While the battle of the Grand Slam champions, aka Serena Williams vs Garbine Muguruza is definitely the highlight of the matches on Sunday (read match preview here), some of the matches on the other courts deserve some attention too and the night session match on Stadium 2, Elina Svitolina vs Daria Gavrilova is definitely deserving of it. It should be a fun battle between two fighters; who will book the fourth round ticket? Read on for the preview…
 Elina Svitolina (No.6) vs Daria Gavrilova (No.53)
Both Elina Svitolina and Daria Gavrilova broke through onto the WTA circuit around the same time, but their respective forms couldn’t be any different right now with 47 spots separating them in the world rankings. Both players can be labelled as counter-punchers, but Svitolina definitely has the more consistent and solid game which is the reason for her much higher ranking. Elina though seems to be working with her coach on coming forward more often and it worked out for her this week in a 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin. Everything was on Kenin’s side in the first set but slowly and surely, Svitolina started to play with more aggressive intent in the second set. There was one point where Svitolina couldn’t miss anything up at the net! She was able to fend off Kenin’s aggressive attacks more constantly and was really able to get in the head of the young American. Svitolina though turned passive when up 4-1 in the third set (reminiscent of her Doha match against Halep) but capitalised on some mistakes from Kenin to eventually secure the match. Overall, a very good win for Elina who played much more aggressively than she did in Australia, but it doesn’t get easier against Gavrilova who has caused her some issues in the past.
Have your hands up if you thought Daria Gavrilova would still be in the tournament before the start of the event. If you’re raising your hand right now, I totally don’t believe you! Gavrilova came into Indian Wells off a seven-match losing streak and it seemed it would extend even further when she drew the in-form Dayana Yastremska in the first round. It seemed even more unlikely when she blew a chance to serve out the match in the second set and Yastremska forced the match into a decider. Gavrilova’s relentless scrapping and fighting spirit managed to shine through this time round though as she recorded her first win of the season. Another hard-earned victory was to come as Gavrilova moved past Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round. The serving woes seemed to dissipate against Buzarnescu, only hitting one(!!!!) double fault throughout the entire match, but the question is, can she keep that good form going?
Head to head: Svitolina leads the head to head 5-2, with the Ukrainian winning their last four encounters, including a 4-6 6-0 6-1 in their most recent match in Miami last year.
Thoughts: Both players are such gritty fighters which always mean that their encounters will end up in a lot of long drawn rallies. While Gavrilova can definitely be a tough opponent with her loopy balls and awesome defensive skills, so long if Svitolina accurately plays out an aggressive game plan and not get into too many long rallies, I think the World No.6 will get this one in two tight sets.
Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Daria Gavrilova in two sets
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Indian Wells predictions here or at the top of the page!