Julia Goerges vs. Ashleigh Barty, Birmingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R2 Preview
🇩🇪 (5) Julia Goerges vs. 🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty

The in-form Ash Barty continues her Birmingham campaign on Thursday with a potentially tricky second round clash against the 5th seeded Julia Goerges. This will be the first career meeting between Barty and Goerges, an interesting match-up, the power of the German up against the all-court game of the Aussie. Can Barty move one step closer to back-to-back titles?

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

Julia Goerges claimed her first victory on British grass in a while as she cruised to a 6-4 6-4 opening round win over Maria Sakkari. The German was one of the hottest players on tour earlier in the year but her level and consistency have really dropped off in the last few months. Grass has never been a great surface for Goerges so it is hard to see her returning to her best over the next few weeks.

Conversely, Ash Barty loves grass and is already on a 6-match winning streak on the surface having arrived in Birmingham fresh off winning her second career title in Nottingham last week. Barty was straight back to business in her opening round clash at the Nature Valley Classic, a solid 6-4 6-3 win over Oceane Dodin. Barty saved both of the break points she faced and required just the one break in each set to get the job done.

Surprisingly this will be the first ever meeting between the two, who will come out on top?

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Strasbourg Final Preview

🇫🇷 Internationaux de Strasbourg, 🏆 Final Preview
🇷🇺 (3) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. 🇸🇰 (5) Dominika Cibulkova

A fascinating final is set for Saturday in Strasbourg as the third seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova takes on the fifth seeded Dominika Cibulkova. Pavlyuchenkova and Cibulkova entered Strasbourg as two of the most disappointing performers in 2018, both have really struggled to find their best tennis this year. It would be a huge confidence boost for either player to win this title, who will step up and take this chance?

Pavlyuchenkova has cruised through to the final in Strasbourg without dropping a set. The Russian started the event with a 6-0 6-0 crushing of Tatjana Maria before claiming a tight 6-4 6-4 win over Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Pavlyuchenkova produced a solid performance to beat Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-2 in the quarter-finals before taking the opening set over Ashleigh Barty 6-4 at which point the Aussie retired injured, handing Pavlyuchenkova a place in her first final of 2018.

Cibulkova cruised through her first three matches in Strasbourg, beating Chloe Paquet, Reka-Luca Jani and defending champion Samantha Stosur in straight sets. Cibulkova’s big test came at the semi-final stage where she claimed a gutsy 2-6 7-6 6-1 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu. It was a typical Cibulkova comeback, coming from a set and a break down to reach her second final of 2018.

These two are familiar foes, it is Cibulkova who holds a 7-3 record over Pavlyuchenkova. Cibulkova has won 5 of the last 6 matches between the pair and has won the only two matches between the pair on clay.

Signs seemingly point to a Cibulkova win but Pavlyuchenkova will be no pushover.

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Dominika Cibulkova vs. Samantha Stosur, Strasbourg QF Preivew

Internationaux de Strasbourg, QF Preview
🇸🇰 (5) Dominika Cibulkova vs. 🇦🇺 Samantha Stosur

The fourth and final quarter-final in Strasbourg promises to be the best of the lot as defending champion Sam Stosur comes up against the 5th seeded Dominika Cibulkova. Cibulkova and Stosur are the two biggest names left in the draw, the two most accomplished players heading into the quarter-final stage.

Cibulkova arrived in Strasbourg in need of wins after really struggling thus far during the clay court swing. It has been a good start to the tournament for Cibulkova who has claimed straight set wins over Chloe Paquet and Reka-Luca Jani. Clearly Cibulkova’s first big test will come against Stosur.

Stosur is also yet to drop a set this week and has come up against good opposition. Stosur started the week with a 6-3 6-2 win over Sofia Kenin before beating Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-4 in what was a rematch of last year’s final in Strasbourg.

