An intriguing match-up between American youngster Sloane Stephens and Flavia Pennetta is scheduled to take place in the quarter-final round of the BNP Paribas Open. The Italian leads the head-to-head series 2-1, yet this marks their first meeting on hard court, which adds to the intrigue.
Stephens overcame some tense moments in the end of her match to close out Alisa Kleybanova, 6-3 7-5. The American led 6-3 4-2 when Kleybanova won three games in a row and served for the second set at 5-4. Stephens managed to regroup and break back to close out the match 7-5 and set up a quarter-final clash with Pennetta.
“Yeah, should be good,” Stephens said. “She just came back from an injury. She’s been playing well since she’s been back. It will be good. Obviously it’s a big tournament; always going to be tough. I’m just going to go out and do my best and hopefully get the win.”
“She’s so powerful – her backhand and forehand are really good – and she has really good potential,” Pennetta said of Giorgi after the match. “But her game is completely unpredictable. You don’t know what she’s going to do – she can play really well in one point, but then not too much in the next point. If she can find the right balance she will be a great player.”
This marks the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Pennetta leading the head-to-head series 2-1. This is their first meeting o hard court, which Stephens has historically performed better on. While that may be the case, Pennetta should still hold an advantage on hard courts, as that surface had been kind to her since last year’s US Open. She will likely earn the victory in three sets to reach the semi-final stage at Indian Wells.
Prediction: Flavia Pennetta in Straight Sets