Indian Wells R1: Eugenie Bouchard vs (Q) Risa Ozaki
Eugenie Bouchard will commence her BNP Paribas Open campaign on Thursday night where she will take on Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki in the first round. Bouchard continues to improve tournament by tournament, clearly showing much greater form in the opening months of 2016 compared to her generally disastrous form in 2015. Bouchard’s 2015 downward spiral actually started at the is very event when she suffered a shock fourth round loss to Lesia Tsurenko, Genie will be keen to make amends for that this year and potentially advance past the fourth round in the Californian desert for the very first time.
Bouchard arrives at Indian Wells fresh off a run to the final at the BMW Malaysian Open last week. The Canadian stormed through a relatively weak field without dropping a set before being defeated by Elina Svitolina in an agonizingly close final. Bouchard actually served for the title in the final set but was ultimately outlasted by her seemingly healthier opponent. There are some question marks surrounding Bouchard’s health heading into this event given the Canadian apparently suffered concussion symptoms during the final in Malaysia and was advised by the WTA trainer to retire from the match, a concerning moment for Bouchard. Despite this, Bouchard has been seen practising at Indian Wells and seems to be in good spirits and ready to go.
Risa Ozaki was also in action last week at the BMW Malaysian Open and also had a relatively good week. Ozaki came through the qualifying draw before shocking Elizaveta Kulichkova in the main draw. Ozaki was eliminated in the second round by eventual champion Elina Svitolina in a three set match. The 21-year-old made her way through to the main draw of BNP Paribas Open courtesy of a couple of impressive victories over Magda Linette and Anett Kontaveit.
This will be the first career meeting between Bouchard and Ozaki. This looks like a pretty big mismatch on paper, the Canadian will enter this match as the clear favourite despite Ozaki’s relatively good recent form. Bouchard’s level has generally been quite stable this year and there is no real reason to suggest that she will stumble here. Ozaki may be daunted by the occasion, given this will be the biggest crowd she has ever played in front of. If Bouchard wins this, she will set up a blockbuster second round clash with Sloane Stephens.