Simona Halep vs. Karolina Pliskova, Madrid QF Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, QF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇨🇿 (6) Karolina Pliskova

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the Mutua Madrid Open. This has historically been a very successful match-up for Halep, the Romanian holds a dominant 6-1 H2H record over Pliskova. There have been no signs that Halep’s incredible winning streak in Madrid is coming to an end any time soon, the 2-time defending champion will however face her greatest test of the tournament thus far against Pliskova who is in great form herself, can Pliskova cause a big upset?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Halep has cruised into the quarter-finals in Madrid without dropping a set. The world number 1 has now won 15 matches in a row in Madrid and is 3 wins away from becoming the first player to win the title in Madrid on 3 separate occasions, it would also be the first time Halep has won the same tournament on 3 occasions. Halep has claimed straight set wins over Ekaterina Makarova, Elise Mertens and Kristyna Pliskova, the Romanian never really looked troubled in any of those matches and looms as the strong favourite to win the title from here.

Karolina Pliskova is currently on a surprising 8-match winning streak on clay, the surface that has widely been considered her weakest. Pliskova has proven over the last 12 months that her game can work on clay, the 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist and recently crowned Stuttgart champion has certainly improved her movement and defensive capabilities on clay. Pliskova has come through a tough draw to reach the quarter-final stage in Madrid for the first time, the 6th seed started the week with a straight set win over Elena Vesnina before battling past Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets in what was a significant win for the Czech. Pliskova confirmed her spot in the final 8 with a clinical 6-2 6-3 thrashing of Sloane Stephens.

As mentioned above it is Halep who holds a dominant 6-1 head-to-head record over Pliskova. The previous matches between these two have shown that Halep is able to read the Pliskova serve better than anyone else on tour. Halep comfortably defeated Pliskova in their most recent match at the Australian Open earlier this year, an easy 6-3 6-2 victory. Halep has won the last 3 matches between the pair and 5 of her 6 wins over Pliskova were in straight sets. The signs are ominous for Pliskova.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Sloane Stephens, Madrid R3 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, R3 Preview
🇨🇿 (6) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇺🇸 (9) Sloane Stephens

Two of the form players on the WTA tour will collide at the third round stage of the Mutua Madrid Open when Karolina Pliskova takes on Sloane Stephens on Wednesday. Pliskova and Stephens have both won big titles in recent times, Pliskova won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart whilst Stephens won the Miami Open. Pliskova and Stephens have both already had significant wins in Madrid and will both enter this clash full of confidence, who will prevail?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Karolina Pliskova is on a 7-match winning streak, on clay! Pliskova arrived in Madrid on a high after winning the title in Stuttgart, her biggest tile on a clay court. The 2017 Roland Garros semi-finalist has clearly dramatically improved her game on clay over the last few years and is not to be ignored on this surface. Pliskova started her Madrid campaign with a comfortable straight set win over Elena Vesnina before battling past Victoria Azarenka 6-2 1-6 7-5. Pliskova showed great mental strength to outlast Azarenka in a tight final set where both had chances to take control, Pliskova’s great serving under pressure and discipline from the baseline gave her the edge and allowed to claim a significant win.

Sloane Stephens has stormed through her first couple of matches in Madrid. The American eased past Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Samantha Stosur to secure her spot in the third round in Madrid for the first time in her career. Stephens has made great progress over the last few months after a slow start to the year, If the reigning U.S Open champion can consistently bring her a-game she will be competing for the biggest titles over the next few months.

Stephens has won the only previous matches between the pair, both in straight sets. 6-2 6-2 at Wimbledon in 2012 and 6-3 6-2 in Beijing in 2015.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Prague R1 Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, R1 Preview
🇨🇿 (1) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇨🇿 Kristyna Pliskova

The Pliskova twins will go head-to-head for the first time since 2013 when they meet at the opening round stage in Prague. It is Karolina who enters this clash on a high fresh off winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Whilst the locals will be looking forward to this clash, the Pliskova’s certainly are not, this will be an awkward encounter as both have indicated that they do not like this match-up. Both have had previous success in Prague, Karolina won the event in 2015 whilst Kristyna was the runner-up in 2017.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during the final of the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Karolina Pliskova made the ideal start to her 2018 clay court season by claiming her 10th title as she won in Stuttgart, her biggest title on a clay court. The highlight of Pliskova’s week in Stuttgart was her strong serving, Pliskova served 52 aces which was the most aces anyone has served in 1 tournmant in 2018. It was a tough week for Pliskova, she was forced to beat 4 top 30 opponents on route to the title, a 7-6 6-4 win over CoCo Vandeweghe in the final secured her first title of the year.

