A fantastic first-time encounter is set to take place in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open between two touted competitors this season in Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard. Both athletes have had impressive surges up the rankings this season and will be looking to further their achievements with strong performances in Indian Wells.
Also among Sunday’s early winners was No.22 seed Alizé Cornet, who scored a heroic victory against No.14 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, 67(4) 75 63. Not only did the match last three hours and 26 minutes – the second-longest match of the year after Maria Sharapova’s three-hour, 28-minute win over Karin Knapp at the Australian Open – but Cornet fought off triple match point serving 4-5, 0-40 second set. Down 3-5 in the third set, Halep produced some of her best tennis to win the next nine consecutive points to jump to 5-4, 30-0, before closing out the match 6-4 in the final set.
“I think my game is complete,” Halep said earlier in the week. “I can play well with both sides. I don’t serve really well, but I keep working on that. And I move well, so I stay close to the baseline. I think I’m playing beautiful tennis. Maybe it’s because I’m very relaxed on the court now, and that’s the secret to winning a lot of tournaments. I just want to keep going like this – it’s the right way.”
World No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard upset No.9 seed Sara Errani, 6-3 6-3 to set up the fourth round clash with Halep. The French-Canadian’s win over the World No.10 was the third Top 10 win of her career and the first this season. Her first two victories came last year, when she defeated Sam Stosur at Charleston and Jelena Jankovic in Tokyo.
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour. With both Halep and Bouchard producing sublime tennis over the past year, this is a fantastic match-up between two of the WTA tour’s rising stars. While Bouchard has the tools to defeat Halep, mainly aggression and intelligent shotmaking, Simona has picked up far more wins over top-ranked opponents and have proven herself to be more consistent than the Canadian at this stage of her career.
Prediction: Simona Halep in Three Sets