2018 Indian Wells WTA: Main Draw Preview

The Sunshine Double is almost upon us as the two most prestigious WTA events aside of the Grand Slams, Indian Wells and Miami, is up next on the WTA calendar. With these two events both Premier Mandatory tournaments, it provides a stellar and packed 96-player field which will definitely include some mouth-watering first and second round clashes. Let’s take a look at the Indian Wells draw which starts in a day or two…

Main Draw

First quarter’s seeds

[1] Simona Halep (No.1)

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Player profile: Halep heads into Indian Wells as the No.1 player in the world after a stellar run to the Doha semifinals where she unfortunately had to withdraw with a right foot injury. Halep had previously mentioned that her participation in Indian Wells was unsure, but she has posted photos of herself practicing in Las Vegas so she’s probably fit and healthy for the upcoming Sunshine Double. Halep has won the title in Indian Wells before, in 2015, and with the tennis she’s been playing in 2018 thus far, she’s probably my favourite for the title.

Draw projections: The top 32 seeds have a bye, so Simona is safe into the second round where she will play a qualifier or an out-of-sorts Kristyna Pliskova. Halep is seeded to meet Dominika Cibulkova in the third round, then either Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens or Kristina Mladenovic. Overall, seems like a relatively easy draw for Halep if she is completely-injury free.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 17-6 (2015 champion)

[6] Jelena Ostapenko (No.6)

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Player profile: It’s worrying times for Ostapenko and her fans thus far in 2018 – while her weaknesses such as her weak second serve and lack of margin have been covered up by her stunning power and groundstrokes last year, the weaknesses have been more and more prominent so far. The Latvian is currently on a three-match losing streak and hasn’t beaten a top 90 player all year.

Draw projections: Ostapenko kicks off her Indian Wells campaign against either Belinda Bencic or Timea Babos. The No.6 seed could play Barbora Strycova in the third round; all of these players certainly could cause an upset or two and Ostapenko’s form doesn’t suggest she may make it very far in this draw.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 1-1 (2017 2R)

[11] Johanna Konta (No.11)

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Player profile: Konta has had a mostly disappointing year thus far; she has only won six matches out of five tournaments played. Though her form improved in February with a third round appearance in Doha, she ended the month off with a dispiriting loss to Daria Kasatkina, where she missed on three match point opportunities. Time is running out for Konta if she wants to stay in the top 15 of the rankings – she has 1000 points to defend at the Miami Open having took the title last year.

Draw projections: Konta could play the up and coming Marketa Vondrousova for her second round match, then either the powerful Aryna Sabalenka or Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is playing her first tournament since Beijing 2017 after a wrist surgery.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 4-3 (2017 3R)

[15] Kristina Mladenovic (No.15)

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Player profile: Mladenovic seemed to have found her form back after a final run in St.Petersburg and helping France to a 3-2 victory over Belgium in Fed Cup action. However she has lost pretty early in her next three tournaments, to Anna Blinkova in Doha, Naomi Osaka in Dubai and Lesia Tsurenko in Acapulco. Indian Wells is the place where she started her run of form last year; she is defending semifinal points and there will be more tournaments soon that Mladenovic will have to defend a ton of points.

Draw projections: Mladenovic plays Lauren Davis or Samantha Stosur in the second round, before a potential Fed Cup repeat match-up with Elise Mertens. Mladenovic beat Mertens there, 6-4 6-4.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 5-5 (2017 SF)

Other notable players

[19] Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.19)

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Player profile: Kuznetsova will be returning back to the tour since Beijing 2017 where she had to end her season with a wrist injury. Since then, she went through surgery and is now ready to comeback to the tour in Indian Wells, where she made the final here last year, losing in a tight three-setter to Elena Vesnina. You can see her interview here.

Draw projections: Kuznetsova’s first match of the year will be against the youthful Aryna Sabalenka or Varvara Lepchenko. As mentioned above, she is seeded to play Konta in the third round.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 28-14 (2007-2008, 2017 F)

Second quarter’s seeds

[3] Garbine Muguruza (No.3)

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Player profile: The Martinez addition to Muguruza’s team has produced instant results where she bounced back from a shaky Australia swing ,where she only won two matches, to make deep runs in Doha and Dubai, reaching the final and semifinals respectively. While we haven’t seen Muguruza play her best tennis yet this year, she is a confidence player and the wins she gained during the Middle East swing will definitely give her a confidence boost to the rest of the year.

Draw projections: Muguruza will play the winner of Eugenie Bouchard and a qualifier for her first match of the seed. She has a tough draw in the third round, where is set to play either Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sharapova or Naomi Osaka.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 9-5 (2017 QF)

[5] Karolina Pliskova (No.5)

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Player profile: While Pliskova is already up to eight wins this year, there’s a sense that she hasn’t showcased her best tennis at all and error-strewn losses to Cici Bellis and Angelique Kerber in the Middle East proved so. The losses may be a little worrying for Pliskova, but a virus picked up before Fed Cup action a couple of weeks ago could likely be the cause of her lacklustre performances. Wins here will definitely be crucial for Pliskova to gain back her form and confidence.

