Barbora Strycova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova, Birmingham SF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham SF Preview
🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova vs. 🇸🇰 Magdalena Rybarikova

Saturday’s first semi-final at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham features an interesting battle between Barbora Strycova and Magdalena Rybarikova, a match-up between two players that excel on grass. This is a vintage match-up between two versatile players that are very competent at the net and have deadly slice backhands, a grass court classic. The pair will both be aiming to reach a maiden final in 2018, who will rise to the occasion and book their spot in the final?

Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in action during the quarter-finals at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Barbora Strycova will be seeking a spot in a third final in Birmingham on Saturday. The Czech received an early lifeline in the tournament when she came back from the brink of defeat against Jennifer Brady in the first round, twice fighting from a set and a break down to claim a gutsy 3-6 7-5 6-3 victory. Strycova claimed a big upset in the second round as she fairly comfortably eliminated the top seeded Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-4 in what was one of her better performances of the season thus far. The 32-year-old led Lesia Tsurenko 7-5 3-0 in their quarter-final clash before the Ukrainian retired injured to hand Strycova a place in her first semi-final of 2018.

Magdalena Rybarikova’s recent record on grass is as good as most. The Slovakian famously reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year and is again showing her grass court prowess in Birmingham this week. Rybarikova started the week with a superb 6-2 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova before battling past Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 6-2 6-1. The 29-year-old secured her spot in her first semi-final of the 2018 with a fairly comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic.

Strycova holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Rybarikova. Strycova has won all 3 of their previous matches at the tour level. The pair met on 2 occasions last year, both ended in straight set wins for Strycova, 7-6 7-6 in Tokyo and 6-1 6-4 in the Linz final in what was their recent match.

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Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Dalila Jakupovic, Birmingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham QF Preview
🇸🇰 Magdalena Rybarikova vs. 🇸🇮 (Q) Dalila Jakupovic

Magdalena Rybarikova and Dalila Jakupovic will open proceedings on quarter-final day at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. This will be the first career meeting between Rybarikova and Jakupovic, an unexpected match-up at this stage of a premier level event. Who will rise to the occasion and book their spot in the semi-finals?

Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Magdalena Rybarikova has confirmed her grass court prowess in Birmingham this week. The 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist started the week with a 6-2 6-3 upset win over the 3rd seeded Karolina Pliskova in what was a near-flawless performance from the Slovakian. Rybarikova was not quite as impressive in the second round but was good enough to defeat a fading Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 6-2 6-1.

Dalila Jakupovic has already won 5 matches in Birmingham having come through the qualifying draw, the Slovenian is the last qualifier left in the tournament. Jakupovic claimed 3 solid wins in a tough qualifying draw, beating Jasmine Paolini, Sachia Vickery and Bernarda Pera. Jakupovic started her main draw campaign with a dramatic 3-6 7-6 6-1 win over Elise Mertens, Jakupovic saved 5 match points in the second set before cruising to victory in the third over a dejected opponent. Jakupovic secured her spot in the quarter-finals thanks to Naomi Osaka retiring injured their second round match.

Rybarikova enters this match as a strong favourite but Jakupovic is playing some of the best tennis of her career and has nothing to lose at this stage of the tournament.

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Barbora Strycova vs. Lesia Tsurenko, Birmingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham QF Preview
🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova vs. 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko

Barbora Strycova and Lesia Tsurenko will do battle in an unexpected quarter-final match-up in Birmingham. Strycova and Tsurenko both secured their places in the final 8 at the Nature Valley Classic with upset victories over seeded opponents, the pair will head into this match with confidence, both will see this as a winnable match. Who will prevail?

Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Lesia Tsurenko is into a third quarter-final in 2018. The Ukrainian has advanced to the final 8 in Birmingham thanks to a couple of solid victories, a 7-6 7-5 win over Heather Watson followed by a 1-6 6-3 6-3 defeat of the 6th seeded Daria Kasatkina. Once Tsurenko gets on a roll she can be dangerous, perhaps she can get on a roll in Birmingham.

Barbora Strycova secured her spot in the quarter-finals in Birmingham with yet another victory over Garbine Muguruza in what was her first top 10 victory of the season. Strycova was too solid for the top seeded Spaniard as she claimed a fairly comfortable 6-2 6-4 victory, her third consecutive win over reigning Wimbledon champion. In the opening round Strycova came from a set and a break down to defeat Jennifer Brady 3-6 7-5 6-3.

Surprisingly these two have only gone head-to-head on 1 previous occasion, Tsurenko won that match 6-3 6-0 in New Haven in 2015.

