Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova would face-off in an all-Russian affair in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open, with one Russian being secured a place in the semifinals. This match would be played in Stadium 1 not before 1 pm local time, and is definitely one of the must-watch matches in this round.
Pavlyuchenkova in 2017
Pavlyuchenkova has been in great form this year having reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and now here in Indian Wells. Her Australian Open run was exceptionally excellent as it included victories over the in-form Elina Svitolina in three sets before following it up with a routine victory over her opponent tomorrow, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the fourth round. She originally had a chance to proceed to the first ever Grand Slam semifinal as she led by a break in both sets against Venus Williams, but was unable to take her chances well as she fell in straight sets.
Nevertheless, it was a great tournament for the Russian as this amazing run completed her achievement of reaching at least the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam. A win in this match would see Pavlyuchenkova rise to be the world number 16, and she has already secured a return to the top 20 of the rankings with her impressive performance here.
Kuznetsova in 2017
This would be Kuznetsova’s best performance this year as the only other quarterfinals she reached this year was at the Brisbane International where she lost to Garbine Muguruza and the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy where she fell to eventual finalist Yulia Putintseva in three sets. A win here could definitely boost Kuznetsova’s confidence as she would find it difficult to defend her finalist points at the Miami Open next week, and faces a huge risk of falling out of the Top 10 if she exits early in Miami. Therefore, with a deep run here in Indian Wells, Kuznetsova would be able to affirm her position in the top 10 players in the world.
Performance in Indian Wells
Both players had pretty convincing victories here in the desert as they strolled to this stage losing only one set in the process. The average rank of Pavlyuchenkova’s opponents is 50, which does not really represent how well she performed as the Russian claimed victories over Barbora Strycova, the world number 19, and the world number five Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. Her victory over Cibulkova was very impressive considering she trails their head-to-head record by 2-5, and recently lost their last meeting in Doha. Whereas, Kuznetsova’s opponents has an average rank of 37, with confidence-boosting victories over both Caroline Garcia (read a recap of the match here) and Roberta Vinci (read a recap of the match here).
Although Kuznetsova leads their head-to-head record by 5-3, but not many would know that these two players had already met twice this year, with Pavlyuchenkova surprisingly triumphing in straight sets on both occasions. Kuznetsova would be determined to turn this record around in their third meeting in three months, preventing a third straight loss this year to her compatriot.
Kuznetsova would be able to dictate play with her solid groundstrokes and her powerful backhands, mixing it up with a variety of shots such as the sliced shots and drop shots, which would definitely be able to trouble Pavlyuchenkova. However, the world number 21 also has her own weapons as her offense would be able to win the match for her. Consistency is a big problem, though, as she is known for her inconsistency and would not be able to keep her her level of play throughout a whole tournament. Nevertheless, she has already proven the critics wrong when she put in some excellent performances in her matches this week.
To win this match, both players would have to put in their best effort and display some high-quality tennis with an offensive style of tennis being of the utmost importance. With a great defense that would be able to save her from the brink, Kuznetsova would edge out as the favorite during this match. However, do not be surprised if Pavlyuchenkova is able to pull off the upset.
Prediction:  Svetlana Kuznetsova d.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets