In the lower half semifinal, 27th seed Victoria Azarenka faces 24th seed Jelena Ostapenko. Both players have hit a run of form and have a chance to pick up a big title to return them to former glory.
These two have met once before in singles tournaments, at the 2019 Roland Garros. Azarenka won this meeting in two sets; 6-4, 7-6.
Azarenka is one of nine women to have won Indian Wells twice, she beat Sharapova in 2012 and Serena Williams in 2016.
Azarenka is also a player with good results, she’s a former world number one with two grand slams. 2021 hasn’t been her greatest season, having failed to win a tournament since cincinnati 2020. Her best result in a masters 1000 this year was a quarterfinal in Miami, she also made the fourth round in Roland Garros as her best grand slam this year.
Ostapenko has never been beyond the third round at Indian Wells before.
Ostapenko is also a grand slam winner, with the 2017 Roland Garros, she’s a former world number five. 2021 has been tough for her too, but she’s had some success in the WTA 250s. She won Eastbourne and made the final of Luxembourg, her best result in a masters 1000 was a quarterfinal in Rome, she made the third round in Wimbledon as her best grand slam this year.
Both have had mixed difficulties in their route to the semifinal.
Azarenka beat Linette, seventh seed Kvitova, Sasnovich, who upset US Open champion Raducanu, and 19th seed Pegula, all in straight sets.
Ostapenko beat Hsieh, Putintseva, second seed Swiatek, and giant slayer Rogers, with the last of those going to three sets.
Both players are powerful, Ostapenko prefers a high risk style. Azarenka prefers to use her might from safety, Azarenka is also a hard court specialist.
Winning this match would give Azarenka a chance to become the first and only three time winner.
If Ostapenko won, she would become the first Latvian woman in the final of Indian Wells.
There is evidence to suggest either player could win; Ostapenko seems to have the form, and she has the higher seed. However, the history of the event as well as their last match suggest Azarenka will make her third final. She might have had poor form in previous tournaments, but straight sets at Indian Wells says that might be behind her.
Finally, it’s worth noting that if Azarenka can beat a French Open winner at the site of her greatest victory, surely she can beat her on the surface she specialises in.