Draw projections: Pliskova opens her Indian Wells campaign against Irina-Camelia Begu or Aleksandra Krunic. If she gets through that match, No.32 seed Zhang Shuai is her likely third round opponent.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 12-6 (2016-2017 SF)

[9] Petra Kvitova (No.9)

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Player profile: Kvitova was the form player on the tour in February and is currently on a 13-match winning streak, claiming the titles in St.Petersburg and Doha, including capturing two wins in Fed Cup action. When Kvitova’s on fire, no one can beat her, as shown by the players she beat enroute to the titles, such as Julia Goerges, Wozniacki, Svitolina and Muguruza. However the Sunshine Double has always been a difficult stretch of the season for Kvitova – out of 17 appearances in both Indian Wells and Miami, she has never been past the quarterfinal stage. This is largely due to the fact that Kvitova suffers from asthma.

Draw projections: Kvitova’s first match of March will be against Yulia Putintseva or Alison Van Uytvanck. The first seed she could meet is an out-of-sorts Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has only won one match all year and is on a four-match losing streak.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 12-7 (2016, 2013 QF)

[16] Ashleigh Barty (No.16)

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Player profile: Barty chose to skip the Middle East swing and will be playing her first match since the Australian Open, where she lost to Naomi Osaka. Before that, Barty reached the finals of the Sydney International and is looking in fine form in 2018. This is her first time in Indian Wells though and with the special conditions in the desert and having not played for a month, it could be a tough challenge for Barty these two weeks.

Draw projections: Barty will play Donna Vekic or Maria Sakkari for her first ever match in California, and is seeded to meet CoCo Vandeweghe next.

Indian Wells win-loss record: First appearance

Other notable players

[17] CoCo Vandeweghe (No.17)

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Player profile: Vandeweghe has kept her schedule light so far and has only participated in two tournaments – the Australian Open where she lost to Timea Babos, and Fed Cup where she beat Richel Hogenkamp in three sets.

Draw projections: Vandeweghe is set to play a qualifier or Kaia Kanepi for her first match of the week.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 5-11 (2015-2016 3R)

Maria Sharapova (No.41)

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Player profile: Sharapova’s latest venture was in Doha where she fell to the slice and dice Monica Niculescu in three tight sets. Promptly, she withdrew from Dubai afterwards and although she has arrived in Indian Wells, fans are wondering if she is completely healthy as there has been no photos of her practicing thus far. Maria hasn’t been at her best this year and will look to prove the doubters wrong in this prestigious event.

Draw projections: Sharapova has a challenging draw and will play the young Naomi Osaka in round one. The winner of that match will then play Agnieszka Radwanska (sobs, Aga!), then Muguruza in round three. What a section!

Indian Wells win-loss record: 38-11 (2013, 2006 champion)

Third quarter’s seeds

[4] Elina Svitolina (No.4)

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Player profile: After two disappointing losses in the Australian Open and Doha where she fell to Elise Mertens and Petra Kvitova, Svitolina showcased her bounce-back ability once more as she rebounded to capture the Dubai title over Daria Kasatkina. Svitolina has already mastered 14 wins and 2 Premier titles in 2018 but she hasn’t been able to make the step towards Premier Mandatory and Grand Slam tournaments; will Indian Wells be the tournament that Svitolina steps across this barrier?

Draw projections: Svitolina opens against a big hitter in Mona Barthel or Veronica Cepede Royg, and likely Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round. Svitolina looked really good in the Tie Break Tens in New York today and seems set for a good run here.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 8-5 (2017 4R)

[8] Venus Williams (No.8)

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Player profile: Venus has only played two WTA events this year and was both ousted in the first round, by Angelique Kerber in Sydney and Belinda Bencic in the Australian Open. Williams’ level so far has had a huge dip from her 2017 successes and she’ll look to improve before Indian Wells as she’s set to participate in the Tie Break Tens in NYC, alongside sister Serena.

Draw projections: Venus will start against a qualifier or Sorana Cirstea, before a potential third round against sister Serena! (read more below)

Indian Wells win-loss record: 17-5 (2001, 1998 SF)

[12] Julia Goerges (No.12)

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Player profile: The body wasn’t kind to Goerges in Doha a couple of weeks back as the German was forced to retire against Kvitova due to a hip injury. Goerges’ tennis has been on song since Wimbledon in 2017 and I wouldn’t think the hip will disturb Goerges’ campaign in Indian Wells. However it may be the conditions here that will derail her – Goerges has never done well here before with two third round appearances the best she’s ever done in the desert.

Draw projections: Goerges will play Natalia Vikhlyantseva or a qualifier for her first match of the week, and is projected to play Anastasija Sevastova in the third round.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 8-10 (2017, 2011 3R)

[14] Madison Keys (No.14)

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Player profile: Keys has had a strange year thus far – when she’s good, she’s playing REALLY good, showing off her power hitting a couple of times this year (vs Alexandrova in AO, first set against Q.Wang come to mind), however when she’s bad, she’s really bad. Some bad performances have been to Kerber in AO and Bellis in Doha, both counter-punchers that can really frustrate Keys. What’s most important for Keys though is that she’s injury-free this year so far, and whichever tournament she participates in, she’s definitely a dark horse for the title.

