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WTA Indian Wells 2019 - Defending champion, Naomi Osaka and two-time champion, Serena Williams handed difficult draws in packed Indian Wells field

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 5 Mar 2019
  • Defending champion, Naomi Osaka may have to get through Mladenovic, Collins, Wozniacki, Pliskova and Kvitova to make the final
  • Serena Williams' path to the final could see her run into Azarenka, Muguruza, Bertens, Stephens and Halep
  • WTA Indian Wells is live from Indian Wells from 7-17 March
Serena Williams. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka faces tough title defence; while Serena Williams must navigate a difficult draw if she is to win a third Indian Wells title. It’s an absolutely packed field at Indian Wells!

Defending champion, Naomi Osaka faces a tough path if she is to retain the Indian Wells title, while Serena Williams, in the other half of the draw, must contend with a difficult draw as she seeks her first title since returning from maternity leave.

Bidding to become the first woman since Martina Navratilova in 1991 to defend the Indian Wells crown, world No. 1, Osaka has got a big task on her hands. The Japanese superstar, who is competing as defending champion at a tour-level event for the first time in her career, gets a bye into the second round, where she begins her campaign against either Saisai Zheng, or Kristina Mladenovic, who defeated Osaka in Dubai a couple of weeks ago. If Osaka gets through that, Australian Open semi-finalist, Danielle Collins could emerge in the third round, while former world No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki or Dubai champion, Belinda Bencic are the most formidable of her possible fourth round opponents. 


The other side of the top quarter is headlined by Karolina Pliskova, who according to the seedings, should take on Osaka in the last eight, but Pliskova may need to get through Donna Vekic in the third round, and possibly Anett Kontaveit or Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth before that projected date with Osaka.

It doesn’t get easier for anyone, as whoever gets through the Osaka-Pliskova quarter could run into Petra Kvitova or Angelique Kerber in the last four. Again, there are significant roadblocks for Kvitova and Kerber, with Kvitova potentially taking on Venus Williams in a second-round blockbuster, while Madison Keys and Julia Goerges represent testing fourth round opposition if she makes it that far. Kerber could encounter serious adversity in a potential fourth-round meeting with the hard-hitting Aryna Sabalenka.


Serena Williams is stuck in an equally stacked bottom half, and may have to get through a couple of multiple Grand Slam champions early on before the higher-ranked players emerge later in a brutal draw.



Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are the only two-time champions in the draw, and hence, the only women with a chance to win a record-breaking third title at the event, but unfortunately, only one of them will go beyond the second round as they are projected to meet at that stage! Serena gets a bye into the second round while Azarenka must take down Belarusian, Vera Lapko to set up that meeting. Whoever gets through could take on two-time Grand Slam winner, Garbine Muguruza in the third round. The survivor from that Serena-Azarenka-Muguruza axis could then run into Kiki Bertens in the fourth round, while Sloane Stephens is a potential quarter-final opponent. 

Headlining the bottom quarter is Simona Halep, who, considering the quality of the field, should be quietly pleased with her draw. Her most formidable challengers early on are Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the third round, and the out-of-sorts Jelena Ostapenko or Daria Kasatkina in the round of 16, while Elina Svitolina is her most likely quarter final opponent. Svitolina may have to take out Ashleigh Barty or Caroline Garcia in the fourth round. If Halep comes through that, she could set up a semi-final with Serena Williams, a rematch of their epic Australian Open contest, if Serena survives her own testing quarter.

WTA Indian Wells is live from Indian Wells from 7-17 March.

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WTA Indian Wells 2019 - Defending champion, Naomi Osaka and two-time champion, Serena Williams handed difficult draws in packed Indian Wells field

Naomi Osaka faces tough title defence; while Serena Williams must navigate a difficult draw if she is to win a third Indian Wells title.

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