Before each day's play at Indian Wells, we'll preview a pair of must-see matches. Our breakdowns will also include each players' UTR. What is UTR? Go to our Tennis Magazine feature and learn more.
Venus Williams (USA) - WTA No. 36, UTR No. 53 (12.83)
Andrea Petkovic (GER) - WTA No. 68, UTR No. 40 (12.89)
Venus Williams enters the BNP Paribas Open with 390 points to defend after her semifinal run in the California desert a year ago. Her tournament begins against the athletic, hard-hitting German, Andrea Petkovic. All of their meetings have gone three sets, with Venus owning a 2-1 advantage. (Venus also retired down 0-1 in the first set at the 2011 Australian Open.)
While Venus is definitely more comfortable at net than Petkovic, both players play an attacking, all-court brand of tennis. They each stand around 6'0'' and cover a lot of court with long strides and large wingspans. Whoever has the better serving day should win, as both players rely on free points on serve to compliment their crushing ground games. The pressure is on Venus to avoid a further dip down the rankings, so look for the 38-year-old to be locked in from the start and move forward to the second round.
Alison Riske vs. Alison Van Uytvanck
Alison Riske (USA) - WTA No. 46, UTR No. 25 (13.02)
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) - WTA No. 51, UTR No. 78 (12.66)
This battle of Alisons features two of the hardest-hitting players on tour. Both are currently in fantastic form. The American Riske currently sits at No. 21 in three-month trending UTR (13.11). Her opponent, Belgium's Van Uytvanck, rides a five-match win streak after winning WTA Budapest two weeks ago.
Both players will look to establish themselves as the aggressor, but on the slow, gritty hard courts of Indian Wells, it might be difficult to take control with just one shot. These courts reward players with good spin production, as a heavy ball jumps off of the court. Turning defense into offense will be paramount in this match.
All of Van Uytvanck’s titles have come on indoor hard courts in very fast conditions. Look for Riske, who likes fast surfaces herself, to prevail in a physical battle outside.