Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells: Halep vs. Osaka for a place in the final

The first two quarter-finals of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open were played on a windyyy day in Indian Wells. This Set Points features a detailed recap of the first quarter-final and catches up with a few things missed from a manic Tuesday including highlights of Wozniacki-Kasatkina. There’s a pair of snap previews for tomorrow’s quarter-finals at the end. Read on for 8 stories on day 9 of WTA main draw action.

Halep 18-1 for the year

Simona Halep uttered the words “refuse to lose” in her post-match interview. This sums up her 2018 season pretty well as she advanced to her fourth semi-final (out of four) in Indian Wells. She has done it the hard way in Indian Wells. In this quarter-final match, Halep battled back from 1-3 down in the third set to defeat Petra Martic, 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 in a compelling clash.

Halep made the brighter start to the match and handled the wind better to win the opener. Martic alternated between spells of aggressive and passive play. In a second set tiebreak she went with the former game plan to force the decider. At the same time, Halep became increasingly frustrated and made a few tactical errors in the wind-swept conditions. She had a pair of tense changeover chats with Darren Cahill.

Into a third set and Halep was rushing. Cahill pleaded with her to trust the backhand. From 1-3 down, Halep began to calm down. It was yet another impressive mental turnaround because I think Halep would have lost this third set a few years ago. To be honest, I thought she was gone at 1-3. Halep began to hit with more purpose, got the break back, and then to lead, and played arguably her best game of the match to win it with a trio of forceful winners.

Props to Martic for a great week. She pushed the world number one hard and had her on the ropes. Martic had most success dictating with her forehand. She had her chances here but didn’t quite bring the aggressive gameplan consistently when she was in the winning position in the third set

Halep and Cahill

Halep called for Cahill on court twice, at the end of the second set and after three games of the third set. I questioned why she did this because she gave him absolutely nothing and then jumped up before time was called! I did wonder at the time if it may affect their coaching relationship after what happened in Miami last year. Halep explained in her press conference that she was frustrated at the wind and called Darren to calm her down. It took a few games but Simona did calm down eventually to score a sixth three set win of 2018.

While I was sleeping…

Naomi Osaka broke new ground by becoming the first Japanese player to reach the semi-finals of Indian Wells after a 6-2 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova. I’m so thrilled to see Naomi putting everything together for her best run at a big tournament.

Kasatkina’s 4th round win over Wozniacki

I watched back Wozniacki-Kasatkina on Wednesday after missing it last night when I was sleeping. I hadn’t quite realised what a great start Wozniacki made to the match. Wozniacki had two break points for a 4-0 lead. That’s where Kasatkina kicked into gear with a crafty drop shot setting up a winner, followed by a forehand winner. Kasatkina reeled off five straight games, eventually serving out the set to 15. The second set was similar in that Kasatkina also came back from a deficit, winning the last four games of the match. I’ve seen Dasha struggle at closing out so many sets so this was very encouraging to see.

I was impressed how Kasatkina didn’t look panicked when Wozniacki was playing well and ahead on the scoreboard. I loved how she moved the ball around the court, using her top spin forehand and backhand slice. And of course the jumping backhands which were all glorious 😍. It’s good to see Dasha playing with so much confidence.

Osaka’s press conferences

Naomi Osaka is always entertaining in press. If you’ve got 14 minutes spare then go for it! She talks about her match against Maria Sakkari and video games.

Monica Niculescu is a delight

I couldn’t recommend enough to listen to the latest edition of the WTA Insider podcast with Monica Niculescu. She talks about her game, how to hit a slice (good tips that i’ll take for my own tennis game 😂) and what she looks for in a doubles partner.

QF Previews for Thursday

Venus Williams vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: This will be the ninth time that Venus and Carla have played on the tour. Their last match at the US Open went the distance with Venus winning, 6-3 3-6 6-1. My one memory from that match was one of the best points of the year in the decider (linked below). I’ve not had the opportunity to watch any of their matches so i’m not in the best position to make a pick! I’m going with Venus.

