Indian Wells | BNP Paribas Open WTA 1000 Preview

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There are remaining doubts as to Emma Raducanu’s fitness after the British No 1 has struggled over the past two weeks with a hip injury that forced to pull out of the Monterrey Open last week, although she is practising out in California this week and appears hopeful of competing at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week.

The 19-year-old US Open champion has played only 4 matches this year, having made first-round exits in Sydney and Guadalajara, while she reached the second round of the Australian Open.

While she has received a bye in the main draw, which starts on Wednesday, Raducanu has been handed a tricky main draw debut match in the desert, as she will face either the in-form Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, wild-carded into the draw after her run to the Lyon final, or French veteran Caroline Garcia, a semi-finalist in her hometown, first.

Indian Wells is considered by many as the 5th Grand Slam, and attracts a top class field, with the majority of the women’s world top 10 set to battle for the title, although World No 1 Ash Barty is notably absent, the Australian having withdrawn her entry last week after announcing that she is not at a level necessary to win tournaments.

“I wanted to share an update on my schedule for the coming months,” Barty said in a statement “Unfortunately my body has not recovered the way I’d hoped after the Australian Open, and I have not been able to adequately prepare for Indian Wells and Miami.

“I don’t believe I am at the level necessary to win these events, and as a result I have decided to withdraw from both tournaments.

“I love these events, and am sad not to be there, competing, but getting my body right must be my focus.”

Barty added that she aims to be back in action in time to compete with the Australian team in the qualifying round for the Billie Jean King Cup the week of April 11-17.

Danielle Collins, the World No 11 from the USA, is also absent due to ongoing injury so, with the best player and most recent Grand Slam winner missing, many in the Top 20 will be eyeing the spoils and fancying their chances.

 

Paula Badosa is the defending champion in the desert, having defeated Victoria Azarenka in the final in October

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Defending champion Paula Badosa, who clinched the title in October after the tournament was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be hoping to hang on to the trophy, although the World No 7 from Spain has been inconsistent this year, winning the Sydney International and progressing to the round of 16 at the Australian Open in January, but struggling since.

Raducanu is seeded 11th for the WTA 1000 event, and finds herself in top quarter of the main draw, where World No 2 Barbora Krejcikova leads the field as No 1 seed, and sees fellow Czech and 8th-ranked Karolina Pliskova return to competition for the first time in 2022.

Pliskova has been sidelined with a hand injury since the pre-season and is seeded No 7 in Indian Wells.

Krejcikova will open against either a qualifier or Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the 2nd round, while Pliskova will face either Danka Kovinic or last year’s Cincinnati finalist, Jil Teichmann.

As well as Raducanu, Krejcikova’s quarter also features 2015 champion Simona Halep from Romania, and American teenager Coco Gauff, who will be celebrating her 18th birthday during the tournament.

Halep opens against either Ekaterina Alexandrova or 18-year-old American wild-card Elvina Kalieva, while Gauff will face either her compatriot Claire Liu or a qualifier.

Halep and Gauff could face each other in the 3rd round, which would be their first meeting since 2019 Wimbledon.

Should Raducanu reach the 3rd round at Indian Wells, then she will face the winner of the clash between 19th seed Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia and Hungary’s Anna Bondar or Croatia’s Petra Matric, while Pliskova is the other danger woman in the section.

The winner of Section 2 is likely to face top seed Barbora Krejcikova in the quarter-final, although the French Open champion has former World No 1 Halep or Gauff to deal with first.

 

Iga Swiatek won the last WTA 1000 in Doha and comes into Indian Wells as a firm favourite for the title

© Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images

Iga Swiatek, the World No 4 and former Roland Garros champion, anchors the second quarter of the draw along with WTA Finals champion Garbiñe Muguruza from Spain, the 8th seed.

The Pole, who kicked off the WTA 1000 season with a strong victory at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha, where she captured the biggest hard-court title of her career, opens her campaign against either France’s Clara Burel or Anhelina Kalinina.

