Karolina Pliskova vs. Kiki Bertens, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇳🇱 Kiki Bertens

A Brutal opening round clash in Stuttgart sees the 5th seeded Karolina Pliskova take on one of the tour’s clay court specialists: Kiki Bertens. This will be an exciting battle between two of the biggest hitters on tour. There is however a great contrast in styles between these two, the flat hitting of Pliskova against the heavy strokes of Bertens, who will prevail?

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Karolina Pliskova has already had some time to get acclimatised to the conditions in Stuttgart after taking part in the Czech Republic’s successful semi-final Fed Cup tie with Germany at the weekend in Stuttgart. Pliskova claimed a hugely important victory over Angelique Kerber, a rare straight sets win over the German before succumbing to Julia Goerges in straight sets. Clay has never been Pliskova’s favourite surface but Karolina’s run to the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year will inspire the Czech number 1 heading into the 2018 clay court season.

Kiki Bertens may be just outside the top 20 in the rankings but on clay, according to the WTA’s power rankings she is number 3 on the dirt. Bertens showed just why she is considered number 3 on clay in her first clay court event of the year where she won the title in Charleston a few weeks ago. Bertens’ form in 2018 has generally not been good but on clay everything is different. Kiki’s heavy game is ideal for clay, one of very few players that play with such shape and power on the WTA tour, a true clay court specialist.

The only completed match between these two took place way back in 2013 on carpet in Paris, Bertens won 6-4 7-6.

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Sloane Stephens vs. CoCo Vandeweghe, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇺🇸 (7) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) CoCo Vandeweghe

Fed Cup teammates Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe will collide at the opening round stage of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Stephens and Vandeweghe were both a part of the USA’s successful semi-final victory over France at the weekend which saw the USA reach the Fed Cup final for the second year in a row. Sloane Stephens was the hero of the tie and is in great form, however, Vandeweghe holds a 3-1 H2H advantage over Sloane. Can an in-form Stephens defy a negative H2H record and claim victory in Stuttgart?

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Sloane Stephens is arguably the form player on tour right now. Stephens has won 8 matches in a row heading into Stuttgart. The reigning U.S Open champion played sublime tennis a few weeks ago to claim the second biggest title of her career as she won the Miami Open. At the weekend Stephens won both of her singles matches as the USA beat France 3-2 to reach the Fed Cup final. Sloane claimed a tight win over Pauline Parmentier before thrashing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-0 in what proved to be the crucial moment of the tie.

CoCo Vandeweghe’s form is far, far less impressive than that of Stephens heading into Stuttgart. Vandeweghe has been unable to find her best tennis in 2018 and the present clay court swing is usually Vandeweghe’s least successful time of the year. Indeed, Vandeweghe has won just 1 tour level match in 2018 and lost her match on the weekend in the USA’s victory over France, a three set loss to Kristina Mladenovic.

What is in Vandeweghe’s favour is her 3-1 H2H record over Stephens. The most recent match between the pair took place at the U.S Open in 2015, Vandeweghe won that match 6-4 6-3. The only previous match between the two on clay ended in a 6-3 6-4 win for Stephens in Strasbourg in 2015.

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Kristina Mladenovic vs. Anett Kontaveit, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇪🇪 Anett Kontaveit

Kristina Mladenovic returns to Stuttgart with a point to prove, the 2017 Porsche Tennis GP runner-up will come up against Anett Kontaveit in what looms as a dangerous opening round clash for the Frenchwoman. Mladenovic has shown glimpses of good tennis in 2018 but her recent results continue to be poor, perhaps a return to Stuttgart where she had a great run to the final last year can inspire the 24-year-old.

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Mladenovic arrives in Stuttgart with a sense of disappointment after France succumbed to the USA in the Fed Cup semi-finals on the weekend. Mladenovic won her opening match, beating CoCo Vandeweghe in 3 sets. However, Mladenovic produced a disappointing performance in the crucial third rubber, winning just 2 games in a comprehensive loss at the hands of Sloane Stephens. Can Mladenovic regroup in time to give a decent crack at defending her finalist points from last year in Stuttgart?

