Serena Williams (USA #1) vs (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3)
- Serena resumes desert domination.
Serena Williams has cruised through the draw this fortnight – she is the only player yet to drop a set – to improve her win-loss record at Indian Wells to 22-1 (.957). This winning percentage is second only to the great Martina Navratilova (Minimum of five matches played at tournament):
- Martina Navratilova 10-0 (1.000)
- Serena Williams 22-1 (.957)
- Steffi Graf 17-2 (.895)
- Kim Clijsters 24-5 (.828)
No player has won the title at Indian Wells more than two times. Serena is one of eight players to lift the title in Indian Wells twice (1999, 2001) and is attempting to add it to an impressive list of titles she has won on three or more occasions:
- Eight – Miami
- Six – Australian Open, US Open, Wimbledon
- Five – WTA Finals
- Three – Charleston, Roland Garros, Rome, Stanford, Toronto
Agnieszka Radwanska will move to No.2 in the WTA Rankings on Monday. It will be her eighth week at No.2 having previously held this career-best ranking in July and August of 2012.
A runner-up finish at Wimbledon propelled Radwanska’s previous ascent to the No.2 spot. Denying her the title in a three-set thriller was Serena, who has dominated their rivalry ever since. In fact, the Pole’s solitary set in their nine meetings came that afternoon at the All England Club.
Since losing to Madison Keys in the third round of the US Open, no player on tour has won more matches than Radwanska. During that time she has posted a 34-6 record (Angelique Kerber is next with 25 wins), reaching the semifinals or better at eight of her previous nine tournaments and going on to lift the trophy four times.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR #15) vs (18) Karolina Pliskova (CZE #19)
- Happy memories for Azarenka.
- Top 10 beckons.
- Pliskova no longer a flat track bully.
- Semifinal specialist.
- Long wait for a Czech finalist.
The last occasion Victoria Azarenka made the last four at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden she was in the midst of the most purple of purple patches. Rewind four years and Azarenka was busy compiling what would become the best start to a season since 1997, defeating Kerber and Maria Sharapova to add the Indian Wells trophy to the ones already picked up at Sydney, the Australian Open and Doha.
Should Azarenka head for Miami on Sunday evening with the trophy in her suitcase, she will return to the Top 10 (at No.8) for the first time since August 2014. If she reaches the final she will rise to No.11 and No.13 should she fall in the semifinals.
It is no secret that Karolina Pliskova has long been frustrated by her inability to make an impression at tennis’ flagship events. Prior to this fortnight, her best showing at a Grand Slam or Premier Mandatory tournament was a quarterfinal run last year in Miami.
While Azarenka may lord it over her in terms of big-match experience, Pliskova can draw confidence from her fine record at the business end of tournaments; of the 15 semifinals she has contested, she has come out on the winning side 12 times.
Should she make it 13 on Friday, Pliskova will become the first Czech finalist at the tournament since Helena Sukova in 1990. On that occasion Sukova lost out to former compatriot Navratilova (Martinaa was born in Czechoslovakia but became a US citizen in 1981).