Angelique Kerber vs. Daria Kasatkina: Bring it on. The pair are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head and all of their matches have been on hard courts. I’m especially excited about this one because I think they both come into the match in superb form. It’s a tricky one to call with the head-to-head favouring the in-form player – they are both in form this time! My first instinct was Kerber. The more I think I about it, the more I like Kasatkina’s chances in these almost clay like conditions with the ball getting up high. Her top spin forehand was potent against Wozniacki.

QF Polls and SF Poll

A selection of polls to share your opinion on the next set of matches from Indian Wells.

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10 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Indian Wells: Halep vs. Osaka for a place in the final

  1. Halep has been really impressive as world number one this year! Considering her nerves in getting there in the first place, her fight and mental strength has been Serena or Sharapova like.
    She’s had a couple tough, long matches this week though and that may catch up with her soon. Whether it be in this tournament or in Miami.

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    • Agreed, i’ve been very impressed with Simona this year. She’s made life hard for herself at times but been battling hard for the wins. I hope she wins a Slam this year. It would be a special moment.

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      • I’m impressed with Halep’s ability to tough these wins out, but it’s qualified by the fact she really isn’t coming up against anyone of any great pedigree. I would expect the world number 1 to be getting through these matches, and I expect Halep to come unstuck against Osaka.

        I have been more impressed by Kasatkina this week, whom I think will be a top 10 player in the near future. Her focus has been fantastic and her topspin forehand, variety and athleticism are wonderful to watch in action, not to mention her attitude. I thought she was down and out after half an hour against Wozniaki, but she really turned things around. I don’t know if she can will get past Kerber or not, but she’s certainly got a decent shot.

        As does Suarez Navarro. She was totally off my radar until this week, and I’m now somehow tipping her for the title (ludicrous I know!). She seems to love these conditions and has been stepping in and setting herself for her shots so well. I see her getting past Venus 2-0. But I of course won’t be remotely surprised to see my WTA expectations go up in smoke!!

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      • Nice to hear from you, createdsick. I’m undecided on Halep-Osaka, I think Simona will improve from her QF match. Agree with everything about Kasatkina. I’m excited about Kerber-Kasatkina and hoping Dasha can get the win.

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  2. I think it’s mainly Naomi’s honesty for an introspective and thoughtful personality that makes her interviews interesting.

    At first glance(of the draw) last week, I reckoned the eventual champion coming from the top half. I haven’t seen many full matches, but not that much surprised with Halep in the semis. Osaka has been fairly contained with her power and is pretty much focused in her play. But, I feel a confident Osaka can deal with players like Sharapova and Pliskova better than the Haleps on the the tour. A determined play from Halep is always difficult to overcome.

    Just throwing out some possibilities Osaka v CSN , I’ll pick CSN, Osaka v Kasatkina, I’ll favour Daria’s grind. Should Kasatkina face Halep, I think Halep’s fight may just win her the day.
    I do know Naomi has the utmost appreciation for the play of Venus and Serena. If playing Venus in the desert final doesn’t rile up her nervous energy, I think she’ll be able to outlast her.

    Particularly this year, some of the on court coaching has been really helping the women along in tournaments like these. This makes it slightly difficult to really predict their upcoming slam performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SUÁREZ will win.
    She’s returning great seems really pumped up.
    Venus too many double faults and I think her return game is not as good.
    GO Suárez!!!!!

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  4. I loved how Venus played today; she seemed incredibly positive and willing to play with controlled aggression. Her next match vs. Kasatkina has me both excited and nervous!

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  5. Kerber looked like the Queen of the Ball against Garcia, but then against Kasatkina she transformed herself into Cinderella.

    Ziggy2shus: I have made a long and intensive scientific study of why the top seeds in the Indian Wells do so poorly. The huge San Andreas earthquake fault line passes right through the Indian Wells and Palm Springs area. The earthquake fault line builds up a massive amount of energy before slipping and causing a major earthquake. The massive energy buildup seeds out high energy electromagnetic waves which disrupts the ions in the heads of the top seeds causing them to lose.
    Question: Why do the lower seeds not suffer from the same problem?
    Ziggy2shus: ….errrr..well..That should be intuitively obvious!

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