Muguruza will face either American Alison Riske or a qualifier in the 2nd round, and could face Australian Open semi-finalist Madison Keys, another American, in the 3rd round.

Swiatek could be headed for an enticing match-up against Danish teenager Clara Tauson in the 3rd round.

The big-hitting 19-year-old is seeded 29 and will face either 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin from the USA or Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in round two.

In the last section of the top half of the draw, Daria Kasatkina, the 29th seed, and Germany’s Angelique Kerber could face each other for the 10th time in the 3rd round.

Both women have been runners-up at Indian Wells, Kasatkina in 2018, and Kerber in 2019.

Kasatkina opens against either Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus or America’s Katie Volynets, while 15th-seeded Kerber could face rising Chinese teen Zheng Qinwen or Vera Zvonareva.

 

In the absence of World No 1 Ash Barty, Barbora Krejcikova is the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

The bottom half of the draw sees Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the No 4 seed, anchor the first quarter, with Badosa, seeded 5, alongside.

The Estonian World No 5 was one match shy from going undefeated in February, having run off 9 consecutive wins to win the title in St. Petersburg and making her first WTA 1000 final since 2018 Wuhan, losing to Swiatek in the Doha final.

Kontaveit will look to continue her run of form when she opens against either Elena Gabriela Ruse of Romania or Kristina Kucova from Slovakia.

A blockbuster first-round match-up between unseeded 2018 champion Naomi Osaka and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens is the big feature of this quarter, with the Japanese former World No 1 playing her first tournament since the Australian Open and making her return to Indian Wells for the first time since 2019, while the American comes into the tournament on the heels of winning Guadalajara, her first title since 2018 Miami.

Stephens has won their two prior meetings, but this will be their first showdown since the 2018 WTA Finals, which the American won in 3 sets. The winner will face No 21 seed Veronika Kudermetova.

After becoming the first Spanish woman to win Indian Wells less than 6 months ago, Badosa returns for her first attempt at a title defence, starting out against either Czech Tereza Martincova or a qualifier, and she could face her friend and compatriot Sara Sorribes Tormo in the 3rd round.

Another potential 3rd-round match-up coming out of this quarter could feature Dubai champion and No 10 Jelena Ostapenko against Monterrey champion and No 18 seed Leylah Fernandez.

Along with Swiatek, Ostapenko leads the tours in wins this season with 14, and was a semi-finalist at Indian Wells last autumn.

The Latvian opens against either American Shelby Rogers or another Spaniard, Nuria Parrizas Diaz, while Fernandez, who saved 5 championship points to win Monterrey on Sunday, will face either Amanda Anisimova or Emma Navarro, both from the USA, in her 2nd-round opener.

World No 2 and 2nd seed Aryna Sabalenka anchors the last quarter of the draw with 6th-seeded Maria Sakkari from Greece.

The other seeds in the quarter include 2021 semi-finalist and No 9 seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova from Czech Republic.

Sabalenka opens against either Italy’s Jasmine Paolini or a qualifier, and the first seed she could face is Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the 3rd round, while Sakkari faces either Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu or Czech Katerina Siniakova in round two, with No 27 seed Kvitova, also a Czech, a potential opponent in the 3rd round.

Play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells begins on Wednesday and action can be viewed live in the UK on Amazon Prime Video.

Potential Round of 16 by seeding:

[1] Barbora Krejcikova vs. [16] Coco Gauff
[11] Emma Raducanu vs. [7] Karolina Pliskova
[3] Iga Swiatek vs. [15] Angelique Kerber
[12] Elina Svitolina vs. [8] Garbiñe Muguruza

[5] Paula Badosa vs. [10] Jelena Ostapenko
[14] Jessica Pegula vs. [4] Anett Kontaveit
[6] Maria Sakkari vs. [9] Ons Jabeur
[13] Victoria Azarenka vs. [2] Aryna Sabalenka

 

Aryna Sabalenka, who lost the semi-finals to Iga Swiatek in Doha, is the No 3 seed at Indian Wells

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

 

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