2019 Indian Wells WTA Semifinal Preview: Belinda Bencic vs Angelique Kerber

The second semifinal, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will feature the three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber taking on the in-form Belinda Bencic. Just like the first semifinal between Andreescu and Svitolina (see preview here), both players has had contrasting routes to this stage – Bencic has only dropped one set this fortnight, while Kerber has had to face some tough opposition so far. Who will make it to their first final in Indian Wells? Read on for the preview…

Indian Wells, Semifinal

Image result for kerber indian wells

[23] Belinda Bencic (No.23) vs [8] Angelique Kerber (No.8)

It’s amazing what confidence can do to a player; in the beginning of the year Belinda Bencic was ranked No.55, and while she reached the semifinals of Hobart and the third round of the Australian Open, she was definitely still lacking a spark in her game and was miles away from her stunning level during the 2015-2016 days. The turning point of Bencic’s season was her third round match in Dubai against Aryna Sabalenka, where she saved six match points to edge past the Belarusian in a match tiebreaker. Since then the Swiss player has beaten Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova in the space of three weeks… just wow! Bencic’s returning has been simply stellar and she’s able to redirect the pace off the serves of the top servers so well. Kerber is a different player from Bencic’s previous opponents this fortnight but with her confidence so high, Bencic definitely should be able to adjust to Kerber’s game pretty quickly.

‘Rollercoaster’ is the right word to describe Angelique Kerber’s 2019 season and Indian Wells campaign this year. Kerber’s level has fluctuated from good to bad throughout the Australian and Middle East swings, and this has been the case in the California desert where she dismantled Yulia Putintseva, yet struggled but fought past Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Aryna Sabalenka. Kerber though regained her form against Venus Williams in a tight two setter. Venus played with interesting tactics, opting for topspin, moonballs and little pace shots to disturb Angelique’s rhythm, and it worked for some time as Kerber couldn’t redirect pace and went with more passive play. Down 2-4, Kerber slowly but surely worked her way into the match, hitting more aggressively with Venus trying to go for the lines but missing more often than not. Venus wasn’t moving well in the first set but it was worse in the second set, with Kerber successfully moving Williams from side to side with just one break eventually deciding the course of the match. A good win for Kerber who amassed numbers of 29 winners and 12 unforced errors, hitting just one(!!!!) forehand unforced error throughout the match.

Head to head: Bencic leads the head to head 3-1, but Kerber won their previous meeting 6-3 7-6(5) at Wimbledon. Kerber served great and played aggressively to record her first win over Bencic.

Thoughts: Bencic’s so assured with her game right now and something she’ll definitely do in this match is to attack Kerber’s vulnerable serve. Kerber’s lefty serve obviously goes into Bencic’s stronger backhand wing thus the return of Bencic is going to be a key factor of who gets this match. Both players will need to play aggressively and try to take time away from each other. With Kerber’s level constantly dipping and rising this year, I’m going for Bencic to continue rolling on and record her 13th straight match win.

Final Prediction: Belinda Bencic d. Angelique Kerber in three sets

Thanks for reading! Please check out my Indian Wells predictions here or at the top of the page!

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