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.