Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus,reacts after scoring a point against Garbine Muguruza, of Spain, during the third round of the US Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
- No. 19 seed Jessica Pegula is the favorite against Victoria Azarenka in their Indian Wells quarterfinal
- Azarenka, a two-time champion, is by far the most experienced in a wide-open final eight
- The match goes around 6:00 pm ET. Read on for analysis and predictions
Only two of the top 10 pre-tournament favorites survived to the women’s final eight at the BNP Paribas Open.
And Jessica Pegula (at +2000 going in) is one of them.
Victoria Azarenka wasn’t even in the top 20. But the two-time Indian Wells champion has serious desert cred ahead of what looks to be a lengthy battle between well-matched ball strikers in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Victoria Azarenka vs Jessica Pegula Odds
| Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+0.5 (-110)||+100||O 21.5 (-115)|
| Jessica Pegula (USA)||-0.5 (-125)||-125||U 21.5 (-115)|
Odds as of Oct. 13 at DraftKings
Azarenka’s Moments in the Desert
The BNP Paribas Open has always been a pretty good place for Azarenka, who first played it all the way back in 2006 when it was still called the Pacific Life Open.
She’s won it twice (2012 and 2016). She’s made another semifinal. And when she’s lost, it was to the top players of the day or because of an injury issue.
So it’s a happy place for her.
BNP Paribas Open Women’s Singles Odds – Final Eight
|||Anett Kontaveit (EST)||+400|
|||Jessica Pegula (USA)||+450|
|||Paula Badosa (ESP)||+500|
|||Ons Jabeur (TUN)||+500|
|||Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)||+550|
|||Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+600|
|||Angelique Kerber (GER)||+700|
|–||Shelby Rogers (USA)||+1200|
Pegula a Favorite Among Final Eight
The respect from oddsmakers before Indian Wells was a bit of a surprise given Pegula’s ranking and previous lack of success.
But she has made good on it.
The 27-year-old hasn’t come close to dropping a set in her first three matches. Her emphatic dismissal of No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina in the round of 16 – 6-1, 6-1 – took just an hour and eight minutes.
Pegula didn’t face a single break point; she broke Svitolina five times, in 14 opportunities.
These kinds of upsets are not that unusual in mid-October. But the fact that there is, unusually, a WTA 1000 event at this point of the season highlights that on a grander scale.
Pegula will be at a new career-high on Monday. And she’s done all this with her wedding scheduled to take place in less than two weeks.
Victoria Azarenka vs Jessica Pegula Head-to-Head
|32 (July 31, 1989)||Age||27 (Feb. 23, 1994)|
|Minsk, Belarus||Birthplace||Buffalo, NY|
|21||Career WTA Singles Titles||1|
|2||Career Grand Slam Titles||0|
|No. 1 (Jan. 29, 2012)||Career High Ranking||No. 23 (Sept. 19, 2021)|
|No. 32||Current Ranking||No. 24|
|$33,133,916||Career Prize Money||$2,612,810|
|26-8||2021 Won/Loss record||39-18|
|1||Career Head to Head||1|
Azarenka Dismisses Upstart Countrywoman
On a day when the wind made conditions extremely challenging, Azarenka couldn’t muster a 50-percent first-serve rate against countrywoman Aliaksandra Sasnovich Tuesday in the round of 16.
But Azarenka did everything else right. She munched on Sasnovich’s second serve (winning nearly 75-percent of those points). She broke serve six times in nine chances. and she saved 5-of-8 break point chances on her own serve.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich has already beaten two Slam champions to make the #BNPPO21 R16. Now she gets a third, her 1st meeting against compatriot Victoria Azarenka.
For Sasnovich, Azarenka is one of the best tactical players on tour: pic.twitter.com/KzoYjHo30j
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 11, 2021
Sasnovich had done Azarenka a huge service in the earlier rounds by upsetting both US Open champion Emma Raducanu and former No. 1 Simona Halep.
Azarenka will attempt to inflict the same kind of damage on Pegula’s second serve because once they get into rallies, the American can more than hold her own.
Victoria Azarenka vs Jessica Pegula Match History
|2021||Berlin (QF)||Grass||6-2, 5-7, 6-4||Azarenka|
|2021||Madrid (R32)||Outdoor Clay||WALKOVER||Pegula|
|2021||Australian Open (R128)||Outdoor Hard||7-5, 6-4||Pegula|
Head-to-Head Dead Even
There’s not much to glean from the previous meetings between the two, all of them in 2021.
Their clash on grass in Berlin – as different from the Indian Wells conditions as can be – was a very close contest, won narrowly by Azarenka.
They also met in the first round of the Australian Open. Just eight months ago, Azarenka was seeded No. 12, and Pegula was unseeded.
Pegula prevailed in two close sets.
Coming into this year, Pegula had played Indian Wells five times, but only made the main draw twice (in 2019, she had a wild card). And she had only won one main-draw match.
Still, she’s the favorite coming into this one.
Azarenka’s significant success and experience in the desert – and the fact that a huge title is there for the taking – might well make the difference.
But it’s likely to take a while. The odds for it to go three sets sit at +130.
Best Bet: Azarenka in three sets (+400)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.