Monday’s Set Points, Indian Wells 2019 Day 6: Kerber & Sabalenka all set for first career meeting

The last 16 is ready to go for Tuesday at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. This post reviews some of the matches from Monday’s schedule including third round victories for Angelique Kerber, Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit. There are some thoughts about the last 16 matches at the end of this post. Read on for 5 stories in Monday Set Points…

Kontaveit’s best result in Indian Wells

Anett Kontaveit is into the last 16 of Indian Wells for the first time in her career after Anastasija Sevastova was forced to retired with a viral illness. Kontaveit was leading 5-0 in the opener when Sevastova decided to call it a day. I had wondered what was going as Sevastova was extremely passive, allowing Kontaveit to dictate the majority of points. Kontaveit moves forward to a fourth round date with Karolina Pliskova.

Kerber through in three

Angelique Kerber recovered from a slow start to beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva in three sets, 3-6 6-1 6-3. It is wonderful to watch Vikhlyantseva in full flow and she was clearly feeding off the confidence of four straight set wins in the desert as she dominated early doors against a very passive and subdued, Kerber.

The match swung early in the second set when Vikhlyantseva was unable to convert on two break points at 6-3 1-1. With that hold of serve, Kerber began to improve and hit with much more conviction. Errors began to creep into Vikhlyantseva’s game as her belief seemed to wane – she is such a confidence player! Vikhlyantseva was bothered by a leg injury towards the end of the match. While she tried to stay aggressive, the Russian player fell away on serve and hit too many unforced errors, 52 in total. Not a vintage performance from Kerber by any means but it was nice to see her fight back in the second set.

Sabalenka eventually closes out Tsurenko

Aryna Sabalenka needed two bites of the cherry to see off a mostly lacklustre, Lesia Tsurenko, 6-2 7-5. Sabalenka was inconsistent during this match but served better than Tsurenko and controlled the match with flashes of dynamic power. Sabalenka was unable to serve out the match at the first time of asking at *5-4 in the second set. The Belarusian didn’t panic and raised her level at 5-5 to win the final two games of the match. A good result for Sabalenka and her best completed win of the year so far. Next up is Angie (more about that match-up below).

Andreescu’s press conference

Nice to hear from Bianca Andreescu who is creating waves on the WTA tour in 2019.

4th round previews

Indian Wells’s version of Manic Monday (Thrilling Tuesday?) will see all fourth round matches played on the same day. Read on for thoughts about six of the matches.

Anett Kontaveit vs. Karolina Pliskova: In their only previous meeting, Pliskova beat Kontaveit in straight sets in Stuttgart last year, 6-4 6-2. I do like Kontaveit’s game and attitude but i’d be surprised if she has the patience to outlast Pliskova.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Angelique Kerber: Probably the stand-out match from this slate of last 16 clashes. The pair have never played each other before which makes it all the more exciting. I generally love the match-up of Kerber going up against a big hitter so hoping this will be a belter! Sabalenka’s playing at a reasonable level, definitely not with the same confidence she ended 2019. Kerber started slow against Vikhlyantseva but showed some fight to come back. Instinct is Kerber will favour this match-up with her ability to absorb and redirect power. Despite reaching this stage, i’m still questioning Sabalenka’s form and confidence. Fascinated to see how the match unfold…

Kiki Bertens vs. Garbiñe Muguruza: I think that Muguruza has been much more consistent so far this year. While she did notch up a retirement win against an under-the-weather, Serena, the Spaniard was comprehensively beaten in the other three matches she played against top ten players. I would go for Bertens in this match because she has been so solid this year, both physically and mentally.

Wang Qiang vs. Bianca Andreescu: A great opportunity for both players. Andreescu’s start to the year has been stunning! I’d been impressed with the fleeting glimpses i’d seen of Andreescu before 2019 but I can’t say she was on my radar at the start of the year. On the fence with this one… i’d probably take a risk and go for Andreescu who seems to be soaring high with confidence right now.

Elina Svitolina vs. Ash Barty: This has famously been a tricky match-up for Barty with Svitolina winning all four previous encounters. Barty is becoming so consistent on tour and should be in the top ten soon. While she has made notable improvements already this year, i’d be surprised if she can upset Svitolina in these conditions. Elina was my champ at the start of the week and i’m sticking with it after being very impressed by three set win over Sofia Kenin – that was a terrific match!

Marketa Vondrousova vs. Simona Halep: Vondrousova has defended her last 16 points from last year which is a superb achievement. I like watching Vondrousova play and if she can stay healthy, we’ll be hearing a lot more about her this year. I wasn’t that convinced by Halep’s third round win over Kozlova, but not really feeling the upset vibes with this one.

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7 thoughts on “Monday’s Set Points, Indian Wells 2019 Day 6: Kerber & Sabalenka all set for first career meeting

  1. Thoughts on Osaka v Bencic? Both players seem to be playing at a high level right now. I do think the court favours Naomi though. BB has never had her best results on slower courts because she doesn’t quite have the power to make up for her movement.

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    • I haven’t watched any of their matches this week so a bit clueless. Feel like it could be a great match? Definitely give Bencic a shot at least at the upset.

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      • I mean, if Osaka plays like she did yesterday then I don’t think Bencic even has a shot. Naomi serves better than Belinda, she hits with more power and she defends better. What’s been impressive this week is her eagerness to use a wider variety of shots and tactics. She’s coming into the net more, shes playing with spins, she’s hitting slice and drop shots. Right now I fancy her to defend her title.

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      • Oh really! I’m kind of sad that both Osaka-Bencic and Kerber-Sabalenka are late because those are the two matches I most wanted to see.

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  2. @James, I feel you may be comprehensively wrong on the Muguruza/Bertens outcome more from the fact that it would seem you were duped into believing the she beat an under-the-weather Serena. I watched that match and feel Serena knew that Muguruza was playing at a very high standard and knew it would be hard clawing the deficit back and took the easy way out. How does Serena just disintegrate from a dominant aggressive groaning baseliner to a person whose body temperature needs to be suddenly taken? I wont be easily derailed in my thoughts. Muguruza looks like being on her way to her best. I think she slips under the radar takes out Bertens in style and then go in search of the pretenders and possible the title

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    • I don’t agree about Serena. I watched that match too and she was clearly struggling to catch her breath midway through the first set. I said in the daily post after that match that it was hard to gauge Muguruza’s level but she did seem to be hitting the ball very well. I don’t think Bertens is to be discounted based on her form so far this year and how solid she was vs. Konta.

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    • What utter tripe. Serena was breathing heavy when she was up 30. She kept clutching at her upper left thigh. She wasn’t even moving to shots. That isn’t taking anything away from Muguruza- credit to her for quickly realising a way of taking control of the match and executing it perfectly.

      I don’t see how anybody who has watched Serena play tennis can genuinely believe she would take injury to get out of losing. This is just another ridiculous example of unfair double standards when it comes to Serena, who, can I just add, has retired from less matches in her 20+ year career than Muguruza has.

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