Simon Reed

Clijsters will rule at Indian Wells

Simon Reed

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Even without the Williams sisters, the women's section of this year's WTA Indian Wells is going to be monumental.

We've got nine of the top 10 players in the world competing, and some of the key players are really starting to hit peak form now.

Kim Clijsters is back - albeit with minimal preparation, but she's Kim Clijsters! She's the best player in the world, and she's got a good draw too. I can see her progressing to the quarter-finals comfortably.

There's a good chance that Clijsters will gain rhythm and confidence as she advances through the tournament: so for me she'll go to California as the favourite, despite not having much match-play behind her.

It won't be a stroll for Clijsters though, as the world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, stands a good chance of picking up the trophy.

The Dane suffered a set-back in Doha, but for me she's getting better and better. Since the start of 2011, she's been playing the best tennis of her life, and she hasn't got a bad draw either.

I just don't see any real problems awaiting Wozniacki - though a potential fourth-round clash with Alisa Kleybanova could be a banana skin for her.

That said, I think Wozniacki will be too consistent for Kleybanova, so I can see her reaching the quarter-finals, where she could meet either Li Na or Maria Sharapova.

It's always tricky trying to assess Sharapova's form, but we know that the weapons are there if she has the confidence to execute the game she is capable of producing.

Looking at the overall draw, I think the semi-finalists will be Wozniacki, Kuznetsova, Clijsters and Zvonareva.

Vera's been playing with real consistency of late and, provided she gets past the tricky Dominika Cibulkova in the third round, I just don't see her getting beaten until the semi-finals.

However, despite the monumental field at Indian Wells, I can still only see one player winning it, and that's Clijsters.


Unfortunately for Britain, Heather Watson and Anne Keothavong are already out of contention after suffering first round qualifying defeats.

Keothavong's defeat was especially disappointing as it came against Puerto Rican wildcard Monica Puig, who is some 320 places below Anne in the world rankings.

It's important to see Keothavong as very much a work in progress, though, as she's still coming back from injury.

There are always going to be blips along the way, and I just hope that this setback will not affect her motivation.

At this stage in her career - she's 28, remember - any loss like that is going to be tough for her to take. Let's hope she bounces back quickly.

It's vital that her graph continues to head in the right direction this year. She can afford the odd blip, but she desperately needs to end the year firmly in the top 100.

Things like this happen, and Anne knows that. More importantly, she'll know the reasons why. I expect her to bounce back very quickly.

You can watch WTA Indian Wells: Sunday 18:15 LIVE on British Eurosport & Eurosport HD

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