Indian Wells Day 6 preview: Swiatek faces Andreescu; Rybakina, Jabeur, Raducanu in action


Third-round action continues on Day 6 of the BNP Paribas Open. It’s highlighted by the second edition of a potential rivalry between defending champion Iga Swiatek and 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu, while Ons Jabeur and Carolina Garcia both face Australian Open rematches.

Here are the top five picks from the order of play.

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) vs. [32] Bianca Andreescu (CAN)

Head-to-head: Swiatek leads 1-0

A second pro meeting between the second- and third-youngest active Grand Slam champions on tour. Their first was in the Rome quarterfinals last year. Andreescu was playing the third tournament of her comeback following a six-month mental health hiatus; Swiatek was in the midst of the 37-match winning streak that cemented her as a dominant World No.1. Swiatek, who had also won their only junior encounter, took it 7-6(2), 6-0. But Andreescu was the only player who even took Swiatek to a tiebreak in Rome, and that nip-and-tuck first set was a glimpse into the threat she could potentially pose.

It wouldn’t be accurate to suggest that they’re meeting on Andreescu’s turf this time round. The Canadian, who won Indian Wells in 2019, certainly prefers North American hard courts; but as defending champion, it’s as much Swiatek’s turf too.

It’s also hard to look past the astonishing form Swiatek showed in her 65-minute opening rout of Claire Liu, though in Andreescu’s three-set victory over Peyton Stearns, the 22-year-old at least showed no signs of the shoulder injury that beset her during February.

[4] Ons Jabeur (TUN) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)

Head-to-head: Jabeur leads 3-2 (Vondrousova leads 1-0 on hard courts and 1-0 in 2023)

When Ons Jabeur was informed of her next opponent, the Tunisian’s response was an earthy one. “I do? Sh*t. I didn’t know.”

It’s no surprise. Marketa Vondrousova was the player who evicted her in the second round of the Australian Open in January, and the Czech’s No.105 ranking belies her quality. Like two-time major runner-up Jabeur, Vondrousova has reached a Grand Slam final, at Roland Garros 2019. That was also the year she made an impact at Indian Wells, notching a maiden Top 5 win over Simona Halep to reach the quarterfinals.

“Bad thing since she’s playing good,” said Jabeur, having noted Vondrousova’s 6-1, 6-1 second-round win over No.28 seed Marie Bouzkova.

Jabeur also admitted after defeating Magdalena Frech in three sets that “it was probably too early to come back” from last month’s knee surgery, but that she saw it as a new challenge. That test has just become even sterner for the 2021 semifinalist.

[30] Leylah Fernandez (CAN) vs. [5] Caroline Garcia (FRA)

Head-to-head: Garcia leads 1-0

In another Australian Open rematch, Caroline Garcia takes on Leylah Fernandez for the second time this year. WTA Finals champion Garcia edged their Melbourne second round 7-6(5), 7-5, a contest that was on a knife edge throughout. The Frenchwoman needed to come from 5-2 down in the first-set tiebreak, and save a set point in the second set.

Highlights: Garcia d. Galfi, R2 | Fernandez d. Navarro, R2

Whether 2021 US Open runner-up Fernandez can reverse that result will come down to how both players perform on big points. Since they last played, Garcia’s reliability on that front has slipped slightly. She’s reached two finals, in Lyon and Monterrey, but was denied in tight matches by Alycia Parks and Donna Vekic respectively.


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