2022 BNP Paribas Open women's final preview: Iga Swiatek vs Maria Sakkari
Swiatek and Sakkari met twice over the last few months (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The first mandatory WTA 1000 of the season has not disappointed with storylines. Now in a final between Iga Swiatek and Maria Sakkari, the winner not only takes the BNP Paribas Open title but will move up to a career-high world number two.

Swiatek is currently on an astounding 10-match win streak which saw her claim her first major hard court title in Doha and is looking to claim a second straight WTA 1000 title to start the season. For Sakkari, after ending a duck that's seen her lose at the semifinal stage seven times in big tournaments (majors, tour finals, and WTA 1000s), she's looking to end another one by claiming her first title since 2019.

Head-To-Head

Sakkari leads the head-to-head between the pair 3-1, winning the first three matchups which all came last year. Swiatek won their lone meeting this year so far in the semifinals of Doha in straight sets en route to the title.

Swiatek's Road To The Final

For the Pole, her start to Indian Wells very much was the opposite of how she finished Doha as she slow out of the gate. She dropped the first set in her opening three matches to Anhelina Kalinina, Clara Tauson, and Angelique Kerber before dominating sets two and three in all of those matches.

She produced a masterclass performance against Madison Keys only conceding one game and came through in the clutch moments against Simona Halep in the semifinal, breaking when the Romanian served for the set in the first and saved multiple set points in the tiebreak as well.

Swiatek celebrates winning a point in her semifinal match (Robert Prange/Getty Images)
Swiatek celebrates winning a point in her semifinal match (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Sakkari's Road To The Final

The Greek was thorough throughout the tournament, dominating most of her matches along the way. After getting through a tricky opener in straight sets against Katerina Siniakova, she did not drop a set on the way to the semifinals with wins over Petra Kvitova, Daria Saville (retirement), and Elena Rybakina.

Sakkari flew out of the gates in her semifinal showdown against Paula Badosa, winning the opening set comfortably 6-2 before the defending champion struck back to take the second set. A dominating third set ended the Spaniard's magnificent run in the desert over the last few months and set up a showdown for world number two in the final.

Sakkari celebrates winning her match against Paula Badosa (Robert Prange/Getty Images)
Sakkari celebrates winning her match against Paula Badosa (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Keys To The Final

For Swiatek, it's keeping the same demeanor she has throughout the last couple of events. Despite playing from behind in a handful of matches, she kept her poise as "the favorite", playing with controlled aggression and picking her spots when to attack and when to sit back.

Earlier I didn’t feel like I was choosing the right moments, but I think it also comes with a little bit of experience", Swiatek said. Known for being better in slower conditions, she's very much taking advantage of the Indian Wells conditions using her forehand to put her into winning positions.

For Sakkari, it's continuing her domination on serve. The Greek has held nearly 85 percent of her service games at the event, nearly a 10 percent jump from her numbers for the season so far. Known for usually being the aggressor in her matches, their last match saw Sakkari on the back foot more often against Swiatek which allowed the Pole to grab her first win.

Expect Sakkari to come out with a slightly different gameplan to ensure that a repeat of Doha does not come to fruition. If she's able to do that, it's all on Swiatek to make the necessary adjustments which she has done quite often in her 10-match win streak. Despite Sakkari's best efforts, Swiatek is just too hard to pick against at this point given her form.

Prediction: Swiatek in three sets.

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