After Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek blitzed past their opponents to set up a semifinal meeting in the top half of the BNP Paribas Open draw, let’s have a look at the bottom-half quarterfinal pairs who will take the court on Thursday at 11 a.m. local time.
Maria Sakkari  vs. Elena Rybakina 
The sixth and seventeenth seed have only played each other once. In the semifinal of the 2020 WTA tournament in St. Petersburg, Rybakina beat the Greek 3-6 7-5 6-1.
Sakkari will be well rested going into the match. Her round of 16 opponent, Daria Saville (nee Gavrilova), retired at 4-1 with a thigh injury. For the quarterfinal, Sakkari is ready for a tough fight. She told the press, “Rybakina is one of the best servers on the game. I know what she likes, what she doesn’t like. She likes to hit hard. I’m just going to try and make her life tough.”
For her part, Rybakina will make use of her biggest weapon and adapt to the local courts and atmosphere: “It’s very difficult conditions. You cannot get free points. You have to rally more. For me it’s just more attention on the serve. Even though here it’s slow, you can still place the ball well and open an opportunity to hit the winners or just be aggressive in the point.” The head-to-head favors the Kazakh, but she knows she will need every advantage she can get.
Paula Badosa  vs. Veronika Kudermetova 
Each of the three times these two have played, Kudermetova walked away with the win. This includes in the first round of qualifying at Indian Wells in 2019. Since then, Badosa has greatly improved and risen up the ranks, returning to the desert tournament now as defending champion.
Though they’ve played twice in the interim, a lot has changed since their last meeting here. Badosa told the press, “I was very bad mentally. I wasn’t a fighter. Like maybe two years ago I was struggling a lot […] It was like a goal for me personally and a challenge that I did myself, to fight every point no matter what, no matter my feelings in the match.”
Kudermetova has been playing the tournament with incredible focus. She beat Naomi Osaka 6-0 6-4 in the second round, through controversial breaks in play as Osaka dealt with a heckler and the WTA supervisor was called to the court. Kudermetova maintained her composure throughout that match, telling the media after, “every morning I step on the court, I try to do my best. I try to improve. That gives me confidence. When I step on the court today, I know behind my shoulder I have a lot of good practice, a lot of good matches. It’s given me really more belief in myself.”