW, R3)

Simona Halep

Simona Halep continues the defence of her Indian Wells title on Sunday when she plays Ekaterina Makarova in one of just two all-seeded matches from the top half of the women’s draw.

Halep arrived in the desert having lost her last four matches on the WTA tour; in her last competitive outing, Halep was unable to take advantage of a set and a double break lead against Elena Vesnina, eventually losing, 7-6(1) 4-6 1-6. Halep has had a couple of weeks off the tour and spent some time training with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi in Las Vegas. Halep looked at ease in the pictures from the All Access Hour and also commented that she was finally fully fit, having got over the achilles injury and health-related issues.

All this translated into her first round win over Vania King, which was by far and away her most complete performance of the year so far. Halep won, 6-1 6-1 in 55 minutes and finished with some positive stats. She was moving well and most importantly, dictating play with solid striking off both wings.

Like Halep, Makarova headed into Indian Wells having endured a miserable February. The 27-year-old was on a four match losing streak that stretched back to a nail-biting 6-8 third set loss to Johanna Konta in the fourth round of the Australian Open. In Indian Wells, Makarova enjoyed a solid win over Lucie Hradecka, coming through, 6-4 6-4. Hradecka buckled twice serving at *4-5, throwing in a shocker of a game in the first set and ending with a double fault. Makarova herself played a very poor game serving for the match at 6-4 *5-3; this included two groundstroke errors and a double fault down break point. Hradecka had game points to level up at 5-5 in the second set but Makarova was a touch more clincial, producing two meaningful backhand down-the-lines to seal the win.

Head-to-head record: Halep leads Makarova, 2-1, in their head-to-head. Makarova’s lone win came at the Australian Open in 2015, a surprisingly straightforward, 6-4 6-0 victory. Halep rebounded though in Dubai, battling to a 6-3 6-1 7-5 victory en route to the title.

Interesting stat: Makarova has been one of the most consistent players on the WTA tour these past few years. However, after a period of injury and poor form at the start of 2016, she is currently down at number 32 in the world, her lowest ranking since the summer of 2012.

Final thoughts: Both players have had similar patterns of play this year having failed to win a match on the WTA tour since the Australian Open. Halep was very impressive in her second round match but with respect to King, Makarova will present a much greater threat. One point about Makarova is that she seems more and more mentally fraught these days. Even in her match against Hradecka, there were several vocal outbursts. This will be a solid indicator of Halep’s form and my guess would be that she comes through in comfortable fashion…

Prediction: Halep d. Makarova in 2 sets

2. Jelena Jankovic (19) v CoCo Vandeweghe (IW, R3)

Coco Vandeweghe

Defending finals points, Jelena Jankovic faces a tricky third rounder against an in-form, CoCo Vandeweghe at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday.

Jankovic won just her 5th match of the season, beating Carina Witthoeft in straight sets on Friday, 6-1 6-3. The Serb has gone on a couple of walkabouts this year, but stayed in the moment and managed to put the match to bed, staving off two break points in a moonball-heavy final game. Witthoeft hadn’t looked impressive despite a first round win over Irina Falconi and while Jankovic is the better player, that’s not always the deciding factor!

Vandeweghe has turned her season around in style; down under, she went 0-3 with losses to Irina Falconi (7-5 4-6 3-6, Auckland), Jelena Jankovic (3-6 4-6, Sydney) and Madison Brengle (3-6 4-6, Australian Open). Since then, Vandeweghe has won five out of seven matches. In an unstable February, Vandeweghe was one of the most consistent players as she won two matches each in Dubai and Doha. This included three top 30 wins over Karolina Pliskova, Kristina Mladenovic and Belinda Bencic. Vandeweghe carried that form into Indian Wells where she has yet to drop serve in wins over Kiki Bertens and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Saturday’s win over Kuznetsova, 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 28 minutes was a particularly impressive performance with the Russian player not having a bad match at all. Vandeweghe needed just one break of serve in the first set, winning that particular game with back-to-back return winners. The pair played two deuce games to open the second set and Vandeweghe won them both. The American player sealed the second break of serve, and the match, with yet another return winner.

