By Ros Satar
- Aljaz Bedene v Mikhail Youzhny – H2H: Bedene leads 1-0
- Heather Watson v Monica Niculescu – H2H: Watson leads 1-0
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Aljaz Bedene starts his Indian Wells campaign, while Heather Watson faces Monica Niculescu in the second round.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Aljaz Bedene v Mikhail Youzhny – H2H: Bedene leads 1-0
Bedene, who spent some time practicing along side the GB Davis Cup team over last weekend, bids to progress past the first round for the first time in three visits, on Friday.
After a spirited start to the season with a run to the Chennai semi-final, his record has been less than stellar, losing in straight sets in the Australian Open first round, and embarking on a four match losing streak since Chennai, that he only snapped in Acapulco.
Former Top 10 player Mikhail Youzhny has had some struggles of his own, dropping to the Challengers, where he won in Manila, before coming through Dubai qualification only to fall in the first round.
It is fair to say that perhaps the Russian is not the player he once was, and that Bedene is likely to have a little more spring in his step when he faces him, knowing that he won their last encounter on hard courts pretty easily.
It could still be a tricky match up. At his best, the Russian has powerful groundstrokes on both sides, albeit maybe a little weaker on the forehand side, but Bedene can expect to have a few free points off his serve and forehand combination.
Bedene and Youzhny are scheduled on Stadium 3 at 11am (7pm).
Heather Watson v Monica Niculescu – H2H: Watson leads 1-0
Watson is enjoying a fabulous run of form and whatever it is – whether it be sun on her back, or her mother by her side, she needs to bottle it and make it work for her some more.
She has been working on being far more aggressive and it is working in spades at the moment, and she should feel encouraged by the fact that she beat Niculescu in their only meeting so far earlier this year in Hobart. There she was defending her title, and it was a decent start to the year for the Guernsey girl, making it to the quarter-final.
Since snapping her losing streak since that match, she has won six games on the spin, and although this could be a tricky three setter again, confidence comes with gutsing out these tough matches.
With Niculescu not having played since Doha, there is no doubt that Watson is match-sharp, and well placed to scramble around the court to deal with Niculescu’s unconventional shots and variety.
We expect this to be a tough three setter, but Watson to have the edge.
Watson and Niculescu are scheduled third on Stadium Four, not expected before 2pm (10pm GMT).