Date/Time: Wednesday 6th March 2019 (Kick-off 9:00 PM CET).
The Indian Wells tournament and the one coming up in Miami are two of the slower hard courts on the Tour and it does feel much like a 'horses for courses' kind of event. This is one of the big events outside of the Grand Slams so motivation for all of the big names will be high, but conditions in the desert on the West Coast of the United States have been difficult for players to deal with, especially in relation to what is considered to be the slowest hard court on the Tour.
The problem for players is balancing out the overall conditions which sees the ball fly off the racquet in Indian Wells and it means a lot of unforced errors can be in play. Players are pushing to hit the ball through a slow court, but timing can be an issue and that is what players will have to face here.
Johanna Konta is a big favourite to beat Pauline Parmentier in the First Round of the WTA draw, but she has not had a memorable time in Indian Wells in the past. Her best run is reaching the Fourth Round in 2016, but Konta has won just one match in her last two visits to this tournament although I would expect her to get the better of her opponent in this one.
There is no doubt that there is room for improvement in the Konta game as she has struggled to reach the heights she did on the hard court in 2016. Her numbers have declined in each of the last three seasons including in her opening matches in 2019, but Konta is still a dangerous player when she can get herself going.
Pauline Parmentier is going to have to really raise her level if she is going to force Konta to have to dig deep and perhaps earn an upset in this one. If the Frenchwoman can put some pressure on Konta there is a chance she can do that, but it has been a difficult 2019 for Parmentier who is 4-6 on the hard courts overall and sees that record drop to 1-5 when she has faced top 100 Ranked opponents.
The serve has been attacked and Parmentier has not really returned as well as she would have liked and that doesn't bode well in a match against someone like Konta who reached the Quarter Final in Acapulco last week. It has been a struggle against the top 100 Ranked opponents Parmentier has faced on the hard courts in the last fifteen months and her numbers reflect that which is why I am leaning towards Konta in not only winning, but covering what is a big number on paper.
In that time Parmentier is 4-17 on the hard courts against top 100 Ranked opponents and she has failed to cover this number in twelve of those losses. Johanna Konta is 17-3 in the same timespan when playing against someone Ranked outside the top 50 and she has found a way to cover this number in twelve of those wins and I will look for her to break the Parmentier serve enough times to earn a cover here too.
Prediction: Johanna Konta - 5.5 games