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Halep vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Halep faces talented teenager for Indian Wells quarterfinal spot

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 11 Mar 2019
  • Simona Halep faces Marketa Vondrousova in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open
  • Halep vs Vondrousova is live from Indian Wells on Tuesday
Simona Halep (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Marketa Vondrousova is a formidable young talent, but is the Czech left-hander ready to get her first top-10 win and deny Simona Halep a place in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open?

Can Simona Halep brush off a patchy performance against Kateryna Kozlova to rise to the challenge of lefty teenage talent Marketa Vondrousova at Indian Wells on Tuesday?

Simona Halep celebrates victory over Kateryna Kozlova (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Second seed Halep continues her quest for a second BNP Paribas Open title, and her first trophy since Montreal last August, as she faces Vondrousova for a place in the quarterfinals.

Halep has reached the quarterfinals or better at Indian Wells on four of her eight appearances at the Premier Mandatory-level event, most recently last year when she made the semifinals before losing to Naomi Osaka, and I thought she looked pretty good in a 6-2, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova to start her campaign.

In fact, I’ve written a lot about how well I feel that Halep has been playing so far in 2019, which has seen her reach the final of the Qatar Total Open in Doha, the quarterfinals in Dubai, play an instrumental role in putting Romania through to the Fed Cup semifinals and reach the fourth round of the Australian Open despite a nightmare draw and imperfect preparation.

But one can’t be brilliant all of the time, and it was quite an odd and uneven performance Halep turned in against qualifier Kozlova on Sunday in a match that she was lucky to keep to two sets, quite honestly.

Halep broke serve to open, but she didn’t remain in command of proceedings for long, with Kozlova reeling off the next three games. The coachless Halep seemed caught flat-footed by her opponent’s use of the drop shot – a feature of the Kozlova game – but still broke again to lead 5-3 before her game suddenly went awry, with error after error flying off her racquet. With neither her ground game nor her serve firing – she served below 50% during the first set – Halep was in serious danger of dropping the opener and would have against an opponent with a little more steadiness. 

Squeezing through the tie-break, Halep had to continue to battle in the second set, twice coming back from a break down before putting together a 5-2 lead of her own – only to struggle once more when placed in a position to close out the set and allowing Kozlova to level to 5-5. 

Halep responded to this final challenge in style, playing some of her best tennis of the match to win the final two games to love and close out a 7-6(5), 7-5 win, and she raised her first-serve percentage significantly in the second set (but only won one of seven points played behind her second serve). Still, it hardly adds up to a particularly convincing win. The question is whether it was just a shaky day, or if something is bothering the second seed?

Halep’s performance against Kozlova certainly adds more intrigue to what was already an interesting fourth-round clash in prospect with Marketa Vondrousova.

The latest impressive left-hander to emerge from the Czech Republic, 19-year-old Vondrousova has been turning heads since she won her first WTA Tour title in Biel in 2017 as a qualifier, beating Anett Kontaveit in the final, in what was just her second appearance in the main draw of a WTA Tour event. This time last year, the Czech beat Aryna Sabalenka and Johanna Konta to make the round of 16 at Indian Wells, and went on to make the last 16 of the US Open as well, beating Kiki Bertens on the way. 

Marketa Vondrousova (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Vondrousova is 8-2 so far in 2019, following a second-round exit from the Australian Open at the hands of Petra Martic with a run to her second WTA Tour final on the indoor hard courts of Budapest, beating Anastasia Potapova before losing to Alison van Uytvanck. Currently ranked world no. 61, Vondrousova edged past Laura Siegemund in the first round before disposing of a pair of seeds, first crushing 2018 runner-up Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1, then coming back from a set down to beat 22nd seed Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Ostapenko raced to a commanding lead in the first set, but it was a pleasure to watch Vondrousova slowly reel her in, putting more and more pressure on the former French Open champion’s vulnerable serve and squeezing error after error out of her. 

‘I think I went after her second serve more after the first set,’ Vondrousova said. 

‘I just started pushing her and putting the pressure on her, and she did some double faults. I think this was the main key. I’m pleased that I was able to keep fighting like this.’

Can Vondrousova get her first win over a top-10 player in six attempts as she faces Halep? I doubt it. I find Vondrousova very watchable and see a future top-20 player for sure, but I think she’s got a way to go yet in terms of tactical maturity and awareness. Like a lot of players who can do a lot of things, Vondrousova has a tendency to get a bit muddled rather than identifying and sticking to her patterns, and that could be fatal against Halep – she certainly won’t get away with the lack of depth she frequently displayed against Ostapenko, because Halep will ruthlessly close. The left-hander is a better mover than you might think but she’s not going to outlast Halep in long rallies, even if the second seed plays as uneven a match as she did against Kozlova. It will be exciting to see whether Vondrousova can find the attacking tennis to make an impression on Halep – but even if she does I don’t think she’ll be able to maintain it for long enough to get the win. It should be the second seed who comes through to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells once more. 

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Halep vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Halep faces talented teenager for Indian Wells quarterfinal spot

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