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Kerber vs Bencic WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Bencic on 12-match winning streak and has 4-1 record over Kerber heading into semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 15 Mar 2019
  • Angelique Kerber vs Belinda Bencic is live from Indian Wells at 9.00pm local time on Friday (4.00am GMT)
  • Bencic has won four of their five previous encounters
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber and Belinda Bencic have the chance to reach a first Premier Mandatory final when they square off for the sixth time in Saturday’s semi-finals in Indian Wells.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber tries to snap the incredible 12-match winning streak of Belinda Bencic (and overturn a daunting 1-4 record against the Swiss) when the pair clash in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals on Friday night.

It’s a bit bizarre that Kerber has never once advanced to a WTA Premier Mandatory final when you consider the fact she’s won three major titles and been No. 1 in the world. The German came close in consecutive seasons in Indian Wells when she made the semi-finals in 2012-13, which was before she really took her game to the next level, while her only other semi-final at Premier Mandatory level came in Miami during her career-best 2016 season, where she won those Australian and U.S. Open titles and hit the No. 1 ranking.

Kerber hasn’t been operating at the peak of her powers so far this season, but she played her best match of the year in the semi-finals to beat Venus Williams in a battle of former No. 1s and Grand Slam champions. It was an extremely fascinating showdown as Venus adopted tactics we don’t usually see from her - namely mixing up the pace of the ball from the baseline as she seemingly dealt with a knee injury. Despite her knee giving her issues, Venus was right in the contest, and when she broke Kerber when the German was serving for the set at 5-4, she looked to have regathered the momentum. However, Kerber steadied and raced through the ensuing tiebreak as Venus’ level dipped - and she managed to keep her nose in front for the rest of the encounter as she emerged a 7-6(3) 6-3 winner.

"Today I think [Williams] played really tricky, but in the good way," Kerber said after the match. “It was really hard for me to play my game, also with changing the rhythm and everything."

It was a confidence-boosting win for Kerber, who in the previous round scored her first top 10 win of the season over Aryna Sabalenka, a triumph that followed earlier victories over Yulia Putintseva and Natalia Vikhlyantseva. The 31-year-old has been in search of a big tournament in 2019 after some disappointing defeats, most notably in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Danielle Collins, while she also lost to Elise Mertens in the Doha semi-finals and Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round of Dubai.

Finding herself in a somewhat similar position to what she experienced in 2017 as she tries to back up a stellar season in which she won a Grand Slam title, the reigning Wimbledon champion would love to go all the way to a first Premier Mandatory title here in Indian Wells. However, to have a chance at the title, Kerber must find out a way to do something six of her fellow top 10 players haven’t over the last month - and that’s beat Belinda Bencic.

Belinda Bencic (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
On the run of her life and playing some spellbinding tennis, Bencic secured her 12th consecutive victory and her sixth over a top 10 player in the last month when she defeated Karolina Pliskova in three sets in the quarter-finals on Thursday. Backing up her huge win over World No. 1 and defending Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round, Bencic recovered from dropping the second set to continue her sparkling run in the Coachella Valley, earning a 6-3 4-6 6-3 win to advance into her first Premier Mandatory semi-final.

"I'm very confident," Bencic said after her win. "You know, I'm really just trying to take it one step at a time. Of course now it's been a few steps more. But, you know, I'm not putting pressure on myself even now. I'm just playing."

Amazingly, the last time Bencic lost a WTA main draw match was in the Hobart International semi-finals against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the middle of January. She went on to fall to Petra Kvitova in the third round of the Australian Open (an ITF event) and didn’t even qualify for the main draw in St. Petersburg at the start of February, but she hasn’t lost since, winning two matches in Fed Cup for Switzerland before going on her magical run to the Dubai title, claiming four top 10 wins on the bounce over Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kvitova in the final.

A former World No. 7 after a similarly destructive run to the Canada Open title in 2014 when she was a teenager (beating Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Halep), Bencic will return to the top 20 in the rankings courtesy of making the semi-finals in Indian Wells. But can she go even further in the Californian desert?

I think she can. Bencic has always had a superb record against top 10 players, and obviously that’s strengthened over the last month, while she owns a 4-1 head-to-head over Kerber, winning their first four matches before Kerber got on the board at Wimbledon last year. The Swiss is playing fearless tennis, isn’t thinking on court (which she says is good for her) and is basically a human backboard as she plants her feet on the baseline and dictates play. Kerber played great against Venus, but she hasn’t been operating at the level Bencic has over the last month. It’s a big ask, but if Bencic keeps up her current form, she has everything working in her favour to make the final.


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Kerber vs Bencic WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Bencic on 12-match winning streak and has 4-1 record over Kerber heading into semi-finals

Angelique Kerber and Belinda Bencic have the chance to reach a first Premier Mandatory final when they square off for the sixth time in Saturday’s semi-finals in Indian Wells.

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