Kristyna Pliskova also made a good start to her 2018 clay court season a few weeks ago where she claimed a couple of big wins on route to the quarter-final stage in Charleston. Kristyna claimed 3 upset wins in a row in Charleston, beating Katerina Siniakova, Petra Kvitova and Elena Vesnina to reach the quarter-finals before succumbing to Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets. More recently Kristyna suffered a straight set loss at the hands of Camila Giorgi in Lugano.

It is Karolina who holds a slight 5-4 H2H record over Kristyna. The pair have only met on one occasion at the WTA level, a 7-6 3-6 6-3 win for Kristyna on grass in Eastbourne way back in 2013. Clearly it is Karolina who has been the far better player over the last few years but in a match-up with little margin, an upset is still a possibility.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. CoCo Vandeweghe, 🏆 Stuttgart Final Preview

Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 🏆 Stuttgart Final Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) CoCo Vandeweghe

A surprise final in Stuttgart will feature Karolina Pliskova and CoCo Vandeweghe, two players that are not expected to be featuring on the final day of a big clay court event. The Stuttgart courts have proven to be a haven for the big server over the last week. Pliskova and Vandeweghe have both been extremely strong behind their serves on route to the final. The serve is the biggest weapon for both players, when that shot is firing both are very dangerous. Expect to see a close final with few breaks of serve.

Coco Vandeweghe of the United States in action during her semi-final match at the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

It has been a long, successful week for Pliskova in Stuttgart. Pliskova started the week in Stuttgart in Fed Cup action where the Czech Republic beat Germany to reach yet another final. Pliskova started her PTGP campaign with a comfortable win over Kiki Bertens before blasting 15 aces past Veronika Kudermetova in the second round. Pliskova’s biggest test came at the quarter-final stage where she rallied from a set down to beat Jelena Ostapenko 5-7 7-5 6-4. Pliskova booked her spot in her first final of the season with a reasonably comfortable 6-4 6-2 over Anett Kontaveit. What has stood out has been Pliskova’s improved movement and ability to defend, especially in her last two matches against powerful opposition.

CoCo Vandeweghe has been surprisingly impressive this week. Vandeweghe herself admitted earlier in the week that she will probably never like clay, perhaps she will change her mind after this week? Vandeweghe started the event with a straight set drubbing of Sloane Stephens before battling past defending champion Laura Siegemund 6-4 4-6 6-3. Vandeweghe claimed back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents to reach her first final of the year, a 6-4 6-1 win over Simona Halep and 6-4 6-2 over Caroline Garcia. When Vandeweghe is on a roll she is hard to stop but her record at the pointy end of big events is not great.

Vandeweghe heads into Sunday’s final with a 3-2 H2H record over Pliskova. Vandeweghe has won 3 of the last 4 matches between the pair and has proven to be a frustrating opponent for Pliskova in recent times. This was especially true during their latest match where Pliskova suffered a frustrating 6-7 3-6 loss at the hands of the American at the quarter-final stage of the U.S Open. What is in Pliskova favour is the fact she won their only previous match on clay, a 7-6 6-4 win In Stuttgart last year.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Anett Kontaveit, Stuttgart SF Preview

Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart SF #2 Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇪🇪 Anett Kontaveit

Karolina Pliskova and Anett Kontaveit will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet in Saturday’s second semi-final for the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart. Pliskova and Kontaveit both booked their spot in the semi-finals with hard-fought 3 set victories, both are match-hardened and full of confidence heading into this match. This looks like a great opportunity for both to reach their first final of 2018, both will see this as a winnable match, who will step up and grab this opportunity?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action in her quarter-final match at the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Karolina Pliskova has continued her incredibly consistent start to the season this week in Stuttgart. Pliskova has reached at least the quarter-final stage at 6 of the 7 events she has competed in this year, however she is yet to make it all the way to a final. Pliskova started her Stuttgart campaign with an impressive 6-2 6-2 demolition of Kiki Bertens before hitting 15 aces on route to a 7-6 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova. Pliskova booked her spot in the final 4 with a gutsy 5-7 7-5 6-4 win over Jelena Ostapenko. It is clear that Pliskova has improved her game on clay, especially her movement and ability to defend.

