Former champion Maria Sharapova will begin her campaign at Indian Wells as the second seed at the 2015 edition of the event. The Russian superstar will begin her fortnight in the desert against Yanina Wickmayer, whom she last met six years ago in Birmingham. Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 1-0 and will look to maintain that undefeated record en route to the third round.
Sharapova was last seen down in South America, where she lost to Caroline Garcia in the semi-final round of the Mexico Open in Acapulco. Prior to that, she won both her Fed Cup matches against Poland, beating the Radwanska sisters to secure the tie for her nation. She kicked off her season with a title win in Brisbane and a runner-up showing at the Australian Open, so it is safe to assume that Sharapova will be in fine form once she steps out onto the hard court at Indian Wells.
Sharapova will also be faced with her biggest rival, Serena Williams, who will return to the tournament for the first time in 14 years. While Sharapova has not beaten the American in over a decade, she welcomes her return with open arms.
“Personally, I’ve always said—when you’re playing any event, especially being at the top of tennis, you want to be playing against the best and as I’ve said before, she’s the best. And you want to be in the same field as the best.”
The Russian will come up against Yanina Wickmayer in her first match at the tournament. The world No. 91 began her run against Karin Knapp, who she defeated 6-1, 7-5 to reach the second round. Yanina hit two aces, won 55% of her first service points and broke serve twice to close out the match in 1 hour and 18 minutes.
This marks the second time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Sharapova leading the head-to-head series 1-0. While there is a six-year gap between matches, Sharapova will likely produce a similar result this time around.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets