Angelique Kerber vs. Belinda Bencic, Indian Wells SF Preview

🇺🇸🌵 BNPPO19, Indian Wells – SF Preview
🇩🇪 (8) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇨🇭 (23) Belinda Bencic

A blockbuster semi-final clash from the Californian desert sees Angelique Kerber take on Belinda Bencic with a place in the BNP Paribas Open final up for grabs. Belinda Bencic is arguably the hottest player on tour at the moment as she enters this clash on an 11-match winning streak. Bencic also enters this match with a winning record over Kerber at the tour level, however the German is a proven champion who becomes increasingly difficult to beat at the business end of big tournaments.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Angelique Kerber is through to the semi-final stage in Indian Wells for the third time. Kerber’s route to the final 4 hasn’t always been easy. Kerber received a bye through the opening round before cruising past Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-2. Kerber was forced to dig deep in her next couple of matches as she required 3 sets to get the better of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Aryna Sabalenka. Kerber produced arguably her best performance of the season thus far in a 7-6 6-3 victory over Venus Williams to confirm her spot in the final 4.

Belinda Bencic is on a roll. Bencic arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai and has continued her winnings ways in Indian Wells to extend her unbeaten run to 11 matches. Bencic received a bye through the first round before cruising through her first few matches with straight set wins over Alison Van Uytvanck and Ekaterina Alexandrova. Bencic’s most impressive performance came at the fourth round stage where she claimed a surprisingly easy 6-3 6-1 win over Naomi Osaka. Bencic secured her spot in the final 4 for the first time in Indian Wells with a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova.

Belinda Bencic holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Angelique Kerber at the tour level. However, Kerber has also beaten Bencic in the last couple of years at the Hopman Cup. Overall, the head-to-head record is 3-3 and Kerber has won their last 3 matches. Their most recent match was the Hopman Cup a few months ago where Kerber won 6-4 7-6.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Belinda Bencic, Indian Wells R4 Preview

🇺🇸🌵 BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R4 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇭 (23) Belinda Bencic

Two of the WTA tour’s most in form players will collide in Indian Wells on Tuesday evening when Naomi Osaka comes up against Belinda Bencic. This match-up sees the world number 1, defending Indian Wells champion and reigning US Open / Australian Open champion take on a resurgent Belinda Bencic who is on a 10-match winning streak having arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her third-round match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka was under pressure heading into this event and there were some real question marks surrounding her title defense after she split with her coach a few weeks ago and lost her opening round match in Dubai. However, Osaka has made a strong start in Indian Wells. The world number 1 started the event with a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic, avenging her loss to the Frenchwoman in Dubai last month. Osaka then went on to produce an impressive performance to blast her way past Danielle Collins 6-4 6-2, if she maintains that level she will be hard to beat this week.

Belinda Bencic has been totally untroubled in her first couple of matches in Indian Wells. Bencic started the event with a 6-4 6-1 win over Alison Van Uytvanck before defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-2. Bencic is on a roll at the moment, momentum is certainly on Bencic’s side and she will need all of that positive energy when she takes on the world number 1 in the next round.

Osaka and Bencic have never met at the tour level before. They have previously played at the Hopman Cup last year where Bencic won in straight sets and at an ITF event in 2013 where Osaka won in straight sets, these previous results are mostly irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how their first tour level encounter unfolds.

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Simona Halep vs. Belinda Bencic, Dubai QF Preview

🇦🇪🐪 Dubai DFTC – QF Preview
🇷🇴 (3) Simona Halep vs. 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

Simona Halep continues her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships campaign on Thursday evening with a quarter-final showdown against Belinda Bencic. Halep has done well to quickly recover from playing in the Doha final on Saturday and thus far has conserved energy well in Dubai given she is yet to drop a set.

