Saturday, March 9, 2019 - Karolina Pliskova plays Misaki Doi in the 2nd round of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 3 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
Red-hot contenders Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic are each playing the best tennis of their career, and Thursday morning on Stadium 1, the pair will take the court with a spot in the 2019 BNP Paribas Open semifinals on the line.
For world No. 5 Pliskova, a semifinal appearance would match the best of her career in Indian Wells, she also made the semifinals in 2016. The Czech star looks every bit the part, as she’s putting together a season for the ages to start 2019. She has had one of the most impressive starts to 2019 of any WTA player.
In her first tournament of 2019, Pliskova captured the Brisbane International title with a slew of victories over top-flight opponents. The 12-time WTA singles champion followed up that performance with a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open, downing the likes of Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams along the way. This week in Tennis Paradise, she’s continued to impress tennis fans and pundits alike. While challengers Misaki Doi, Ysaline Bonaventure and Anett Kontaveit each posed their risks, the Czech passed each challenge with flying colors.
It’s no surprise that Pliskova has continued her magical season and maneuvered her way into the quarterfinals in Tennis Paradise, but few expected it of her opponent.
The Czech may be having the best 2019 on the tour, but 22-year-old Belinda Bencic is on a month-long run that could go down in history. Since late February, the upstart Swiss has downed Aryna Sabalenka (No. 8), Simona Halep (No. 3), Elina Svitolina (No. 6) and Petra Kvitova (No. 2); before routing world No. 1 Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-1 to reach the Indian Wells quarterfinals.
While Bencic is a former top-10 player, a rough 2017 season that included a significant wrist surgery sidelined her for five months, bumping her outside of the WTA Tour top-300. In the span of only a month, she’s ascending back up the rankings at an extraordinary rate.
Bencic is on an eye-popping nine match win streak and has dispatched five of the WTA Tour’s top-10 in less than a month. There is no one playing better tennis today, on either the men’s or women’s tour, than Bencic.
On Thursday in Tennis Paradise, a Swiss dynamo will look to continue her historic rise against a top-5 Czech in the peak form of her career.