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Kerber vs Andreescu tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Canadian teenager Andreescu complete an improbable run to the Indian Wells title?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 16 Mar 2019
  • Angelique Kerber faces Bianca Andreescu in the final of the BNP Paribas Open
  • Kerber vs Andreescu is live from Indian Wells at 1pm local/8pm GMT
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber or Bianca Andreescu: Who will become the first Premier Mandatory champion of 2019 at Indian Wells?

For the fifth time in six years, the BNP Paribas Open will crown a new women’s champion on Sunday – but will it be German veteran Angelique Kerber, still capturing some of the sport’s biggest prizes for the first time at the age of 31, or teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu, the first wildcard to ever make the final at Indian Wells?

Belinda Bencic congratulates Angelique Kerber (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Kerber, a semifinalist at Indian Wells in 2012-13 but a stranger to the later stages of the tournament since, wasn’t talked about much coming into the first Premier Mandatory of the year nor, frankly, for much of it, with attention focused on defending champion Naomi Osaka, the battling run of Venus Williams and the sensational victories of Belinda Bencic, who ousted Osaka and then fifth seed Karolina Pliskova to make the semifinals.

But it’s Kerber who’s come out on top, first coming back from a big deficit in the third set against ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka to claim her first victory over a top-10 player since winning Wimbledon last July, then coolly closing down any opportunity for the hampered Williams in the quarterfinals.

But not many saw her win over Bencic in the semifinals coming – especially not in straight sets. But although the head-to-head was 3-1 in Bencic’s favour officially, Kerber had beaten her twice at Hopman Cup, and that experience seemed to help when they met on Friday night – as did 27 unforced errors from the Swiss player. The German left-hander was just solid – brilliantly so – retrieving early breaks in both sets and building the pressure shot by shot in rally after rally, stretching Bencic from side to side until she got a short or high floating ball that she could polish off. 

Bencic did not serve at all well – she hit five double faults and won just 17 of the 49 points played on her serve – and as a player who relies on taking the ball early rather than being an explosive hitter per se, she did not have much recourse as Kerber relentlessly built to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

‘I'm really looking forward to a really tough battle. She's here as a wildcard, and she beat a lot of good players. She has nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she's a great player,’ Kerber said of Andreescu.

‘I know that I have to play my best tennis in the final again, and I will try to enjoy it as well.’

It’s a little sad for Kerber that even if she wins, she still won’t be the story of the fortnight (although the prize money and ranking points will definitely take the edge off that disappointment). That honour firmly belongs to Bianca Andreescu, who looks – incredibly – to be headed into the top 30 after this week’s work.

Bianca Andreescu (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Andreescu has won more matches at all levels than anybody else in 2019, compiling a 25-3 win-loss record in reaching the final in Auckland and at Indian Wells, winning Newport Beach and making the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier. The world no. 60 made a huge statement with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, but for my money her victory over sixth seed Elina Svitolina in the semifinals was much more impressive, albeit less of a polished gem of a performance. Not only was it Andreescu’s second win over a top-10 player after beating Caroline Wozniacki in Auckland, but Svitolina made her work for every point of that 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory in a way that an error-prone big hitter like Muguruza wouldn’t have done (and indeed didn’t).

That’s not to say that it was a flawless performance from Andreescu, who made a bit of a tentative start before reeling off six straight games to take the first set, and then suffered from a slump in energy in the second set where she made life a bit more difficult for herself than necessary (always an occupational hazard with a player who has a lot of different options in her game). But it was Andreescu’s willingness to go for her shots – and her ability to generate winners at will – that made the difference in a topsy-turvy third set, the teenager bouncing back from losing an early break for 3-3 by immediately breaking again and clinging grimly on to that advantage, riding it to a huge win.

‘This match had a little bit of up and downs,’ Andreescu said, showing a fine turn for understatement. ‘I started a bit slow and then I picked it up after 3-0, thank God. Svitolina took control of the second set. I started missing more. Then in the third set I kept my composure, at least tried to. I pumped myself up.’

‘I went for it. Like I always say, I went for my shots,’ she added. ‘It was a crazy match. It was a roller coaster. I'm really happy I pulled through.’

Andreescu has seemed admirably unfazed by the situation she finds herself in so far, but it felt like it started to have an effect in the semifinals, and a day off to think before the final would probably only exacerbate that. She certainly can’t afford to start slow or tentative against Kerber, who could be a tougher opponent for her than Svitolina, particularly when it comes to being able to attack down the lines, and was relentlessly solid against Bencic.

And yet Kerber hasn’t really played terribly well this tournament, or this season. All the form, the confidence, the vim feels like it’s on Andreescu’s side of the court, and she does have the weapons to be able to work Kerber off the court. The question is whether she can do it over and over again for as many sets as is required.

Kerber is 12-16 in finals, and tends to perform best when she can believe she’s the underdog. That won’t really be the case on Sunday. Andreescu has the momentum, and the greater ability to make things happen on the court. In an unpredictable encounter, I’m picking the teenager to come out on top and crown this brilliant start to the season with a huge title at the BNP Paribas Open.

Kerber vs Andreescu BNP Paribas Open tennis is live from Indian Wells on Sunday at 1pm local/8pm GMT

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Kerber vs Andreescu tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Canadian teenager Andreescu complete an improbable run to the Indian Wells title?

Angelique Kerber vs Bianca Andreescu live streaming, preview and predictions for the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday 17 March: Wimbledon champion Kerber has experience and consistency on her side in Indian Wells final but Andreescu has confidence and explosiveness

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