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Petra Kvitova vs. Julia Goerges, Birmingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham QF Preview
🇨🇿 (4) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇩🇪 (5) Julia Goerges

A blockbuster quarter-final in Birmingham sees the 4th seeded Petra Kvitova come up against the 5th seeded Julia Goerges. Kvitova has had the better of Goerges in recent times having won the last 4 matches between the pair, including 3 matches in 2018. Nevertheless, Goerges enters this match on high after a big win over Ash Barty in the previous round, can the German finally get the better of Kvitova?

Julia Goerges of Germany in action during the second round at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Petra Kvitova had made a commanding start to the grass court swing. Petra has breezed through her first few matches, a 6-3 6-4 win over Johanna Konta followed by a 6-2 6-2 demolition of Daria Gavrilova. Kvitova is arguably the form player on tour right now having won 15 of her last 16 matches, the 2-time former Wimbledon champion is arguably the tour’s most dangerous player on grass.

Julia Goerges caused a big upset in the second round where she claimed a 7-6 6-3 victory over the in-form Ash Barty. Goerges incredibly saved 7 set points in the opening set, luck was certainly on her side at the end of the opening set before she ran away with the match in the second set. The German claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Maria Sakkari in the opening round.

Kvitova holds a 5-1 head-to-head record over Goerges. The most recent match between the pair was in a Fed Cup tie earlier this year on an indoor clay court in Stuttgart, a 6-3 6-2 victory. This will be their first career meeting on a grass court.

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Elina Svitolina vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, Birmingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham QF Preview
🇺🇦 (2/wc) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇷🇴 Mihaela Buzarnescu

Elina Svitolina will get a shot at revenge when she comes up against Mihaela Buzarnescu at the quarter-final stage in Birmingham on Friday. Buzarnescu stunned Svitolina at Roland Garros a few weeks ago, the Romanian eliminated the tournament favourite at the third round stage in what was a devastating loss for the Ukrainian. Can Buzarnescu cause another upset on a surface Svitolina is seemingly vulnerable on?

Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Svitolina is having a good week in Birmingham, it is important for her to have a great in Birmingham to gain confidence on grass, a surface she has comparatively struggled on in the past. The second seed started the event with a topsy-turvy 3 set win over Donna Vekic before producing a much more consistent level to cruise by Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2. It is clear that Svitolina is trying to be far more aggressive which is certainly the right attitude on this surface.

Mihaela Buzarnescu is arguably the most improved player in 2018, at the age of 30! The Romanian is now into back-to-back quarter-finals on grass having reached the final 8 in Nottingham last week. Buzarnescu has made a habit of winning tight matches in recent times, that has been the case in Birmingham this week where she has claimed a couple of 3 set wins, a 6-3 4-6 6-0 win over Timea Babos and 4-6 6-3 6-2 over Petra Martic.

It was Buzarnescu who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-3 7-5 victory at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. If Buzarnescu can beat Svitolina on clay, she surely has a chance at beating her on grass a few weeks later?

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Petra Kvitova vs. Daria Gavrilova, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇨🇿 (4) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇦🇺 Daria Gavrilova

Petra Kvitova continues her title defense in Birmingham on Thursday with a potentially tricky second round clash against Australia’s Daria Gavrilova. The two-time Wimbledon champion is currently the favourite heading into Wimbledon and will look to build her form/confidence on the grass over the next couple of weeks. Gavrilova looms as a good test for Petra given the Aussie has won their two most recent matches.

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Kvitova kick-started her title defense in style in Birmingham as she came through a very tough opening round match-up unscathed, a 6-3 6-4 victory over British number 1 Johanna Konta. It was an impressive performance from Kvitova in her first match on grass in 2018, especially considering she was coming up against a battle hardened opponent who reached the finals in Nottingham a few days ago.

Gavrilova advanced to the second round in Birmingham with a hard-fought 6-3 7-6 victory over Dominika Cibulkova. Grass is a surface that Gavrilova has little experience on, a surface that is not really suited to the Aussie’s game. Nevertheless, Gavrilova does have a versatile game and has had success on quick hard courts in the past.

Gavrilova holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Kvitova. Gavrilova has won the two most recent matches between the pair, both in 2016. A 6-4 6-4 win at the Australian Open and a 6-3 6-4 win in Madrid. This will be their first meeting on grass, a surface heavily suits Kvitova.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Lesia Tsurenko, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇷🇺 (6) Daria Kasatkina vs. 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko

Daria Kasatkina and Lesia Tsurenko will go head-to-head for the first time on Thursday with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. Kasatkina and Tsurenko both claimed hard-fought opening round victories in Birmingham and will be ready for another battle here in a match-up that should feature a lot of lengthy rallies.