Anett Kontaveit arrives in Stuttgart having lost 6 of her last 7 matches. Kontaveit has really struggled since her run to the fourth round at the Australian Open earlier this year which ended in a brutal loss at the hands of Carla Suarez Navarro, a match Kontaveit had many chances to win. Kontaveit started her clay court season a few weeks ago in Lugano, the Estonian gave up another match winning position to succumb to Vera Lapko in 3 sets. At some stage Kontaveit will hit form again, will it be in Stuttgart?

The only previous meeting between the pair took place way back in Copenhagen in 2012, Kontaveit claimed a 6-1 6-7 6-3 victory.

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Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇨🇿 (8) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber will go H2H for the second time this week when they meet at the opening round stage of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The pair competed in the decisive 4th rubber of the Fed Cup semi-final tie between Germany and the Czech Republic in Stuttgart. Kvitova easily disposed of Kerber, claiming a straight set win to send the Czech Republic into yet another Fed Cup final. Can Kerber regroup and reverse the result of her disappointing loss at the weekend?

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Petra Kvitova has been in irresistible form at times in 2018, most notably in a stretch that saw her win back-to-back titles in St. Petersburg and Doha. Petra’s form has tailed off since then but her outstanding performances on the weekend to guide the Czech Republic past Germany suggest another winning streak could be on the horizon.

Angelique Kerber has generally been very consistent in 2018 having reached at least the quarter-final stage at all 6 tournaments she has competed at in 2018. The bad news for Kerber is that her last 6 defeats have been in straight sets, most of them were noncompetitive matches. Kerber lost both of her matches during the weekend’s Fed Cup semi-final tie with the Czech Republic, a very disappointing loss to Karolina Pliskova and then a belting at the hands of Petra Kvitova. It will be interesting to see how the former Stuttgart champion responds this week.

Kvitova now holds a 6-5 H2H advantage over Kerber after her straight set win over the German just a few days ago, a commanding 6-2 6-2 win. Kvitova has now won the last two matches between the pair as she also claimed an epic 6-7 7-5 6-4 win in Wuhan in 2016 in their most recent match on the WTA tour.

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Caroline Garcia vs. Maria Sharapova, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇫🇷 (6) Caroline Garcia vs. 🇷🇺 (wc) Maria Sharapova

The pick of the opening round matches in the Stuttgart sees the 6th seeded Caroline Garcia come up against 3-time former champion: Maria Sharapova. Garcia has not beaten Sharapova in her 4 previous attempts but this match looms as her greatest opportunity to finally secure a victory over the Russian. Sharapova has really struggled in 2018, persistent injury problems have meant that she has played very little tennis in 2018.

Caroline Garcia has not been able to replicate her stunning 2017 season ending form in 2018. However, the Frenchwoman is steadily building and will look to take her game to the next level over the coming months on clay, a surface that she is very dangerous on. Garcia started her clay season a few weeks ago in Charleston where she suffered a disappointing third round exit at the hands of Alize Cornet. Garcia has reasonable experience in Stuttgart having played the event on a few occasions, her most successful result was a run to the quarter-finals in 2015.

Maria Sharapova has only played in two tournaments since her third Australian Open defeat at the hands of Angelique Kerber 3 months ago. Sharapova was beaten by Niculescu in the opening round in Doha and smashed by Naomi Osako in the opening round in Indian Wells. Sharapova has not been able to achieve any continuity in her game since her return from a doping ban due to niggling injuries but she will head into this event with confidence given her previous success in Stuttgart where she won the title 3 years in a row between 2012 and 2014.

Sharapova heads into this match with a commanding 4-0 H2H record over Garcia. The pair have played on two occasions on clay, on both occasions Garcia pushed Sharapova to a third set. Their most recent match was in Madrid where Sharapova won 6-2 4-6 7-5.