Anett Kontaveit arrived in Stuttgart with 4 consecutive losses to her name and seemingly very little confidence. The Estonian has been able to get over the line in a couple of tough matches this week and had a little fortune along the way to reach her first semi-final of the year. Kontaveit started the week with a 5-7 7-6 7-6 win over Kristina Mladenovic before benefiting from the retirement of Angelique Kerber it the second round. Kontaveit booked her spot in the final 4 via a marathon 3-hour 7-5 6-7 6-3 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Kontaveit has done well to get through 2 very tight matches this week.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in what will be the first career meeting between the pair.

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Jelena Ostapenko vs. Karolina Pliskova, Stuttgart QF Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart QF Preview
🇱🇻 (4) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova

The fourth and final quarter-final on Friday in Stuttgart is the pick of the bunch as the reigning Roland Garros champion comes up against an in-form Karolina Pliskova. Ostapenko and Pliskova are both playing great tennis in recent times, both will head into this match with a heap of confidence and an aggressive attitude, expect an exciting match between two big hitters.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Jelena Ostapenko kick-started her Stuttgart campaign in style with a commanding 6-3 6-0 win over Zarina Diyas. It took Ostapenko a while to get going but once she found her rhythm she proved to be a class above Diyas. Ostapenko has now won 8 of her last 9 matches, the Latvian has certainly turned a corner after making a slow start to the year.

Karolina Pliskova is having a great week in Stuttgart. Pliskova was involved in the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup semi-final over Germany at the weekend and is now into her 7th quarter-final in 2018 at her 7th event. Pliskova started the event with a commanding 6-2 6-2 win over Kiki Bertens before beating Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 6-3. Pliskova fired a huge 15 aces past Kudermetova in her second round win.

Pliskova holds a 2-1 H2H record over Ostapenko. The pair played out a memorable match at the Australian Open last year which Pliskova won 10-8 in the third set. More recently Ostapenko thrashed Pliskova 6-3 6-1 at the WTA finals last year (in what was actually a dead rubber).

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Karolina Pliskova vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka will open the night session on Wednesday when they go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of the BNP Paribas Open. This promises to be an exciting encounter between two of the most aggressive, powerful players on tour. Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to reach the semi-final stage in Indian Wells for the third year in a row whilst Osaka will be aiming to reach the final 4 at a premier mandatory level event for the first time.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova arrived in Indian Wells on the back of a disappointing Middle Eastern swing, importantly the Czech has been able to gain some much needed momentum at the BNP Paribas Open. Pliskova is into the quarter-final stage in Indian Wells for the third consecutive year thanks to wins over Irina-Camelia Begu, Shuai Zhang and Amanda Anisimova. Clearly it has been a favourable draw for Pliskova and she has not necessarily been playing at her best but has been good enough to work her way into the business end of the tournament.

Naomi Osaka is having one of her most impressive tournaments, reaching the quarter-final stage at a premier mandatory event for the first time. Osaka started the event with a big 6-4 6-4 upset win over 2-time former champion Maria Sharapova. Osaka back-up that win nicely with straight set wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka confirmed her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. Osaka has certainly improved her consistency and stability in matches, that has been on show in Indian Wells.

The only previous match between the pair took place at the Rogers Cup last week. Pliskova was ahead 6-2 6-7 1-0 before Osaka retired injured. This is an interesting match-up given the explosive power that both ladies possess, a first strikes tennis battle.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Amanda Anisimova, Indian Wells R4 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R4 Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) Amanda Anisimova

Karolina Pliskova will look to end the surprise run of 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova when the pair meet at the fourth round stage of the BNP Paribas Open. Anisimova has defied the odds to reach the fourth round stage of the year’s first premier mandatory event having never previously won a main tour level match before this event. Can the young American keep her dream run alive or will Pliskova be too strong?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova has advanced to the final 16 in Indian Wells thanks to a pair of hard-fought wins. Pliskova received a bye through the opening round before claiming a 7-6 6-1 win over Irina-Camelia Begu, Pliskova made a really slow start to that match but saved a few set points as she recovered from a 1-5 first set deficit. The 5th seed secured her spot in the round of 16 with a 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over Shuai Zhang. Pliskova was up a set and break and looked destined for a straight set win but found herself getting the job done the hard way. Pliskova has reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells in the previous two years and given the state of the draw she will fancy her chances to do the same thing in 2018.

