Date/Time: Saturday 16th March 2019 (Kick-off 5:00 AM CET).
A tough Quarter Final match could have potentially taken something out of the legs for Belinda Bencic who had to battle hard physically and mentally to see off Karolina Pliskova. On another day it would have been a lot more comfortable, but Bencic was guilty of missing a host of break point chances in the second and third set which left the match on a knife edge until the very end.
Ultimately the 'Swiss Miss' continued her roll to move to 12-0 since the start of February and the confidence is flowing as she is could finish close to the top 10 in the World Rankings if she is able to add the Indian Wells tournament to the one she won in Dubai. It would be a deserved Ranking as Pliskova became the latest player currently in the top 10 of the World Rankings to be beaten by Bencic in the last month and now she has a chance to add yet another from that list to her vanquished list on Friday.
This time Bencic has to take on Angelique Kerber who saw off veteran Venus Williams in straight sets in her own Quarter Final on Thursday. It was another solid win for Kerber, although she may have to step up her game another level when taking on Bencic having had to dig in deep to come through a couple of tough matches already at the event.
The Kerber serve has been working well so far in the tournament which may be a surprise considering the slower conditions. However it is an important part of her game and gives the German confidence to go on the offensive on the return and winning just under 50% of return points will give you the chance to win most matches when serving competently.
I do think it is a different test for Kerber against Bencic though who has been returning wonderfully so far in the tournament. She has won a slightly higher percentage of return points at 51% and the Bencic first serve has been a key weapon for her.
A couple of disadvantages have to be overcome by Bencic and the main one is the time she spent on court on Thursday compared with Kerber. However in general she has not been leaving too much energy out there and I do think she is a worthy favourite in this match and one I am happy to back for a third time this week having gone 2-0 in Bencic matches so far.
I have a lot of time for Kerber too who beat Bencic at Wimbledon last year on her way to winning another Grand Slam, but playing top 50 Ranked players on the hard courts has been a challenge for her over the last twelve months. The three wins here have taken her above 0.500 for those matches at 14-13 in win-loss terms, but Kerber is now playing against someone in great form and she has not really been as dominant in these types of matches as she would like.
Belinda Bencic can be backed to win, although again I will go with a straight win and not worry too much about the manner of her win.
Prediction: Belinda Bencic to win
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