Indian Wells R2: (21) Sloane Stephens vs Eugenie Bouchard
A blockbuster second round clash on Saturday evening sees Sloane Stephens come up against Eugenie Bouchard at the BNP Paribas Open. Interestingly, these two ladies have followed a similar path in recent years, both burst onto the scene before falling away. Stephens and Bouchard both arrive in California with good form, especially Sloane Stephens who claimed her second title of the season at Acapulco a couple of weeks ago.
It has been a somewhat strange start to the season for Sloane Stephens. The American has already won 2 International level titles, in Auckland and Acapulco. However, Sloane did suffer a very disappointing first round loss at the Australian Open. Sloane will be hoping she can translate her generally positive form into results at the bigger events, starting this week at the premier mandatory level BNP Paribas Open. Sloane’s victory over Dominika Cibulkova in the final at Acapulco a couple of weeks ago was particularly impressive, it featured some of the best tennis Sloane has ever played and some of the greatest determination we have seen from the American on route to winning an epic final in a third set tiebreaker.
Eugenie Bouchard has also had good success at the International level this year, reaching the final in Hobart and Kuala Lumpur but was unable to claim the title on either occasion. Bouchard struggled through her opening round match at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday evening, fighting from a set down to defeat Risa Ozaki 2-6 6-4 6-2. The Canadian was far from her best in that match, nevertheless she showed a good level of maturity to come through the match despite not being anywhere near her best.
Bouchard will need to play much better on Saturday if she is to trouble Sloane Stephens.
Sloane Stephens has the slight edge in the head-to-head series having won 2 of their 3 previous encounters. The most recent match between the pair took place in Beijing back in 2013, it was Stephens who prevailed 6-1 1-6 6-4.
Sloane seems to have the edge heading into this match, the American’s recent form has been more impressive than her Canadian opponent. Sloane’s level of tennis on route to the title in Acapulco a couple of weeks ago was very high, some of the best tennis of Sloane’s career. Whilst Bouchard was very poor in her opening match against Ozaki and will need to raise her level significantly in this match. The slower, bouncy courts in California should also favour Stephens in this match-up. Sloane should win this if she brings her recent form to the court.