Indian Wells R4: (1) Serena Williams vs (Q) Kateryna Bondarenko
Serena Williams will continue her quest for her first Indian Wells title since 2001 on Tuesday when she takes on Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko in the fourth round. The world number 1 has shown glimpses of brilliance in her opening couple of matches at the BNP Paribas Open and looks like the clear favourite to claim the title this week and will certainly be a clear favourite in her this fourth round clash with Kateryna Bondarenko.
Serena started her Indian Wells campaign with a dominant 6-2 6-1 win over Laura Siegemund, Serena was completely untroubled in that match. The American was forced to work harder for her third round victory, overcoming a shaky start to defeat Yulia Putintseva 7-6 6-0. Putintseva twice served for the opening set but Serena really raised her level when it mattered most at the business end of the first set and was almost unplayable in the second set. Serena will look to carry her second set form into her fourth round clash with Bondarenko and beyond.
Kateryna Bondarenko’s resurgence has continued at the BNP Paribas Open. The Ukrainian stormed through the qualifying draw in Indian Wells before going the distance in all three of her main draw matches, Bondarenko has now won 8 of her last 9 matches. Bondarenko defeated Alison Van Uytvanck and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her first two main draw matches before coming from a set down to defeat compatriot Lesia Tsurenko in gruelling encounter.
This will be the first meeting between Serena and Kateryna since 2009 where Serena recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win in Cincinnati. Serena has a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Bondarenko having also beaten the Ukrainian in straight sets at the U.S Open in 2008.
It’s tough to see Serena being even remotely challenged in this match. The world number 1 is now ready to rumble having already claimed two victories. Serena is just moving into her prime whilst Bondarenko is likely to have very little left in the tank after some gruelling matches, not a good position to be in when heading into a clash with Serena. The world number 1 should win this match comfortably.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in 2 sets
Doha R2: (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (Q) Kateryna Bondarenko
Agnieszka Radwanska looms as one of the biggest title contenders this week at the Qatar Total Open. After receiving a bye through the opening round, Aga will begin her Doha campaign with a second round clash with Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday. Radwanska has been troubled by Bondarenko in the past, however it is hard to see the Ukrainian giving the Pole too many problems on this occasion given the form of the two players heading into this event.
Radwanska has made a positive start to 2016, winning the title in Shenzhen before reaching the semi-final stage at the Australian where she would ultimately succumb to Serena Williams in straight sets. Radwanska’s form has been very impressive since the U.S Open last year, the Pole has a 27-5 record since New York, winning 4 titles in the process. Aga has a very good recent record in Doha, reaching the semi-final stage at the event in 3 of the last 4 years. The world number 3 will be keen and confident that she can go a couple of steps better in 2016 and claim her first Qatar Total Open title.
Kateryna Bondarenko has generally made a pretty poor start to the season but does seem to be finding some decent form in Doha this week. The Ukrainian defeated Maria Sanchez and Evgeniya Rodina to progress through the qualifying draw before recording a decent 6-4 6-4 victory over Annika Beck the first round of main draw action. Bondarenko will enter her second round clash against Radwanska with nothing to lose and may be quietly confident given she has beaten Radwanska in the past, albeit a while ago.
Radwanska holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Bondarenko. All three of the previous encounters between the pair were way back in 2009, they both won 1 match each on hard court. Bondarenko shocked Radwanska in the first round of the Australian Open that year with a three set upset win.
Radwanska should be far too classy for Bondarenko on this occasion. The Pole has been extremely consistent over the last couple of months and is highly unlikely to slip up against an opponent such as Bondarenko. This is the type of match-up that Radwanska usually loves, she will not be overpowered and she will be able to dictate play and expose the many weaknesses in the game of the Ukrainian.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in 2 sets
Australian Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kateryna Bondarenko
Ajla Tomljanovic will be representing Australia at Melbourne Park for the second year in 2016 and will start her Australian Open campaign with a first round match against Kateryna Bondarenko. Tomljanovic’s preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year have unfortunately been hampered by injury, it will be interesting to see to what extent Ajla has recovered and whether she can navigate her way through a very winnable first round match.
Tomljanovic started the year at her home town event at the Brisbane International, unfortunately for Ajla she didn't last long. Ajla was thrashed by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-2 in the opening round, the adopted Australian was clearly struggling with an abdominal injury and was a shadow of her best. Ajla decided to withdraw from the Sydney International and has been in Melbourne training for about 1 week and seems to be in a much better position to compete at a much higher level.
Kateryna Bondarenko made a solid start to the season in Brisbane, picking up victories over Sakkari and Osaka as she progressed though the qualifying draw. However, the Ukrainian suffered a disappointing first round loss to Madison Brengle in the main draw and made it back-to-back first round losses a week later in Hobart where she was defeated by Parmentier in the first round of qualifying in Hobart.
This will be the first ever meeting between Ajla and Kateryna, both will see this as a real opportunity to advance to the second round. I expect Tomljanovic to get the victory here, this is a really important match for her as she will be desperate to impress the Australian public at some stage during this Australian summer, a first round loss would be pretty disastrous. Bondarenko hasn’t won a match in Melbourne since 2010 and is a very average player. Tomljanovic certainly has far more class and ability should find a way to win this one.
Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in 3 sets