Interestingly it is Stosur who holds a 5-1 head-to-head record over Cibulkova heading into this match. Stosur won their first 3 matches in straight sets including all 3 of their previous matches on clay. Most recently it was Cibulkova who won 7-5 6-4 in Doha last year.

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Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Su-Wei Hsieh, Strasbourg QF Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, QF Preview
🇷🇴 (4) Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. 🇹🇼 (8) Su-Wei Hsieh

The only quarter-final in Strasbourg on Thursday that features two seeded players will see the 4th seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu take on the 8th seeded Su-Wei Hsieh. Buzarnescu and Hsieh have followed similar paths in recent times, both have reached new heights in recent times despite being in their thirties.

Buzarnescu and Hsieh have had similar passages to the quarter-final stage in Strasbourg. Both came through tough opening round matches from a set down, Buzarnescu claimed a 4-6 7-6 6-3 win over Magda Linette whilst Hsieh came from a set and break down to beat Kaia Kanepi 2-6 7-5 6-2.

Both had more comfortable wins on Wednesday. Buzarnescu survived a late scare to beat Elena Rybakina 6-3 7-6 whilst Hsieh claimed a surprisingly comfortable 6-2 6-3 win over Lucie Safarova.

This is great opportunity for both to reach a rare semi-final at this level, who will take it?

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Zarina Diyas, Strasbourg QF Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, QF Preview
🇷🇺 (3) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. 🇰🇿 Zarina Diyas

An interesting quarter-final clash in Strasbourg on Thursday sees Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Zarina Diyas go head-to-head for the very first time. This should be a fairly even match-up between two very solid players, Pavlyuchenkova is more comfortable on clay but Diyas has generally produced a better level of tennis in 2018.

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After a really poor start to the year Pavlyuchenkova’s form has steadied of late as she is now into a second quarter-final during the clay court swing. Pavlyuchenkova started the week with a 6-0 6-0 demolition of Tatjana Maria, her first career victory without dropping a single game. The Russian secured her spot in the final 8 with a solid 6-4 6-4 win over Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

Zarina Diyas is through to her first quarter-final since Shenzhen in week 1 of the season. Diyas started her Strasbourg campaign with an comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Katarzyna Piter before eliminating the 6th seeded Timea Babos 7-6 4-6 6-2.

Pavlyuchenkova and Diyas will both be playing for a place in their first semi-final of 2018, who will make their way through to the final 4 in Strasbourg?

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Qiang Wang, Strasbourg QF Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, QF Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇨🇳 Qiang Wang

Thursday’s first quarter-final in Strasbourg sees the top seeded Ash Barty take on China’s Qiang Wang. This will be the first career meeting between Barty and Wang, on paper it looks like a bit of a mismatch, The Aussie will head into this match as a strong favourite and rightfully so.

Barty has been fairly untroubled in her opening few matches in Strasbourg, the top seed started the week with a 6-4 6-4 win over Luksika Kumkhum before beating Pauline Parmentier 6-1 6-4 to match her quarter-final showing at this event last year. This week now looms as a great opportunity for Barty to add to her title collection.

Wang’s journey to the quarter-final stage has been less straightforward. Wang came from a set down in each of her victories on route to the final 8, a 3-6 6-1 6-4 win over Camila Rosatello and a 4-6 7-5 6-2 win over the 7th seeded Danielle Collins. Wang’s win over Collins was one of her better wins of the year thus far, a very solid performance as the level of Collins deteriorated.

Can Wang move past another seeded opponent or will Barty be too strong?

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Daria Gavrilova vs. Samantha Stosur, Strasbourg R2 Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (2) Daria Gavrilova vs. 🇦🇺 Samantha Stosur

An all-Aussie second round clash in Strasbourg sees the second seeded Daria Gavrilova take on Sam Stosur in what is a rematch of last year’s final in Strasbourg. In 2017 it was Stosur that got the better of Gavrilova in 3 tight sets to win the title, Gavrilova will be looking for revenge here and the recent form of the pair suggests that is likely.

