Arguably the match of the day at the BNP Paribas Open, first seed Serena Williams and fifth seed and defending champion Simona Halep both continue their quests for their first title of 2016 as they face of in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. This is scheduled to be the fourth match on Stadium 1, and the winner will face third seed Agnieszka Radwanska or eighth seed Petra Kvitova in the semifinal.
So Far In Indian Wells
Williams has been fairly comfortable so far in California. She has faced two qualifiers and has won comfortably, easing past Laura Siegemund 6-2, 6-1 in the second round and Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2 in the fourth round. Her most tricky match was in the third round, where she had to twice break to stop Yulia Putintseva taking the first set, eventually easing to a 7-6, 6-0 victory. The American has played well so far and will be very tough to beat.
Halep has had a tough start to the year but has played her best tennis of 2016 in Indian Wells. She started with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win over Vania King and impressed further with a 6-4, 6-2 win over the tricky 30th seed, Ekaterina Makarova. Her fourth round match ended prematurely with Barbora Strycova retiring when the Romanian led 6-3, 1-0, though Halep would have probably seen that match through to victory and will have built up some confidence coming into this clash.
Williams has played well so far and will certainly have a good opportunity to win this if she continues to play that way. However, Halep should be a much bigger test than her previous opponents and she should be ready to increase her level, which she will probably need to. The American will need to serve well against a good returner like Halep and will need to be patient when constructing points as Halep, a good defender, has the ability to deal with the power that Williams can unleash; she should try to finish points as quickly as possible.
The world number one may need to finish points as quickly as possible, so this will be even more important for Halep who could lose some ground in the longer rallies. Halep must try to get on her backhand as much as possible, as she could dictate play on this, and must attack the American's serve as much as she can. Tbe Romanian herself has a good serve and that certainly must be firing today, and she will also need to defend well against the power that Williams could use on every point.
Williams comfortably leads the head to head 6-1 and leads 4-1 on hard courts; she won the last meeting between the two 6-3, 7-6 in Cincinnati last year. However, Halep's sole victory was a crushing win at the WTA Finals in 2014, and will be ready to take advantage if Williams puts in a bad performance.
There will certainly be a large crowd for this match and hopefully they will get a high quality match-up. Williams is the favorite and if she continues to play like she has, that should be enough to win this match. Halep could make it difficult, though it seems that she doesn't have the power to consistently challenge the American.
Prediction: Serena Williams in two sets