Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur will be squaring off for the 10th time in their careers when they clash in round three of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday night. Azarenka is dominating the head-to-head series 8-1 and was once 8-0 before dropping the most recent contest between the two veterans on the hard courts of Carlsbad in 2013. The Belarusian had won 13 consecutive sets at Stosur’s expense until finally losing one at the 2012 U.S. Open, and only one of their first 13 sets even went to a tiebreaker.
They have gone almost three full years without facing each other in part because of Azarenka’s recent inactivity due to foot injuries. But the former world No. 1 is back in business now and up to 15th in the rankings. She is 12-1 this season with her only setback coming at the hands of eventual Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. Azarenka’s 2016 campaign features a title in Brisbane and so far in Indian Wells she has taken out Zarina Diyas and Shuai Zhang in straight sets.
Stosur has had no such comfortable ride through the early rounds of her draw. The 31-year-old Australian needed a third-set tiebreaker to get past Yanina Wickmayer before storming back from a significant third-set deficit to defeat Christina McHale 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Monday. Struggling just a bit at No. 28 in the world, Stosur has not yet won more than two matches at any tournament this season. She has made it past the Indian Wells quarterfinals only once (semifinals in 2010), which is surprising because the court surface and conditions should suit her game to perfection. Stosur likes high-bouncing courts and conditions in which her shots really fly through the air. Still, Stosur has never been overly successful in the desert and she certainly hasn’t be successful against Azarenka.
Prediction: Azarenka in straight sets