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Daria Kasatkina progressed to the second round in Birmingham with a gutsy 3-6 7-5 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova. Kasatkina was outplayed for the majority of the first two sets but received a lifeline when Pliskova failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set. Kasatkina managed the situation well, adapting her game to get the better of a very difficult opponent on an unfamiliar surface for the Russian.

Lesia Tsurenko earned her spot in the second round with a hard-fought 7-6 7-5 victory over Heather Watson. Tsurenko was the better player in the important moments, especially in a one-sided opening set tiebreak where Tsurenko barely put a foot wrong. The Ukrainian is a very streaky player, she has a tendency to randomly have great weeks, perhaps that will be the case in Birmingham?

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out as the pair do battle for the very first time.

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Garbine Muguruza vs. Barbora Strycova, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇪🇸 (1) Garbine Muguruza vs. 🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova

Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Strycova will renew hostilities when they meet at the second round stage of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on Thursday. Muguruza and Strycova had very contrasting opening round victories, Muguruza crushed Pavlyuchenkova whilst Strycova battled past Brady. Interestingly, Strycova has won the last two matches between the pair, can Strycova claim a third consecutive win over the Spaniard?

Garbine Muguruza of Spain in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Garbine Muguruza kickstarted her 2018 grass court campaign in style. The reigning Wimbledon champion thumped Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2 in just under hour. Muguruza did not face a break point throughout the match, a clinical serving performance from the top seed.

Barbora Strycova advanced to the second round in Birmingham with a typically dramatic 3-6 7-5 6-3 win over Jennifer Brady. Strycova looked down and out on a couple of occasions, twice down a break in the second set and down a break early in the decider, Strycova’s trademark determination eventually got the better of the American to secure a showdown with the top seed.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 3 wins apiece. Strycova has proven to be a very difficult opponent for Muguruza in recent times having won 3 of their last 4 matches. Their most recent completed match and only previous match on grass was in Eastbourne last year, an easy 6-1 6-0 victory for Strycova.

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Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇸🇰 Magdalena Rybarikova vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Magdalena Rybarikova and Kristina Mladenovic will renew hostilities when they meet at the second round stage in Birmingham on Wednesday. Rybarikova has won both of the previous meetings between the pair and has a brilliant recent record on grass, can Mladenovic raise her level to pull off an upset?

Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in action at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Magdalena Rybarikova claimed the first big upset victory of the tournament as she defeated the 3rd seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-3 in their opening round encounter. It was a near-flawless performance from Rybarikova who bamboozled Pliskova with her touch and court craft. The Slovakian made it all the way to the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, it is important that Rybarikova finds some kind of form over the next few weeks before heading to SW19 to defend a huge chunk of points.

Kristina Mladenovic secured her spot in the second round in Birmingham with a gutsy first round victory, a 1-6 6-2 6-4 victory over Katerina Siniakova. After a dreadful opening set it looked like Mladenovic was on track for yet another commanding loss but she recovered admirably to beat a fading Siniakova. Mladenovic’s efficiency at the net was a the standout feature of her performance.

Rybarikova has a 2-0 H2H record over Mladenovic. Both of their previous matches went deep into a third set, their only recent match was in Zhuhai last year, Rybarikova claimed a 7-5 1-6 7-6 victory.

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Elina Svitolina vs. Donna Vekic, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R1 Preview
🇺🇦 (2) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇭🇷 Donna Vekic

Elina Svitolina begins her 2018 grass court campaign in Birmingham with an opening round showdown against Donna Vekic. Svitolina suffered yet another setback at Roland Garros a few weeks ago, a shock third round exit at the hands of Mihaela Buzarnescu. Grass is considered Svitolina’s worst surface, so it will be interesting to see how she performs over the next month and whether she can contend for the biggest titles.

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine practices at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Svitolina continues to impress at the premier level before collapsing at Grand Slam events, a very disappointing trend for the Ukrainian. But, it is good news for her chances in Birmingham, these are the types of events Svitolina has been so efficient at over the last few years. However, grass is easily Svitolina’s least successful surface, and she has never made it passed the second round in Birmingham.

Donna Vekic started her grass court campaign in Nottingham last week. Vekic failed to defend her title in Nottingham but she still had a good week as she reached the semi-finals before succumbing to Johanna Konta in straight sets. Vekic enjoys playing on grass, her game is very much suited to the quick surface.

Svitolina holds a perfect 3-0 record over Vekic. The most recent match between the pair was on clay in Marrakesh in 2015, a comfortable 6-2 6-2 for Svitolina. This will be their first match on a grass court, a surface that seemingly gives Vekic some kind of a chance at an upset.

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