By Ros Satar, at the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells
- Bianca Andreescu [WC] v Elina Svitolina 
- Belinda Bencic  v Angelique Kerber 
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA, USA – The challengers to the WTA thrones do battle with the old(er) guard as the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals are set.
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Bianca Andreescu [WC] v Elina Svitolina  | First Meeting
Canadian wildcard Bianca Andreescu has been impressing on her debut in Indian Wells and is the last of the remaining wildcards standing in the draw. She will face No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina, who is on her best run here in the desert.
It has not been a complete breeze for the teenager, who models her game on Simona Halep. Having come from a set down against Irina Camelia Begu, she has since been on superb form and has capably backed up her run last week to the Acapulco semi-final.
On the other side of the net. Svitolina may not be that old herself but has bags of experience and is looking to back up her most prestigious title to date, when she battled her way to the WTA Finals title in Singapore last year.
Again, she has faced quite a test herself, rallying from 1-3 down in the decider against Ashleigh Barty in the longest match so far this year, at three hours 12 minutes. It was another comeback for the consistent Ukrainian having to come back from a set down to another fearless up-and-comer in Marketa Vondrousova.
Andreescu certainly can mirror the aggressive style of play of her role model, Halep. And has proved to be very effective at the net – her variety and athleticism around the court prevented Muguruza from getting any kind of rhythm on her points.
Against a steady player like Svitolina, she could do damage if she pulls the Ukrainian to the net – but experience and consistency can undo the youngster if Svitolina still has the wheels after a couple of tough rounds.
It would be an amazing continuation of a run for Andreescu who has nothing to lose in this encounter, and fatigue might play a part here for Svitolina.
Prediction: Andreescu in three sets
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Belinda Bencic  v Angelique Kerber  | Bencic leads 3-1
We could be forgiven for thinking that Belinda Bencic has been around for ages. A very promising junior, she made a very impressive transition into the big-leagues, at the age of 18 she beat the then World No. 1 Serena Williams in Toronto 2015. A rash of injuries saw her having to return to the lower tiers to mount her comeback, and since wrist surger in 2017, she looks like she is fast in the way to re-establishing herself firmly back in the Top 20.
Although overall Angelique Kerber has managed to level their head to head by way f two exhibitions in Hopman Cup, it is a tour deficit of 1-3 that the rebounding German is looking to redress.
One thing that has always impressed by Bencic is her use of tactics, even at a young age. This has only grown with her admitting that she has been working hard on her defensive tennis this well and all her opponents have noted that her ability to take the ball on the rise has been most effective in the desert air.
Kerber has been as steady as always where her defensive play has been concerned. Her grit and determination, no matter what her body language might portray, has git her through some sticky moments, in particular coming through a tricky three-setter against Aryna Sabalenka and in the match before against Natalia Vikhlyantseva.
The head would see Kerber prevailing, but the heart thinks another notch in Bencic’s current 12-match winning streak would also be a worthy story to tell.
Prediction: Bencic in three sets.
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