Gavrilova and Stosur both started their 2018 Strasbourg campaigns with straight set wins, however, in contrasting fashion. Gavrilova was forced to work extremely hard for a 7-6 7-6 win over Jennifer Brady whilst Stosur started her title defense with a fairly comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over Sofia Kenin.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. These two know each other well, the Fed Cup teammates often train together and will be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The most recent match between the pair took place not too long ago in Prague where the match was level at 1 set all before Gavrilova was forced to retire due to injury.

Stosur has won both of their previous match of clay after also winning in the Strasbourg final last year, will it be third time lucky for Gavrilova?

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Su-Wei Hsieh vs. Lucie Safarova, Strasbourg R2 Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, R2 Preview
🇹🇼 (8) Su-Wei Hsieh vs. 🇨🇿 (wc) Lucie Safarova

Su-Wei Hsieh and Lucie Safarova will renew hostilities when they meet at the second round stage in Strasbourg on Wednesday. It is Safarova who has won all four of the previous matches between the pair but it is Hsieh who is having the better season. Hsieh is playing some of her best tennis at the moment whilst Safarova is playing in her first tournament in about 3 months. This looks like Hsieh’s best chance to beat Safarova.

The 8th seeded Hsieh started her Strasbourg campaign with a gutsy 2-6 7-5 6-2 win over Kaia Kanepi. Hsieh looked down and out when she trailed by a set and a break midway through the second set but Kanepi had issues with her back and her level quickly deteriorated, Hsieh was good enough to take advantage.

In her first match since Dubai earlier this year, Safarova claimed a 6-2 4-6 6-3 win over Marina Melinkova. This is only the 5th tournament of the year for Safarova as she suffered yet another stint on the side-lines due to a nasty viral illness. It is important for Safarova to gain some momentum this week in Strasbourg before heading to Roland Garros where she is a former finalist.

Safarova has a perfect 4-0 H2H record over Hsieh, their most recent match was their closest. A 1-6 6-3 7-6 win for Safarova on the grass of Nottingham last year. Hsieh will fancy her chances here against a rusty Safarova, can she pull off the upset?

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Strasbourg R2 Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, R2 Preview
🇷🇺 (3) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. 🇷🇺 Natalia Vikhlyantseva

An all-Russian battle sees the third seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova take on Natalia Vikhlyantseva for a spot in the quarter-finals at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Pavlyuchenkova has been one of 2018’s biggest disappointments and will desperately want to find some form this week before heading to Paris. The early signs were good for Pavlyuchenkova as she thrashed Tatjana Maria 6-0 6-0 in the opening round. Vikhlyantseva looms as a much tougher test on Wednesday, Vikhlyantseva started her Strasbourg campaign with a hard-fought 6-3 7-6 win over Tereza Mrdeza and has been in decent form of late.

The only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-2 6-2 win for Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open last year. Expect Vikhlyantseva to be much more competitive on this occasion but can she cause an upset?

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Pauline Parmentier, Strasbourg R2 Preview

Internationaux de Strasbourg, R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇫🇷 Pauline Parmentier

An interesting second round clash in Strasbourg sees the top seeded Ash Barty take on in-form Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier for a spot in the quarter-finals. Barty has shown decent form over the last few weeks but has struggled to find wins amidst some brutal draws in Madrid and Rome. Strasbourg is a good opportunity for Barty to get the wins on the board before heading to Roland Garros.

Barty and Parmentier both came through close straight set matches in the opening round in Strasbourg. Barty claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Luksika Kumkhum whilst Parmentier defeated Yafan Wang 6-4 7-6. Parmentier did well to end her match in straight sets after almost blowing several leads at the business end of the second set.

It should be noted that Parmentier is currently playing the best tennis she has played in a long time, the Frenchwoman is on a 6-match winning streak having won her first title in almost 10 years in Istanbul a few weeks ago. Parmentier will need to play her best if she is to get the better of Barty.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair.

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