Simona Halep looks to live up to her billing as top seed by making the Indian Wells final for the second time. The 2015 winner will play Naomi Osaka for a spot there. Osaka has had a career tournament this week with her semi final run earning her a career high ranking just outside the top 30.
Halep blamed the windy conditions for her struggles on Wednesday against Petra Martic. She was pushed all the way by the unseeded Croatian, eventually winning 6-4 6-7 6-3. “Was (the wind) a bit too much,” Halep said post-match. “Everything I had today frustration way, it was because of the wind.” There should be no such issues for her this time round with little wind forecast for the night session.
Osaka notched another scalp in the quarter finals, defeating 5th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-2. She punished Pliskova’s second serve severely, winning 20 of 29 points available on it. Just as impressive as the actual victories for Osaka are the manner in which they were earned. Other than a minor blip against Maria Sakkari, she has won all her sets for the loss of 4 games or less. She did drop a set 5-7 to Sakkari but won comprehensively in 6-1 sets either side of it. “I’m happy, but also I feel like it’s cooler to go to the finals and win it, so I’m going to try to do that,” Osaka said. “I feel like I want to break records for male and female. I’m coming for Kei (Nishikori). So that would be a cool thing to do.”
The pair met at the Australian Open, where there were similar expectations that Osaka could spring a shock over her higher seeded opponent after previous good wins. Things didn’t work out too well for her on that occasion as she fell to a 6-3 6-2 defeat, rarely troubling the No.1 seed.
Prediction – Simona Halep in three sets