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Sabalenka vs Tsurenko WTA Indian Wells Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sabalenka faces tough Tsurenko test in Round 3

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 11 Mar 2019
  • Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko is live from Indian Wells on Monday, 11 March from 12:30pm local time/ 7:30pm GMT
  • Tsurenko defeated Sabalenka 6-1 6-1 in their only previous meeting in Hobart last year
Aryna Sabalenka. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Belarusian powerhouse, Aryna Sabalenka seeks a spot in the fourth round at Indian Wells for the first time in her career when she takes on Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko on Monday.

Sabalenka is competing at Indian Wells for just the second time in her career, having reached the third round on debut last season. The 20-year-old defeated Varvara Lepchenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova before falling to Marketa Vondrousova. Sabalenka would go on to take gigantic steps in 2018, claiming her first career titles in New Haven and Wuhan, and making other finals in Lugano and Eastbourne. She had begun the year ranked 73rd, but gained 60 places to finish the season just outside the top-ten at 13th.

Sabalenka kept up the momentum at the start of 2019, winning her third career title in Shenzhen, but she has lost a little bit of steam after that, and has made just one semi-final in her last four tournaments. A 13-4 record for the season (including a couple of wins in the Fed Cup) is by no means poor, but considering the heights Sabalenka reached in the second half of last year, there has certainly been a drop off since Shenzhen.

She was beaten by Petra Kvitova in a tough first round in Sydney, then fell to American teenager, Amanda Anisimova in the third round of the Australian Open, when a lot more was expected from her. The Belarusian rebounded with a semi-final in St. Petersburg (lost to Kiki Bertens), and then lost to Belinda Bencic in the second round in Dubai despite holding six match points.

Sabalenka, who broke into the top-ten after the Australian Open, will feel she is due a big result, and there are not many bigger stages than Indian Wells. She had to survive a tough opener against Ajla Tomljanovic, but overcame a second set wobble to race through 6-3 4-6 6-0, moving into the third round for a second straight year. 

It doesn't get any easier, as she battles the steady Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko for a spot in the Round of 16 on Monday.

Lesia Tsurenko. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Tsurenko reached the quarter finals at Indian Wells in 2015, and made the third round in 2016, but she fell at the first hurdles in 2017 and 2018, and flirted with a third successive opening round defeat when she trailed American, Jessica Pegula by a set and a double break on Saturday. However, from 6-4 4-1 down, Tsurenko mounted a remarkable fightback, winning six of the next seven games to take the second set, and edging the final set to record a 4-6 7-5 6-4 victory, ending a three-match losing streak at the tournament.

Like Sabalenka, Tsurenko had a rapid start to the year, reaching the final in Brisbane (lost to Pliskova), but she is yet to make a WTA quarter final since then, falling to Anisimova in the second round of the Australian Open (a round before the young American defeated Sabalenka), and losing to Simona Halep twice- in the Round of 16 in Doha and Dubai. 

That's hardly a poor scorecard, with three of her losses against Pliskova and Halep. 

The 29-year-old has been playing the best tennis of her career over the last year and a half, and reached her career-high ranking of 23rd in February. 2018 marked the first time Tsurenko would end a season inside the top 30, as she finished at 28th after a campaign that yielded a second successive Acapulco title (her fourth career title), a maiden Grand Slam quarter final at the US Open, a fourth-round run at Roland Garros, semi-final in Hobart, and quarter finals in Cincinnati and Birmingham.

Tsurenko routed Sabalenka 6-1 6-1 in their only prior meeting in Hobart last year, and the world No. 28 will again attempt to frustrate the power-hitting Belarusian with her tenacious retrieving and careful ball placement. Sabalenka has got all the weapons and can snatch the racket off her opponent's hands, but expect Tsurenko to doggedly hang on to that racket as she chases her ninth top-ten win.

Can she withstand the Sabalenka barrage and move into the fourth round, or will Sabalenka find her range and avenge last year's heavy Hobart defeat?

Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko is live from Indian Wells on Monday, 11 March from 12:30pm local time/ 7:30pm GMT

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Sabalenka vs Tsurenko WTA Indian Wells Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Sabalenka faces tough Tsurenko test in Round 3

Aryna Sabalenka attempts to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells for the first time when she takes on Lesia Tsurenko. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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