Draw projections: The conditions in Indian Wells aren’t exactly favourable for Keys; while she should get past Danielle Collins, she may find it tough against the slice-and-dice Magdalena Rybarikova in the round of 32.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 6-7 (2017 4R)

Other notable players

Serena Williams

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Player profile: Serena will make her competitive return to the WTA tour for singles after participating in the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi (where she lost to Ostapenko in threee sets) and in the Fed Cup doubles (losing with sister Venus in two sets). She participated in the Tie Break Tens in New York today and has looked way quicker round the court and her serve has definitely picked up pace from Abu Dhabi, and was even hitting some aces against Bartoli and Zhang!

Draw projections: This is a decent draw for Serena as she plays Zarina Diyas for her first match since the 2017 Australian Open, then Kiki Bertens in the second round. If she can win her first two matches then there’s a possible sister rematch with Venus next.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 23-3 (2001, 1999 champion)

Fourth quarter’s seeds

[2] Caroline Wozniacki (No.2)


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Player profile: Wozniacki had decent runs in the two tournaments she participated in in February and considering how past No.1s have done badly during their reigns at the top (Kerber, Muguruza come to mind), Wozniacki has already done a good job my making the quarterfinals in St.Petersburg and semifinals in Doha. While she has relinquished her No.1 ranking to Halep after skipping Dubai, she could definitely get it back this week in Indian Wells, a place where she has had success at before.

Draw projections: Wozniacki will likely play Acapulco champion Lesia Tsurenko for her first match, then possibly Anett Kontaveit, who almost beat the Dane in Wimbledon last year.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 30-10 (2011 champion)

[7] Caroline Garcia (No.7)

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Player profile: While Garcia is another top player who hasn’t found her A-level game this year, her ability to come through during the important moments is what has brought her to back-to-back quarterfinals in the Middle East, and the fourth round appearance at the Australian Open. Maybe those confident-boosting wins is what Garcia needs to reset the batteries and produce her best tennis…

Draw projections: First up for Garcia will be either Jennifer Brady or Mihaela Buzarnescu. She is seeded to face the out-of-form Daria Gavrilova in the round of 32.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 5-5 (2017, 2015 4R)

[10] Angelique Kerber (No.10)

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Player profile: Kerber was the most consistent player during the Doha-Dubai double, making back-to-back semifinals there. However both ended in disappointing losses – to Wozniacki in Doha, where in the decider she was leading by a break, and to Svitolina in Dubai, where she had a bad day in the office. Previous appearances in Indian Wells suggest that the German may not do very well here – Kerber has only won four matches in this tournament aside from 2 semifinal runs in 2012 and 2013.

Draw projections: Kerber is set to face Ekaterina Makarova or Kirsten Flipkens in the second round; the former beat Kerber twice last year, including an epic Cincinnati clash where they had a combined 10 match point opportunities. She is on course to face defending champion Elena Vesnina, in a repeat-match up of last year’s Indian Wells fourth round meeting.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 10-9 (2012-2013 SF)

[13] Sloane Stephens (No.13)

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Player profile: Stephens finally snapped her nine-match losing streak in Acapulco where she beat Pauline Parmentier and Aranxta Rus to reach the quarterfinals, but fell to the eventual finalist Stefanie Voegele there. Wins are wins but Stephens still hasn’t played her best tennis at all since the US Open triumph.

Draw projections: Stephens’ first match of the tournament will be against the returning, Victoria Azarenka or Heather Watson. She is projected to face Dubai finalist Daria Kasatkina afterwards.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 11-7 (2014 QF)

Other notable players

[24] Elena Vesnina (No.24)

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Player profile: The defending champion, Vesnina, arrives in Indian Wells on a bad streak of form – since winning Indian Wells last year, Vesnina has compiled a 18-25 win-loss record and has only reached a quarterfinal once, which was last week in Dubai. This is a huge week for the Russian as she is set to drop down to No.44 in the rankings if she fails to win a match this week.

Draw projections: Vesnina will play a qualifier or Catherine Bellis for her first match, and as mentioned Kerber, in the third round.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 12-9 (2017 champion)

[WC] Victoria Azarenka (No.204)

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Player profile: Azarenka will be playing her first tournament since Wimbledon 2017 after her well-documented child custody case. Azarenka has gone through a lot in the past couple of months and it will be interesting to see Azarenka’s level in the first rounds and whether she can shake off the rust quickly. All the best, Vika!

Draw projections:  Azarenka’s first match of the year will be against Heather Watson; interestingly, their last match was in Azarenka’s most recent tournament, Wimbledon 2017! If she gets past that one then she gets a shot at US Open champion Stephens.

Indian Wells win-loss record: 29-7 (2016, 2012 champion)

Tentative Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Garbine Muguruza

Indian Wells predictions are coming soon! Thank you for reading! 🙂


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