An all-Chinese match-up is scheduled to take place in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open tomorrow afternoon, as top seed Li Na and world No. 58 Jie Zheng meet for a sixth time on the professional tour. Zheng leads the head-to-head series 3-2, yet has not defeated Li since 2006, while the world No. 2 has won their two most recent encounters.
Chinese star Li Na began her season in perfect fashion, as she lifted the title in Shenzhen before going on to win her second Grand Slam title at this year’s Australian Open. The victory boosted Li to world No. 2, where she is currently trailing Serena Williams. She is coming off a surprising exit in Doha to qualifier Petra Cetkovska and will be looking to rebound with a strong showing at Indian Wells. As the top seed at the event, Li is in the same half of the draw as Dominika Cibulkova, whom she vanquished in the Melbourne final, as well as Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic.
Zheng has been absent from the tour following a third round exit from the Australian Open to wildcard Casey Dellacqua. She has compiled a 4-3 record on the tour so far this season and will be looking for her first win over Li in nearly eight years.
This marks the sixth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Zheng leading the head-to-head series 3-2. While the Cheng Du native may lead the series, her last victory over Li came nearly eight years ago in Oeiras. Since then, Na has won their last two consecutive encounters, one of which came at this particular event in 2012. Considering the performance gap between the two competitors this season, Li will likely hold a significant advantage over her Chinese counterpart and is expected to win this contest in straight sets.
Prediction: Li Na in Straight Sets