Halep has done well to come through a couple of tight matches in straight sets to reach the quarter-final stage in Dubai. The 2015 Dubai champion started the event with a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 win over Eugenie Bouchard before battling past Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 7-5. Importantly, Halep has been able to raise her game at the business end of each set this tournament, that was on full display in the second set against Tsurenko where Halep won the last 12 points of the match, a good sign that Halep is feeling really confident at the moment.

Belinda Bencic is through to her first premier level quarter-final since Connecticut last year. Bencic started her Dubai campaign with a 6-4 7-6 win over Lucie Hradecka before cruising past Stefanie Voegele 6-1 6-1. Bencic’s best win of the tournament and indeed her best win of the year came at the third round stage where she saved match points in an epic 6-4 2-6 7-6 victory against Aryna Sabalenka.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. It has been a while since these two have gone head-to-head, their most recent match was back in 2015 in the Toronto final where Bencic won in 3 sets via retirement. Halep won their only completed match 6-4 6-1 at Wimbledon in 2014.

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Angelique Kerber vs. Belinda Bencic, Wimbledon R4 Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon, R4 Preview
🇩🇪 (11) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

Angelique Kerber and Belinda Bencic will renew hostilities when they meet at the fourth round stage at Wimbledon on Monday. It is Bencic who has historically had the better of this match-up, Bencic holds a perfect 3-0 record over Kerber at the tour level but Kerber did beat Bencic earlier this year at the Hopman Cup. It is Kerber who heads into this match as a strong a favourite but Bencic will fancy her chances of causing an upset.

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action during the third round at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships Grand Slam tournament

Angelique Kerber is into the second week at Wimbledon for the fourth time in the last 5 years. The German is a former runner-up at SW19 and is one of just 3 players left in the draw to have a Grand Slam heading into the round of 16. Kerber made a fairly unconvincing start to the tournament, beating Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3 before labouring to a 3 set win over Claire Lui. Kerber upped her level to claim a 6-2 6-4 win over Naomi Osaka and secure her spot in the fourth round.

Bencic has come through a tough draw to reach the second week at Wimbledon for the second time, the first time she has reached the second week at a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2016. Bencic started the event with a 7-6 6-3 victory over the 6th seeded Caroline Garcia. The 21-year-old claimed a dramatic second win, saving 4 match points on route to a 1-6 7-6 6-2 win over Alison Riske. Bencic secured her spot in the round of 16 with a 6-1 7-6 defeat of the 27th seeded Carla Suarez Navarro. The key theme throughout the first week for Bencic was her ability to get through every tough moment, a perfect 3-0 record in tiebreaks.

Bencic holds a 3-0 H2H record over Kerber at the tour level, all 3 victories were on a hard court. Their most recent meeting was at the Hopman Cup earlier this year where Kerber claimed a 6-4 6-1 win.

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Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Belinda Bencic, Roland Garros R2 Preview

Roland Garros, R2 Preview
🇸🇰 (19) Magdalena Rybarikova vs. 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

The 19th seeded Magdalena Rybarikova will face a tough test when she takes on Belinda Bencic in the second round at the Roland Garros on Thursday. Interestingly, Rybarikova and Bencic will both be playing to reach the third round at Roland Garros for the very first time. This is a huge opportunity for both, who will step up and take it?

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in action during her first-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Rybarikova cruised through her opening round match in Paris, claiming a comfortable 6-3 6-0 win over Luksika Kumkhum. Rybarikova has made a habit of performing well at the Grand Slam level, the Slovakian reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year followed by a third round appearance in New York and a fourth round showing at the Australian Open earlier this year.

In her first match since Indian Wells earlier this year Bencic managed to fight from a set down to claim a gutsy 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Deborah Chiesa. Roland Garros is easily Bencic’s least successful Grand Slam event to date, the only Grand Slam where she has not reached the second week, perhaps that will change in 2018?