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Barbora Strycova vs. Laura Siegemund, Stuttgart R1 Preview

Porsche Tennis GP, Stuttgart R1 Preview
🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova vs. 🇩🇪 Laura Siegemund

Laura Siegemund begins her title defense at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix with a tricky opening round clash against Barbora Strycova. The pressure is on Siegemund, the vast majority of her current ranking points come from her title run in Stuttgart 12 months ago. The German has played little tennis over the last 12 months having only returned to the tour about a month ago after a lengthy injury layoff. It will be interesting to see what type of level Siegemund can bring to this contest so early in her comeback.

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Barbora Strycova arrives in Stuttgart in poor form. Strycova has lost 4 consecutive matches after she made a good start to the year in Australia. Strycova suffered back-to-back opening round defeats in Indian Wells and Miami, a straight set loss to Petra Martic in Indian Wells and a straight set loss to Christina McHale in Miami. Strycova is a quality player and will hope to reverse her form slump in Stuttgart.

Siegemund has only played a handful of tournament this year after she recently made a comeback from an injury she sustained in Nuremburg last year. The results have not been good for Siegemund in her return, most recently the German was forced to retire injured as she was a set down to Kathinka von Deichmann in Lugano a few weeks ago. Stuttgart has been a magical event for Siegemund in the last few years, a runner-up showing in 2016 followed by the biggest title win of her career in 2017.

The only previous match between the pair took place in Beijing in 2016, a 5-7 7-5 7-5 win for Strycova in Beijing.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Angelique Kerber, Fed Cup SF Preview

Fed Cup: Semi-Final – Rubber 2 preview
🇨🇿 Czech Republic vs. 🇩🇪 Germany
🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber will look to continue her recent dominance over Karolina Pliskova when the pair meet in the crucial second rubber of the 2018 Fed Cup semi-finals tie between the Czech Republic and Germany. Pliskova and Kerber have been two of the most consistent players on tour in 2018. This is a match-up that usually brings out the best of both players, expect a high quality encounter between two in form players.

Karolina Pliskova has been solid but unspectacular in 2018. Whilst on paper Pliskova’s results look really good given she has reached 5 quarter-finals, her level of play has been just satisfactory for the most part. Like Kvitova, Pliskova has a great Fed Cup record having amassed a 13-3 win/loss record across single and doubles. If there is a setting where Pliskova can reverse her recent woes against Kerber, Perhaps it is here?

Angelique Kerber has been very impressive in 2018, the German has reached 6 quarter-finals, reaching at least the final 8 in all 6 tournaments she has competed in this year. Kerber will look to spearhead Germany to a rare win over the Czech Republic, Germany have won just 1 tie against the Czech Republic in 8 previous meetings. Kerber will need to be on her game to help Germany reverse that trend.

Kerber holds a commanding 7-3 head-to-head record over Pliskova. Kerber has won 5 of the last 6 matches between the pair including 3 wins in a row heading into this match. The most recent match between the pair took place earlier this year in Dubai where Kerber won 6-4 6-3.

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Petra Kvitova vs Julia Goerges, Fed Cup SF Preview

Fed Cup: Semi-Final – Rubber 1 preview
🇨🇿 Czech Republic vs. 🇩🇪 Germany
🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova vs. 🇩🇪 Julia Goerges

Julia Goerges will be tasked with starting Germany’s ominous task of confronting the Czech Republic in Stuttgart in the 2018 Fed Cup semi-finals. Goerges will come up against Petra Kvitova, the Czech has been one of the most successful players in the Fed Cup in recent times having won the event on 5 of the last 7 occasions, Kvitova has been the star on most occasions. Also in Kvitova’s favour is her strong record over Goerges having won the last 3 completed matches between the pair.

