2019 Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open Semifinal 2: Angelique Kerber vs Belinda Bencic, Preview and Prediction

BNP Paribas Open - Day 11
BNP Paribas Open - Day 11

The eighth seed Angelique Kerber meets the twenty-third seed Belinda Bencic in the second semifinal of 2019 BNP Paribas Open.

The two have met each other six times in the past, with Bencic leading the head to head record 4-2. It is interesting to note that their first four matches were won by Bencic whereas the German has won their last two encounters, the most recent being a fourth-round match at last year’s Wimbledon Championships.

In fact, in the first four matches which took place between 2014 and 2016, Kerber could not even manage to take a single set off Bencic. But injuries and poor form ensured that since then up until this year, Bencic has not looked like the player she was in her prime.

In a career that has already seen so many ups and downs, what is remarkable is that Bencic is only twenty-two and on the evidence of the supreme form she has shown at Dubai and Indian Wells so far, she may yet fulfil her early potential.

After three straight-set wins, Bencic faced her first real test in the quarter-final against the fifth seed Karolina Pliskova. Having won the first set, she suddenly started to struggle for rhythm and was quickly down 0-4, and was close to being 0-5 down.

But it is a testament to her fighting spirit, that she collected herself and started to find her rhythm again. Even though she lost the second set, she looked like the player more likely to win and that is how it eventually turned out.

A major contributor to her win in this match as well as in other matches was her superior return game. In the quarters, she won twenty one points more than Pliskova on their respective return games. She will need to continue in the same vein against her semifinal opponent who is also known for her superb defensive skills and who like Bencic, is a counter-puncher.

Angelique Kerber at BNP Paribas Open - Day 11
Angelique Kerber at BNP Paribas Open - Day 11

Kerber played a solid match against the crowd favourite Venus Williams to win in straight sets. A major reason for the eventual result was her superior second serve win percentage which was at a whopping 71% compared to just 40% for the American.

Kerber usually tends to play well towards the latter stages of a tournament. She will also take confidence from the fact that she has won her previous two matches against Bencic. But the Bencic on show here is a far superior and more confident version of the one she faced then.

It promises to be a mouth-watering clash between two counter-punchers possessing superb defensive skills.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to win in 3 Sets  

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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