WTA Premier Mandatory – Indian Wells
Final: Maria Sharapova vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Time: 3:00 p.m. Eastern – Sunday, March 17
Head to Head: 4-2, Sharapova
Amy: At this point in their careers, Wozniacki is simply overmatched against Sharapova. Wozniacki’s had a surprising run to the final, but unless Sharapova goes into self-destruct mode, I see Sharapova getting this one done in straights.
Juan Jose: Wozniacki had to pull a lot of trickery to barely get by a hobbled Angelique Kerber. It’s really difficult to see something like that working against a relatively in-form Sharapova. Yes, Wozniacki feels extremely at ease at Indian Wells, and soundly defeated Sharapova in the California desert two years ago. But much has changed in women’s tennis in these past two years, and not necessarily in a good way for Wozniacki. I say Sharapova takes the ugly glass trophy, 6-2, 6-4.
Lindsay: I’ve actually gained a new respect for Wozniacki this week, as I definitely did not see her making the final here. I figured she’d be back in the mix, but not at this tournament and not quite this soon. Her game is certainly not the most conventional, but she really does figure out a way, and that’s worth admiring. That being said, Sharapova’s game is so aggressive that she simply takes the ball out of Wozniacki’s hands. Wozniacki is not going to be able to rope Sharapova into playing her game the way she did with Kerber. Sharapova, when healthy and playing well, simply has too much power for that. Sharapova will take this in three.
ATP Masters 1000 – Indian Wells
Final: Rafael Nadal vs. Juan Martin del Potro
Time: 5:00 p.m. Eastern – Sunday, March 17
Head to Head: 7-3, Nadal
Amy: I’ve been pretty shocked at the form Del Potro has shown so far in this tournament. Given the problems he’s had with his left wrist, I figured he was in for an early exit, or at least that Andy Murray would take care of him in straights. But Del Potro is playing like he did in the second half of 2012 when he was able to beat Djokovic in the Olympics and Federer twice in Basel and London. While I’m hesitant to pick him against Rafa, I’m going to have to do so because I was amazed at how well Del Potro was returning against Murray and Djokovic, and he has a history of playing well against Nadal. If he’s able to make the same inroads against Nadal’s serve and hold onto his own, I think Del Potro will win in three sets.
Juan Jose: Del Potro is probably putting together his best tournament run since the 2009 World Tour Finals. He just scored his first hard court win over Andy Murray, and stopped a 22 match winning streak that belonged to none other than the World No. 1, who had soundly beaten him in their past four meetings. Both of these matches were tough, physical affairs, and Del Potro had to dig extremely deep within himself to come up with the last push in the semifinals. It’s a testament to how tough it is to win a big tournament in the Big Four era: the Argie will have to beat three of them just to have a chance to win his first Masters 1000. And in the final awaits Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match since the Viña del Mar final, and who hasn’t lost a set in three of his four matches at Indian Wells. Nadal is not only fresh, but he’s playing extremely well. And let’s not forget that the Spaniard loves the conditions in the desert: he’s won there twice. Del Potro’s impressive run will end, and Rafael Nadal will lift his record 22nd Masters 1000 trophy, 6-4, 6-2.
Lindsay: I mean, I know to never underestimate Rafael Nadal, and yet I did. I did not think there was any way he was making it to this final, but he found a way. Of course, he got a bit of help. Federer was not healthy physically, and Berdych was not healthy mentally. That does not take away from Nadal’s play, which has simply been sensational. Del Potro is long overdue for a Masters Series, and in theory this is the perfect time for him to get one, but Nadal is going to be too much for the big guy to handle. Rafa in two.
For all that is said about Wozniacki, I think one thing people underestimate about her and for which she never gets credit is that she is a fighter. She is like a street fighter out there. You never expect her to do well in a tournament and then she surprises you by pulling out a win. Frankly speaking both of these women have not played particularly well. Sharapova is through to the final because her opponents have faded down the stretch. I don’t think Wozniacki will do that. There is no awe in Wozniacki when she meets Sharapova. She knows that she can beat her. Sharapova on the other hand is facing a disadvantage in this final. She has played all of her matches in the evening when it is cooler. Today she will play in the heat of the day. I doubt she will want that. Wozniacki has played all her matches in the heat and she has lived to fight another day.
I say Wozniacki takes this in 3 tough, ugly, moonballing sets
I don’t think you can say Wozniacki never gets credit for that – Tignor had a huge piece about her and Sharapova being two of the grittiest competitors on the tour only yesterday. And she used to be favourably contrasted with her more volatile peers, before her subpar performance in majors overtook her.
That said, I don’t think she gets enough credit for what she does game-wise that is so gritty. Same with other defensive-minded players on both tours. People laugh at the moonballs, but really – if it works, why the disdain? Good for her for finding another option to counter an opponent. I don’t see any reason why that tactic should be more derided than, say, JMDP’s slicing this week, or Errani’s desperate serve and volley tactics vs Kvitova in Dubai.
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