The final day of the BNP Paribas Open will feature a classic rivalry in the men's final as well as a battle between two veteran stars in the women's championship.
Flavia Pennetta will try to continue an impressive run throughout the tournament to win her first title since 2010. However, this will not be easy with Agnieszka Radwanska playing as well as anyone in the world at this point. The Polish star has reached three semifinals this year, but she is looking for her first title.
In the men's tournament, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry after escaping what had been an upset-filled event. On the other hand, Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times points out a lack of parity at big tournaments:
With Federer or Djokovic set to win #BNPPO14, Big Four have will have won 28 of last 29 Masters 1000s. So much for best-of-3 causing upsets.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 15, 2014
Still, there will be plenty of drama in both matches. Here is a look at what to expect during the final day of action at Indian Wells.
|Date||Sunday, March 16|
|Time (Women's Final)||3 p.m. ET|
|Time (Men's Final)||After Women's Final, Not Before 5 p.m. ET|
|Where||Indian Wells, Calif.|
No. 20 Flavia Pennetta vs. No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska
Pennetta is coming off one of her biggest wins in a long time, as she upset top-seeded Li Na in the semifinals. It only took two sets to earn the victory, but it was never easy, as neither athlete could win points with the serve.
Li ended up totaling nine double faults in the loss, as Pennetta managed six breaks in the win. This strong performance has the Italian veteran satisfied with her overall effort, telling the media after her recent victory, "In the beginning of the week if you told me, 'You're going to make the final here,' I would have said, 'Mmmm, I don't think so!' So I'm really happy. I'm happy with my game," via CNN.com.
The problem is that she still has work to do to come away with a tournament title. Based on how Radwanska has performed lately, this match could be even tougher.
Beyond the Baseline points out that the No. 3 player in the world is not only at the top of her game physically but also mentally:
But that was an incredibly smart match from Radwanska. Tactics from both were constantly changing, but she was clearer with her intention.— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 15, 2014
In the semifinal win over Simona Halep, Radwanska had zero double faults and kept her unforced errors to a minimum. Her ability to avoid mistakes is forcing opponents to make superior shots to get points.
This will continue in the finals, as she earns her first victory of 2014.
Prediction: Radwanska wins 7-6(3), 6-2
No. 7 Roger Federer vs. No. 2 Novak Djokovic
The seeds tell you that Djokovic would hold the advantage in this matchup, especially with Federer getting up there in age. However, it is clear from watching the recent play of each competitor that Federer is playing better at this stage.
Rothenberg noted how well the Swiss star performed in his semifinal victory:
Roger Federer in startlingly vintage form, turning back the clock then racing against it to beat Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-1 in just 61 min #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 15, 2014
On the other hand, Beyond the Baseline was less encouraged by Djokovic's match against John Isner:
Novak Djokovic finally gets it done, wins 75 67 61 over Isner. Another Federer-Djokovic rematch and Fed looks the more in-form guy. #bnppo14— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 15, 2014
Federer defeated Djokovic a few weeks earlier in Dubai, and the Serbian did not seem too confident when discussing the upcoming match. He explained, via ATPWorldTour.com:
He played great in Dubai. We had a tough, interesting match in semi-finals. Whenever we play each other it's always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner. I do not expect anything less tomorrow. I just hope for myself that I will be able to perform on a high level, because I'm going to need to do that in order to get a chance to win against him.
Djokovic has needed three sets to beat his opponents in three of the five rounds at Indian Wells, as he appears to be struggling with consistency. He will have one flawless serving game and then clearly struggle to find his accuracy.
Federer has had no such issues, as he is performing as well as he has in years with the serve. He is keeping the balls in play and remaining aggressive, forcing his opponent to make plays to survive.
Based on what we have seen the past few tournaments, Federer has the advantage, and he should come away with the close victory.
Prediction: Federer wins 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.