Head-to-head record: Jankovic leads Vandeweghe, 3-2 in their head-to-head; Vandeweghe’s two wins came in Stanford (6-4 6-2, 2012) and Montreal (7-6(8) 2-6 7-5, 2014). Jankovic won their last match in the second week of 2016, edging a tight two setter, 6-3 6-4.

Interesting stat: This is the first time in her career that Vandeweghe has reached the third round of Indian Wells.

Final thoughts: Indian Wells is a special place for both players; Jankovic has won the title before and reached the final in 2015, while Vandeweghe has the home support and is comfortable in the surroundings. Vandeweghe has played some very committed matches of late and her serve, a huge weapon when it’s on, has been on the money. Jankovic won their last encounter in Sydney but my guess would be that if Vandeweghe can improve her serving figures from that particular match, she’s got a real shot at producing yet another upset…

Prediction: Vandeweghe d. Jankovic in 3 sets

Photos in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

13 thoughts on “WTA Indian Wells, 3rd Round Previews for Sunday: Halep v Makarova, Jankovic v Vandeweghe

  1. Goodness me most of the Top Ten ranked players currently in the WTA are still playing well below their ranking.JJ usually plays well at IW,these courts suit her game,hopefully she will get through.

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  2. I think the losses so far have been reasonable. I never trusted Sloane at these big tournaments where everyone is hungry to prove something. Genie was always going to be tough, and despite her slight complains of dizziness sometimes, she can be a dogged opponent. Wouldn’t bet on her getting far though.

    Kerber needs time getting her fighting spirit back. The family circle cup might be a good starting place or Porsche, Stuttgart. It’s Caroline I feel for a bit. She is being put through hard 3 set grinders, always coming up short. But Zhang Shuai is a woman reborn these days, playing with a deep belief.

    So far, the ‘needed’ seeds are through so am okay with it. Play has not been stellar, but I can understand that. Today’s matches are so so for me, although I like to see Jelena do well here.

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    • I think Kerber lost in style is acceptable. Unlike Wozniacki acted like a sore loser during the match. Zhang played really well to win from behind. Sloane failed to serve the second set point, what could I say?

      Ivanovic and Giorgi match was very awful. Both struggled to hold serves….! It was very painful to watch these two girls.

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      • Did you actually watch the Ivanovic match or are you making assumptions? Because im watching it now and I see a high level of ultra aggressive style tennis and fabulous hitting from the two, especially on the return.

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      • Dude, what make you think I did not watch the match from the start until the end when the two silly girls couldn’t hold serve and Giorgi missed her MPs? Perhaps you watched from Youtube.

        I know you like Ivanovic and you are blinded by the love. Even an awful match and you think is great. I feel sorry for tennis.

        I actually want to ignore your silly posts sometimes, but I find it very hilarious. God bless you!!

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    • Agree with your assessments, Let’splay. You did say about Sloane! I wasn’t convinced also but wrongly gave her the benefit of the doubt. I’m not worried about Kerber yet, but I am pretty much on the panic button for Woz!

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    • Coco was a joke in this match. Please don’t tell me she played aggressive tennis in this match. By the way, I wanted to tell you I watched this match from the start until the end. She lost in 2 and got a bagel in the first set. Have you bet on it – Coco in 3?

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  3. The pressure is SURREAL when predicting WTA matches involving seeds these days…
    1R (All seeds had a bye into 2R) : 26-6 , FANCY (when was the last time I did this well in predictions?)!
    2R (Goes swearing) : 15-17 , PEAK WTA (have a nice day)!

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  4. What is this.I slept when Woz was a break up in 3rd set.Both players were playing awful but i never expected this.I guess Woz is more concentrating on body painting for glam magzines to make an alternate carrer.

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  5. Evidence from her first match that Simona might be getting her mojo back. She was hitting the ball very well and her backhand (MIA, recently) was in very good working order. Hopefully, a smooth run to at least the QF for her this week.

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