Indian Wells third round preview: Gauff, Halep, and Kerber highlight Sunday’s action

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The top half of the WTA draw will enter the third round at Indian Wells on Sunday. With the WTA, you never know what to expect, or as Paula Badosa [5] observed after Elina Svitolina’s [12] defeat to Harriet Dart, “In the WTA anything can happen. The level has improved a lot. Yesterday I was watching tennis. I saw an insane match. Then you see the ranking. It was a girl 120. She played like Top 10 level.”

With the depth of the tour, it can be hard to pick out what might be the match of the day, but here are two matchups we are sure that Women’s Tennis Blog readers will enjoy.

Coco Gauff

Cori Gauff [16] versus Simona Halep [24]

The two seeded players have only played once before, and it was in the 2019 Wimbledon quarterfinal, when the American was only fifteen years old. Halep ended the teen’s fairytale run 6-3, 6-3. They will lay each other on Sunday, which happens to be Gauff’s eighteenth birthday.

Looking ahead after her second round match, Gauff told the media “it will be an interesting match. I definitely feel like I have a lot more experience now and I think it will be a good match. Hopefully I can pull it out.”

Simona Halep

She described specifically how she has matured already in her young career. “I definitely do feel more calm. Today I was really trying to take my time going to my towel, fighting my instincts to not rush. That was definitely, a lot of times I just wanted to rush up to the line, but I tried to tell myself to take my time.”

Gauff will need to play her best tennis to beat Halep, who won the Indian Wells title in 2015 and is particularly comfortable on its famously slow hard courts: “I like to play here. I like the conditions. The wind is not easy. The rest I feel good. I’m pretty confident when I come here every time.”

That comfort, however, is not a complacency. The Romanian knows the work she has ahead of her, telling the press, “You never know at this level, so I’m just taking it day by day and I’m trying just to reach the level that I’ve been before.”

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber [15] versus Daria Kasatkina [23]

Angelique Kerber is facing Daria Kasatkina in a rematch of the 2021 third round at Indian Wells. Kerber won that match 6-2 1-6 6-4. The two also faced each other at the tournament in a 2018 quarterfinal, which Kasatkina won with a decisive 6-0 6-2. Their total head to head has Kerber slightly ahead at 5:4. Sunday’s match gives the Russian a chance to equalize their rivalry.

Daria Kasatkina

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