This post covers two all-seeded third round matches at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells for Monday; Ana Ivanovic against Karolina Pliskova and Roberta Vinci playing Elina Svitolina. For a round-up of all the action from the women’s bottom half on Saturday, click HERE.
1. Ana Ivanovic v Karolina Pliskova (IW, R3)
Ana Ivanovic will be seeking her first ever win over Karolina Pliskova when the pair meet in the third round of Indian Wells on Monday.
Ivanovic was one of four players on Saturday to win having saved match points; the Serb maintained a 100% winning record against Camila Giorgi but only just. She saved two match points, squeaking past the Italian for a 2-6 6-2 7-6(5) victory. Ivanovic was three times up a break in the decider before Giorgi got ahead on serve. The Italian player was hitting big; it’s awesome to see Giorgi in full flow and it really takes something special to put Ivanovic on the back foot.
The Serb did a good job at staying in the moment and not getting freaked out by all the winners flying past her. With such an aggressive game, naturally errors will come and the match points were more about Giorgi than Ivanovic. Giorgi showed a few signs of nerves in the final set tiebreak with Ivanovic doing just enough to stay alive in the tournament.
Pliskova arrived in the desert having lost her last three sets for the scoreline, 6-1. The Czech player had thrown in a pair of listless performances against CoCo Vandeweghe (6-7 1-6, Dubai) and Margarita Gasparyan (1-6 1-6, Doha). Pliskova has blown hot and cold for a while now as she competed so well in Fed Cup action before Dubai-Doha, helping the Czech Republic to a 3-2 victory by virtue of two singles wins and pairing up with Barbora Strycova in the decisive doubles rubber. After a lengthy break from the tour, particularly for Pliskova who normally plays a heavy schedule, she returned in Indian Wells with a much-needed win; she defeated Shelby Rogers, 6-2 6-4 and wasn’t broken once in the 64-minute contest.
Head-to-head record: Pliskova leads Ivanovic in the head-to-head, 3-0, with victories in New York (7-5 6-4, 2014), Dubai (6-2 4-6 6-4, 2015) and Sydney (6-4 6-2, 2016).
Final thoughts: This match will come down to the serve; if Ivanovic is to bag a win, she needs to serve well or at least rely on Pliskova to have a bit of an off day. When they last played in Sydney, Pliskova was on the money, taking control from the baseline and serving big. Ivanovic has a few match-ups on tour that she really struggles in; the other one that springs to mind is against Caroline Garcia. I think it will take a very gutsy effort from the Serb to snap the losing streak but she did show her fighting spirit against Giorgi. I’d give the nod to Pliskova though…
2. Roberta Vinci v Elina Svitolina (IW, R3)
Roberta Vinci and Elina Svitolina both mounted superb comebacks in their second round matches to keep their hopes alive at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Vinci saved two match points in a wonderfully wild second round match against Margarita Gasparyan, battling through, 6-3 6-7(7) 7-6(5). Vinci had a match point in the second set tiebreak, having stared down five set points of her own at one point. The Italian player then recovered from 0-4* down in the decider and saved match points at 4-5*. Gasparyan played some stunning points but tired towards the end as Vinci, the more stable player, attacked with her forehand and tried to come forward at every available opportunity. Vinci has begun to assert herself this year as one of the toughest players to beat on the WTA tour.
The same could be said for Elina Svitolina who looked down and out at one stage in her second round match against Annika Beck. Svitolina was down 4-6 2-5, but fought back to win. Svitolina can be frustrating to watch at times with her passive nature, but she earns full marks for her ability to scrap and never give in. After coming within two points of defeat to force a second set tiebreak, Svitolina won 33 (!) of the last 41 points to seal a 4-6 7-6(0) 6-1 victory. The slow start could be attributed to a taxing week in Kuala Lumpur where she won the title against Eugenie Bouchard in a gruelling three set final.
Head-to-head record: Vinci and Svitolina are all-square at 1-1 in their head-to-head; Vinci won comfortably in Beijing, 6-2 6-2, but Svitolina edged a tight three setter in Paris, 6-3 0-6 7-5 back in 2014.
Final thoughts: Interesting match-up… Vinci would be the clear favourite in match play but I think the surface brings Svitolina up to a reasonably level playing field. Fatigue may be an issue for Svitolina although Vinci did have a marathon second round match herself. A little on the fence but leaning towards Vinci if she can maintain her aggression coming forward on a consistent basis.