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Petra’s form has stalled over the last month after a hot run of form that saw her win back-to-back titles in St. Petersburg and Doha. Kvitova suffered reasonably early defeats in Indian Wells and Miami and her most recent result was a very disappointing opening round loss in Charleston to Kristyna Pliskova. Nevertheless, Kvitova will head into this tie with confidence, Kvitova has an impressive 28-10 win/loss Fed Cup record in singles and has been part of the successful Czech team that has won 5 of the last 7 Fed Cup titles.

The form of Julia Goerges also cooled off over the Indian Wells / Miami double. Some injury setbacks contributed to early round defeat in both Indian Wells and Miami for Goerges but she was able to regain some momentum more recently as she reached the final in Charleston where she was comprehensively beaten by Kiki Bertens. Goerges does not have a very impressive record in Fed Cup singles matches having amassed a 6/7 win/loss record over the years.

Kvitova holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Goerges. The pair have met on 2 occasions in 2018: a 7-5 4-6 6-2 win for Kvitova in St. Petersburg and a 6-4 2-1 win on Doha where Goerges retired injured. Kvitova went on to win the title on both occasions.

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Elena Vesnina vs Madison Brengle, Charleston R1 Preview

Volvo Car Open, Charleston R1 Preview
(14) Elena Vesnina vs. Madison Brengle

2016 Charleston runner-up Elena Vesnina will begin her 2018 Volvo Car Open campaign on Tuesday with an opening round clash against America’s Madison Brengle. It was in Charleston in 2016 that the Russian’s career resurgence took place as she came through the qualifying draw to reach the final, certainly one of the most important weeks of tennis in the career of Vesnina.

Vesnina has not had the greatest results in 2018, the Russian has amassed a modest 5-7 win-loss record in 2018 and has seen her ranking slip outside the top 40 for the first time in a while. It was in Indian Wells a few weeks ago where Vesnina lost a large chunk of points as she was eliminated in the third round in her title defense at the BNP Paribas Open. Most recently Vesnina suffered a disappointing opening round exit in Miami where she was beaten by Donna Vekic in 3 sets. Vesnina will be hoping she can ignite her season in Charleston, a special venue for the Russian.

Madison Brengle’s recent results have been typically unspectacular. Brengle suffered opening round defeats in Indian Wells and Miami last month and is still yet to win a main draw match at a WTA tour level event in 2018. Clay is typically Brengle’s least preferred surface so her fortunes are unlikely to change over the next few months.

Vesnina has won both of the previous matches between the pair, both in straight sets, both in 2016. A 6-2 6-3 win at Roland Garros and 7-6 6-4 on grass in Eastbourne.

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Camila Giorgi vs Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Charleston R1 Preview

Volvo Car Open, Charleston R1 Preview
Camila Giorgi vs. (Q) Soler Silvia-Espinosa

Camila Giorgi and Soler Silvia-Espinosa will go head-to-head in an opening round matchup in Charleston that will feature a huge contrast in styles. The ultra-aggressive, powerful game of Giorgi up against the typical clay court grinding game of Silvia-Espinosa. Interestingly, it was the Spaniard who claimed an upset win in their only previous match. Can Giorgi find some form and avoid another upset loss against he Spaniard?

Camila Giorgi started her season in such spectacular fashion in Sydney where she came through the qualifying draw and claimed some big victories over quality opposition such as Stephens, Kvitova and Radwanska. However, it has been downhill since then for Giorgi who has not won a main draw match since her first round win at the Australian Open over 2 months ago.

Silvia-Espinosa booked her spot in the main draw in Charleston thanks to wins over Melichar and Chang in the qualifying draw. The veteran Spaniard will be making her first main draw appearance at a WTA tour level event since Gstaad almost a year ago. The 30-year-old has played the majority of her tennis at the ITF level and is currently sitting just outside the top 200 in the rankings.

Silvia-Espinosa has reason to be confident heading into this match. The Spaniard won the only previous match between the pair, a 3-6 6-4 7-5 win on clay in Strasbourg in 2014. Giorgi is certainly the better player can lose to almost anyone on an off day.

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