It’s semifinals day at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and while there has been a barrage of upsets and surprises so far, the semifinal line-up is nonetheless a tantalising prospect. First up on Stadium Court is surprise semifinalist Bianca Andreescu against the World No.6 Elina Svitolina. Will the train of Andreescu continue to roll on, or will Svitolina’s fighting spirit see her through another match? Read on for the preview…
Indian Wells, Semifinal
[WC] Bianca Andreescu (No.60) vs  Elina Svitolina (No.6)
Starting the year ranked No.152, Bianca Andreescu made it to the final of Auckland as a qualifier, reached the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time, claimed the biggest title of her career so far at the Newport Beach 125K, brought Canada to victory against Netherlands in the Fed Cup, reached the semifinals at Acapulco, and now another semifinal run in Indian Wells, the biggest semifinal of her career so far… An incredible three months will see her rise to at least No.37 in the world according the live rankings, and a win here would propel her up the rankings even more. There’s just so much to like about Andreescu’s game. She’s the definition of a complete player with a decent serve, booming forehand and backhand, variety, tactical awareness and very good volley skills. She used all of that to great effect in the quarterfinals here against Garbine Muguruza, where she completely trashed the two-time Grand Slam champion 6-0 6-1. The stats were just amazing – Andreescu dropped just five points on first serve, saved 2/2 break points and hit 16 winners compared to Muguruza’s 6. With that victory she’s improved to 4-2 against top 20 players in her career – can Andreescu make it five with a win against Svitolina?
Andreescu’s been flying through the draw with just one set lost (against Irina-Camelia Begu), but it’s been a completely different story for Elina Svitolina who has been taken to three sets in three of her four matches this fortnight. This has been a rough draw for Svitolina – Sofia Kenin, Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty and Marketa Vondrousova… all young and very talented players. Svitolina’s matches in Indian Wells have all been rollercoasters and her second round match against Kenin is one of the highlights of the tournament so far. Kenin raced out of the blocks to take the first set 6-3, with Svitolina looking passive and frustrated with how well Kenin was playing. Svitolina changed up her tactics and started coming forward successfully, which prompted Kenin to raise her level even further and there were a huge number of tactical and physical rallies during the match. Physical tactics were the theme for her next three matches, especially against Barty where she needed three hours and 12 minutes to rally past the tricky Australian. Vondrousova in the quarters wasn’t easy either. It’s been really exciting to see Svitolina coming to the forecourt and trying to hit more volleys this fortnight. The tactic has really paid off and it’s definitely something that the Ukrainian has been working on with her coach Andrew Bettles.
Head to head: Unsurprisingly, this is a first time match-up between Andreescu and Svitolina.
Thoughts: Both Andreescu and Svitolina will need to play their game as they have done all tournament – Andreescu will have to find a way to hit through Svitolina with her booming strikes and touches of variety, while Svitolina will need to take time away from Andreescu by coming forward and continue her great defensive work from the baseline. The latter might be a little tricky considering Svitolina’s time taken on the court – Elina has been on court for nine and a half hours(!!!!), while Andreescu, having played one more match than Svitolina has only spent a little more than seven hours on court! Elina’s battle will be against fatigue, while Bianca’s battle will be against nerves. There hasn’t been any signs of nerves this year but she will be playing in her biggest match of her career so far and there’s definitely bound to be some nerves.
Close to 50-50 for this one. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Andreescu power past a tired and fatigued Svitolina, but eventually heading towards Svitolina’s fighting abilities to help her get past through one more opponent in a huge battle.
Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Bianca Andreescu in three sets
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Indian Wells predictions here or at the top of the page!