WTA Indian Wells fourth round preview: Elena Vesnina vs Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber and Elena Vesnina would face off in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open after both enjoyed a tight three-set victory over their respective opponents in the previous round.

Kerber’s 2017 so far

Angelique Kerber had a very poor 2017 up till now, especially when she lost the number one ranking due to some poor performances but will regain the top spot in the rankings after this week due to Serena Williams’ withdrawal from the tournament. Starting her year at the Brisbane International, Kerber suffered a huge scare against then-world number 271 Ashleigh Barty and lost to her nemesis Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

Angelique Kerber had troubles with her backhand in her third round match | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Angelique Kerber had troubles with her backhand in her third round match | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Proceeding to the Sydney International, Kerber lost in the opening round to youngster Daria Kasatkina as she looked out of sorts during the match. Looking to defend her title at the Australian Open, Kerber lost in the fourth round to Coco Vandeweghe, the eventual semifinalist, as she was unable to go against the powerful game of the American.

Her next tournament was at the Qatar Total Open, where she suffered yet another disappointing loss to Daria Kasatkina once more. Having a chance to regain the number one spot by winning the title in Dubai, Kerber showed some fight and played some amazing tennis before being hampered by injuries and falling to Elina Svitolina for the second time in two months.  

Angelique Kerber struggled during her third round match today | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Angelique Kerber struggled during her third round match today | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Vesnina’s 2017 so far

Elena Vesnina had a substandard start to 2017, after being able to only reach one quarterfinal in the first two months despite being ranked in the top 20 for the whole period of time. Her first match of the year saw a choke a 6-3, 4-1 lead against Cornet only to lose in three sets eventually, and followed it up with a retirement in the first round of the Sydney International against Coco Vandeweghe. Having a favorable draw at the Australian Open, Vesnina disappointingly lost to Jennifer Brady in the third round as she failed to take advantage of her lead in the first set, ending off the Australian swing with yet another loss.

Claiming a good victory over doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova in the opening round of the St. Petersburg Ladies trophy and then taking revenge against Alize Cornet in the second round, Vesnina fell in the quarterfinals against Dominika Cibulkova. Early exits in both Dubai and Doha was extremely disappointing as she was seeded in both of the tournaments, and owned a huge lead in both of the losses against Konjuh where she led 6-3, 2-0 and against Davis whom she led 5-1 against.

Elena Vesnina was affected by the heat in her third round match | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Elena Vesnina was affected by the heat in her third round match | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Kerber in Indian Wells

Angelique Kerber looked at her best in her straight sets victory over Andrea Petkovic, losing just three games in the process. Then, she suffered a huge scare against Pauline Parmentier in the third round as this time, Kerber displayed a very lackluster performance as she had to recover from a 1-4 deficit in the final set to triumph eventually. Kerber finally broke the duck having lost four consecutive matches in Indian Wells with her last win here being in 2013.

Vesnina in Indian Wells

Elena Vesnina earned her first career victory over Shelby Rogers in the second round, triumphing in straight sets as she seemed to be in top form this week. She followed it up with a confidence-boosting victory over 25th seed Timea Babos in the third round, clinching the win in three sets after coming from a break down twice in the final set. This would be Vesnina’s best performance in this tournament in her career.

Elena Vesnina serves in her third round match | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Elena Vesnina serves in her third round match | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Previous encounters

Kerber leads their head-to-head record by three matches to one, with their record on hard courts being tied at one match all. Their last encounter came at the 2013 Connecticut Open, with Vesnina triumphing in straight sets.

Analysis

Kerber looked very inconsistent this week as she followed up an impressive performance in her opening match with a disappointing display in her third round match against Parmentier. The only common factor was her consistent forehand being able to save her from the brink at times, and that could possibly be the turning point of this encounter. Although her serve has the lefty advantage, it can also be vulnerable as Vesnina would have the ability to attack them because of its relatively slow speeds.

Elena Vesnina celebrates her victory in the third round | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Elena Vesnina celebrates her victory in the third round | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Vesnina would be able to dictate play with her powerful groundstrokes from the baseline and will trouble Kerber if the Russian is able to send those shots deep inside the baseline. Also, Vesnina can control the game by going up to the net as she excels in doubles, and is able to hit some excellent net shots and earn multiple points from there. However, she also has the same problem as Kerber as she is also very inconsistent, and unforced errors would cost her greatly especially at the crucial moments.

Prediction: [14] Elena Vesnina d. [2] Angelique Kerber in three sets

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