Amanda Anisimova is having the best week of her young tennis career. Anisimova arrived in Indian Wells in great form having come through the qualifying draw to reach the semi-finals at the Indian Wells 125K event last week. Anisimova has rocketed through the draw this week, beating much more credentialed opponents. Anisimova started the event with a 6-2 6-2 win over Pauline Parmentier before beating an out of form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-1. It was in the third round where the 16-year-old made her biggest move, putting a stop to Petra Kvitova’s 14-match winning streak with a huge 6-2 6-4 victory.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair, whilst there are almost 150 places between them in the rankings, Anisimova has proven that means little so far in Indian Wells.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Angelique Kerber, Dubai QF Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF Preview
🇨🇿 (3) Karolina Pliskova vs 🇩🇪 (6) Angelique Kerber

Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday. It is Kerber who has had the better of this match-up in recent times and the German is seemingly in much better form heading into this match. Nevertheless, matches between these two have traditionally been very close, the contrast in styles between the two often brings out the best in each other.

Pliskova arrived in Dubai fresh off a very disappointing early round exit in Doha last week. Pliskova failed to come close to defending her title in Doha, losing in the third round to Catherine Bellis, one of Pliskova’s most disappointing defeats in recent times. The third seed seemed to be heading for a similar fate in Dubai when she dropped the opening set in her first round match against Carla Suarez Navarro, Pliskova managed to steady and claim an important 5-7 6-2 6-4 victory over the Spaniard.

Angelique Kerber has been the most consistent player in 2018 and arguably the most impressive. Kerber has amassed an 18/2 win/loss record across all competitions in 2018, the German was in a winning position in both of the matches she has lost this year: against Halep at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open and against Wozniacki at the quarter-final stage in Doha last week. The 6th seed has progressed to the quarter-finals in Dubai thanks to a couple of fairly comfortable straight set wins over Barbora Strycova and Sara Errani.

Kerber holds a 6-3 head-to-head record over Pliskova and has won 4 of the last 5 matches between the pair. The most recent match between the two took place in Tokyo last year where Kerber won 7-6 7-5. Can Kerber continue her recent dominance over Pliskova?

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Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova, Australian Open QF Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 Quarter-Final Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs 🇨🇿 (6) Karolina Pliskova

The pick of the quarter-final match-ups at Melbourne Park sees the top seeded Simona Halep take on the 6th seeded Karolina Pliskova. Heading into the new year, Halep and Pliskova were two of the main contenders to claim maiden Grand Slam titles. Halep and Pliskova now have the Australian Open title within touching distance, who will step up and take control of this crucial quarter-final clash? It has been Halep who has been fairly dominant in this match-up, the Romanian heads into this match with a 5-2 record over Pliskova. Can the Czech turn things around on Wednesday or will Halep again be too strong?

Embed from Getty Images

Simona Halep has an unbeaten 9-0 record in 2018 after arriving in Melbourne on the back of winning the Shenzhen title. It has been a dramatic week for Halep as she has fought her way into the quarter-final stage at the Australian Open for the third time. The Romanian suffered a major scare in the opening round when she badly rolled her ankle in a tough victory over Destanee Aiava. Halep has been able to manage her ankle injury well, the Romanian’s biggest test came in the third round where she saved match points on route to an epic 4-6 6-4 15-13 victory over Lauren Davis. There were big questions marks around how Halep would recover from that win over Davis, Halep squashed those question marks, producing her best performance of the tournament to beat Naomi Osaka 6-3 6-2 to reach the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam for the 10th time.

Karolina Pliskova is into the Australian Open quarter-final stage for the second time, having reached this stage last year where she was upset by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Pliskova was untroubled in her first couple of matches at Melbourne Park, cruising past Veronica Cepede Royg and Beatriz Haddad Maia in straight sets. Pliskova’s last couple of matches were very tough against a pair of Fed Cup teammates. The 6th seed battled past Lucie Safarova 7-6 7-5 in the third round before confirming her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-7 6-3 6-2 win over Barbora Strycova. Pliskova’s win over Strycova was particularly impressive, after falling behind a set past midnight against a challenging opponent, it seemed like the odds were against Pliskova. However, Pliskova rebounded strongly and dominated the next two sets to claim an important victory.

It is Simona Halep who holds a 5-2 head-to-head record over Pliskova. Halep has won 4 of the 6 meeting between the pair on a hard court and has won their two most recent matches.