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Kerber vs Sabalenka WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - World No. 8 vs World No. 9 in BNP Paribas Open fourth round

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 12 Mar 2019
  • Angelique Kerber vs Aryna Sabalenka is live from Indian Wells on Tuesday at 8.00pm local time (3.00am GMT, Wednesday)
  • It will be the first career meeting between the pair
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Top 10 stars Angelique Kerber and Aryna Sabalenka collide for the very first time on Tuesday with a spot in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals in Indian Wells on the line.

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A potential match of the round awaits on Tuesday in Indian Wells as three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber takes on rising star and World No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round.

After demolishing Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-2 in her opening match at Indian Wells, Kerber was tasked with a mighty challenge against an in-form Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the third round on Monday. The German claimed an early break in the opening set, but Vikhlyantseva responded brilliantly and reeled off six of the next seven games to take a one-set lead. However, Kerber began to find her range in the second and won five games on the bounce to force a decider, where she refused to relinquish the momentum and completed the 3-6 6-1 6-3 victory.

“[Matches like this] give me again confidence that I can turn around matches; that I can play also three sets; also in the close moments that I'm there, that I can trust myself,” Kerber told reporters after her win.
“I think that I had now, like, two completely different matches. One really good one from the beginning until the end, and now today with few up and downs. I think it's good also when I'm looking ahead to the next round.”

A two-time semi-finalist at Indian Wells in 2012 and 2013, Kerber hasn’t played that well in the Coachella Valley over the last few years, losing in the second round three times from 2014-16, while she went down in the fourth round in 2017 and the quarter-finals last year. The reigning Wimbledon champion isn’t bringing her best form into this tournament either - after another great Hopman Cup campaign for Germany, she was stunned and crushed 6-0 6-2 by Danielle Collins in the fourth round of the Australian Open, while she lost to Elise Mertens in the Doha semi-finals and to Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round of Dubai.

Once again, Kerber is trying to back up and repeat a superb season on tour after her 2018 included winning her third Grand Slam at Wimbledon and making semi-finals at the Australian Open, Eastbourne and Dubai, all of which contributed to her rising back into the world’s top two. While Kerber isn’t showing any signs of slumping to the depths of her 2017 campaign (when she was dealing with the pressure and expectation of her extraordinary 2016), she will want to start winning big matches again and making the latter stages of events like the BNP Paribas Open. Can she return to the quarter-finals on Tuesday?

Aryna Sabalenka (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Not if Aryna Sabalenka has any say in the matter. The 20-year-old has advanced into the Indian Wells fourth round for the first time in her young career, posting a three-set win over Ajla Tomljanovic in the opening round before taking out Brisbane runner-up Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 7-5 in the third round on Monday. Sabalenka appeared on course for a crushing victory as she led 6-2 5-2, but Tsurenko reeled off three straight games to make a fight of the second set. However, the Belarusian regrouped swiftly, held to love and then broke Tsurenko for the sixth time to complete the win.

"I remember that she beat me 6-1, 6-1, so I was very focused today," Sabalenka said on-court after the match, referencing a heavy defeat to Tsurenko in Hobart last year. "She's a great player and it was a tough match today."

Despite a disappointing third round exit to teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova at the Australian Open, you’d have to give Sabalenka a comfortable pass mark for her start to the season. She captured her third WTA title to launch 2019 at the Shenzhen Open, defeating Maria Sharapova and Alison Riske in the final, while she also made the semi-finals of St. Petersburg last month, going down to fellow top 10 star Kiki Bertens. A second round loss to an inspired Belinda Bencic in a deciding set tiebreak in Dubai also wasn’t too bad. Establishing yourself in the top 10 and winning a title over the first two months of the season is certainly impressive for a 20-year-old coming off their breakout year.

However, in saying that, the reigning New Haven and Wuhan champion hasn’t beaten a top 10 player yet this season. Sabalenka did that eight times from June to October last year - can she claim a big scalp over Kerber on Tuesday? She’s a real chance. Sabalenka tends to play better against the top players and when she’s not expected to win, and with her aggressive and explosive game, that could lend itself nicely to the defensive-minded Kerber, who herself struggles when the pressure and expectation is on her. It should be a fun match-up to watch, but for me, if Sabalenka can execute her powerful game, she has a great opportunity to win this, especially with Kerber not really playing her best tennis so far in 2019.


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Kerber vs Sabalenka WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - World No. 8 vs World No. 9 in BNP Paribas Open fourth round

Top 10 stars Angelique Kerber and Aryna Sabalenka collide for the very first time on Tuesday with a spot in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals in Indian Wells on the line.

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