The head-to-head record between the pair is squared at 1 win apiece, both matches went to 3 sets. Bencic beat Rybarikova at Wimbledon in 2014 whilst more recently Rybarikova claimed an upset victory at Indian Wells in 2016. Who will sneak ahead with a win in Paris?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs Belinda Bencic, Indian Wells R2 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R2 Preview
🇱🇻 (6) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

A blockbuster second round match-up at the second round stage of the BNP Paribas Open sees the 6th seeded Jelena Ostapenko come up against Belinda Bencic. This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Bencic, a battle between two of the tours most talented youngsters. This is likely to be a match-up we will see a lot of in the years to come, it will be interesting to see who draws the first blood.

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Jelena Ostapenko is really yet to get going in season 2018. The Latvian has a very modest 3-6 win/loss record in 2018, she has not been able to find her range from the baseline and her second serve has been a real issue of late. Ostapenko has only competed in Indian Wells on 1 previous occasions, a second round exit at last year’s event. The slow, gritty hard courts are not the type of courts that would be considered favourable for Ostapenko. The Latvian progressed to the second round courtesy of an opening round bye.

Belinda Bencic claimed a critical victory to advance to the second round. Bencic saved match point on route to a hard-fought 1-6 6-1 7-6 victory over Timea Babos. The opening two sets were very one-sided as the score line suggests but the third set was very close and very tense. Bencic squandered several chances midway through the set and saved match point at 4-5 which she saved in a lucky rally. Bencic was clearly the better player in the decisive tiebreak, her precision groundstrokes were the difference in the end.

It will be interesting to see how this match unfolds in what will be the first meeting between the pair. These are two of the hungriest and most talented young players on tour, expect a fiery clash.

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Veronica Cepede Royg vs Belinda Bencic, Acapulco R1 Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, 🇲🇽🌴 Acapulco R1 Preview
🇵🇾 Veronica Cepede Royg vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic will begin her 2018 Abierto Mexicano campaign on Monday with an opening round clash against Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg. This will be the first career meeting between Cepede Royg and Bencic. It is Bencic who heads into this match as a strong favourite but Cepede Royg is rarely a pushover, can the Paraguayan cause an opening round upset in Acapulco?

Belinda Bencic started the season in great form. Bencic didn’t really have an off-season, instead she competed at a number of ITF and WTA 125K events where she won 3 titles in a row. However, the transition to success at the higher level has not been immediate. Bencic suffered a big setback when she was beaten in the second round at the Australian Open by Lesia Kumkhum. More recently, Bencic suffered consecutive straight set losses in Switzerland’s unsuccessful Fed Cup tie with the Czech Republic. Bencic was beaten by Barbora Strycova and Petra Kvitova. It will be interesting to see what level Bencic will bring to Acapulco.

Veronica Cepede Royg was the hero for Paraguay as she guided the Paraguayan Fed Cup team into the world group 2 playoffs with a critical epic 3 set win over Beatriz Haddad Maia. Cepede Royg has improved her tennis on hard courts in recent times, she is certainly a more aggressive player than in the past and is willing to step up into the court more often, something she will need to do against Bencic.

It will be interesting to see how competitive Cepede Royg can be in the first career meeting between the pair.

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Venus Williams vs Belinda Bencic, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(5) 🇺🇸 Venus Williams vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

The pick of the opening round matches at the 2018 Australian Open sees Venus William come up against Belinda Bencic. The 2017 runner-up has certainly been dealt the toughest opening round match-up, Belinda Bencic is the most dangerous unseeded floater in the draw. Bencic is in outstanding form heading into the opening Grand Slam of the year. This looms as an intriguing battle between experience and youth. Venus has won the 4 previous matches between the pair but will have her work cut out to maintain her unbeaten record over the Swiss rising-star.

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Venus Williams enjoyed a marvellous 2017 season, unfortunately the 37-year-old just missed out on achieving her ultimate goal of winning another Grand Slam title. A passion to win another Grand Slam will be the drive for Venus in 2018. Venus played just one event in the lead up to the first Grand Slam of the year where she was beaten in her opening match by eventual champion Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-3 6-1 at the Sydney International. Venus showed glimpses of her 2017 form throughout the match but was understandably rusty and her level fell away towards the end of the match. Venus will be better off for the hit and usually does not played many matches before a Grand Slam event.

