Sunday, October 10, 2021 - Veronika Kudermetova and Iga Swiatek play a Round 3 match at Stadium 1 on day 7 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
All the way out on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden’s intimate Stadium 3, No. 2 seed Iga Swiatek takes on fellow former Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-finals.
Both have been in fine form so far at the BNP Paribas Open. Swiatek has cruised through her opening two matches, barely cracking the one-hour mark in her opener against Petra Martic and cruising past No. 25 Veronika Kudermetova in her last match 6-1, 6-0. Ostapenko, who routed Hsieh Su-Wei but had to battle against an in-form Yulia Putintseva in the third round, has been thriving in the slower conditions, teeing off on sitters with cataclysmic power on both wings.
It’s an intriguing clash primarily because both enjoy slower courts, but also because the only other time these two have faced were on the slick grass of Birmingham when Swiatek was barely a pro and the Latvian was two years into her status as a Grand Slam champion.
Watch for how each player handles the other’s second serves as both will be keen to assert themselves early in the rallies – and may the best woman win.
Can Leylah Fernandez keep her form going? Stadium 1 patrons will find out on Tuesday afternoon as she takes on an in-form Shelby Rogers, who has cruised through her three matches in the Palm Desert this year.
The amicable, competitive Canadian has delivered on her promise at the BNP Paribas Open so far, backing up her US Open run with two wins. In both, she engaged the crowd with her win-at-all-costs fire and won them over early, but she might have a more challenging time with that against Rogers, a home favorite.
It will be Fernandez’s first time playing during the day where conditions are wildly different, but if anything, she’ll appreciate the extra zip she gets on her groundstrokes as she looks to bamboozle Rogers who will be solid off both wings and on serve.
Victoria Azarenka is the only former champion left in the draw after her fourth-round opponent took out one of the only others. Aliaksandra Sasnovich has been on fire this week, eliminating 2015 champ Simona Halep just days after routing reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu.
The younger of the two Belarusians has found power on her backhand and placement on the forehand, catching her opponents off guard with a level far higher than her World No. 100 ranking would let on. On the other hand, Azarenka has had to battle through her first two matches, including a scrappy third-rounder against Petra Kvitova where she struggled to find range on her groundstrokes.
Azarenka, a former World No. 1, is in the hunt to become the first-ever three-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open, but will have to shift into a higher gear against her quirky countrywoman, who is playing with nothing to lose.
Expect some scintillating backhand-to-back-hand rallies, with the 2012 & 2016 champ looking to finish points off at the net as Sasnovich holds her ground from the baseline.