2019 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells: Venus Williams vs Petra Kvitova, Preview and Prediction
The second round of the 2019 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells presents a high voltage clash between the seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and the two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova.
Their head-to-head record and recent form suggest a clear edge in favour of the Czech international, having won four of their six meetings. However, their most recent encounter had gone Venus' way at the 2017 US Open quarter-final.
That match ended in a third set tiebreak, and there's every reason to believe that in-front of an adoring home crowd, the 38-year-old American superstar will produce her very best.
Venus needs top form to prevail vs. Kvitova
But to do that, she would have to significantly improve on her first-round match performance against Andrea Petkovic. She endured a very patchy performance and struggled with her rhythm, fitness and the windy conditions.
She was broken six times, bagelled in the second set and in-fact, won six points less than her opponent in the match. Against Kvitova, she cannot afford a similar display if she wants to be victorious.
Kvitova has been in terrific form so far this season. She began the year by winning the Sydney International, after which she has made a run to the finals of the Australian Open and Dubai tennis championships, where she lost two closely fought encounters.
Both Venus and Petra rely on strong serves and razor-sharp forehands. If both of them bring their A game to the match, then it promises to be a treat for the tennis fans worldwide. There is little doubt that Kvitova comes into the match as the favourite - but Venus has generally played very well on American hard courts, and the crowd support will certainly spur her on.
Expect Venus to play aggressively from the very outset. If she can take the match into the distance, it could be anybody's game as there have been instances in recent times where we have seen Kvitova falter when matches get tight and hotly-contested.
Prediction: Petra Kvitova to win in three sets