Belinda Bencic had a hybrid off-season. Bencic’s 2017 season ended late, Bencic won back-to-back WTA 125K titles in Hua Hin and Taipei before winning the 100K ITF title in Dubai. A few weeks later Bencic competed at the Hopman Cup where she helped guide Switzerland to the title alongside Roger Federer. Bencic won 3 of her 4 singles matches, her only defeat came in the final against Kerber. Bencic also competed in Kooyong just last week where she won the women’s championship, coming from a set down to beat Andrea Petkovic in the final. I think Bencic’s scheduling heading into Melbourne has been perfect.

Venus Williams has won all 4 of their previous matches between the pair, all in straight sets. Most recently Venus beat Bencic 6-3 6-4 at the U.S Open in 2015. Can an in-form Bencic claim her first win over Venus Williams or will the evergreen American be too strong?

Anastasia PAvlyuchenkova vs Belinda Bencic, Hopman Cup Preview

Hopman Cup Preview, Russia vs Switzerland
🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will take on Belinda Bencic on Tuesday evening at the Hopman Cup. Pavlyuchenkova and Bencic had contrasting starts to the season, Pavlyuchenkova was beaten by Vandeweghe in straight sets whilst Bencic defeated Osaka in straight sets. This should be a quality encounters between two fairly evenly matches players.

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Pavlyuchenkova was no match for Vandeweghe in her Hopman Cup debut. Pavlyuchenkova was beaten 3-6 3-6, another straight set loss to the American on a hard court. Pavlyuchenkova is making a trend of struggling against players that can better her power as it exposes her weaknesses: her movement and poor defense.

Belinda Bencic is on a 16-match winning streak at all level. After ending the 2017 season with 3 titles in a row (2 WTA 125K titles and an ITF 100K title), Bencic kept her winning momentum going in Perth. Bencic claimed an impressive 7-5 6-3 win over Naomi Osaka in what was a high quality encounter.

Bencic holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova. Most recently Bencic won 6-7 6-4 6-2 at the quarter-final stage in St. Petersburg in 2016.

Naomi Osaka vs Belinda Bencic, Hopman Cup Preview

Hopman Cup, Japan vs Switzerland

🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

Japan will take on Switzerland in the second tie of the opening day of action at the 2018 Hopman Cup. Naomi Osaka will be representing Japan in what will be her first appearance in Perth. Belinda Bencic will be playing for Switzerland, alongside Roger Federer for the second year in a row. This should be an exciting encounter between two of the games most promising young talents.

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Belinda Bencic ended a frustrating 2017 season on a high. Bencic won back-to-back 125K events in Hua-Hin and Taipei to ensure she would end the 2017 season in the top 100. Bencic further boosted her ranking by ending her season with victory at the 100K ITF event in Dubai. At her best, Bencic has proved that she is a solid top 15 player, it will be interesting to see the heights Bencic can reach in 2018 if she stays fit and healthy.

2017 was a big year for Naomi Osaka. It is clear that Osaka has a great amount of potential, Osaka has a big game, capable of beating the best players in the world. Osaka claimed some notable victories in 2017, a first round win over Angelique Kerber at the U.S Open and a victory over Venus Williams in Hong Kong.

Belinda Bencic is the more experienced of the two when it comes to representing their country. Firstly, Bencic has previous experience at the Hopman Cup, whilst Osaka does not. Bencic has been a regular part of the Switzerland Fed Cup team over the last few years, helping her nation reach the semi-final stage of the world group in the last two years. Osaka made her Fed Cup debut in 2017, playing at the lower tiers of the event.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in 2013 at an ITF event. Osaka won 6-3 6-3 on a clay court in Pelham. Clearly this result is mostly irrelevant heading into this match. It will be interesting to see how these two match up against each other.