Antwerp QF: (8) Karolina Pliskova vs (4) Lucie Safarova
Friday’s most intriguing quarter-final match-up from the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp sees two of the tours biggest improvers over the last 12 months, Karolina Pliskova and Lucie Safarova do battle. Both ladies recorded comprehensive second round victories and will come into this match full of confidence. An extremely tight contest is to be expected.
Karolina Pliskova continues to rise up the WTA pecking order. Pliskova arrived in Antwerp on a high after guiding the Czech Republic to a commanding 4-0 victory over Canada to send the defending champions into the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. Karolina won both of her singles matches in straight sets, making the most of her opportunity to represent her nation.
Karolina kick-started her Antwerp campaign in style on Thursday, comfortably defeating Annika Beck 6-3 6-3. The zippy Court 1 really suits Karolina’s power game, the Czech blasting Beck off the court with her ever reliable serve and superior groundstrokes. Karoline will face a much tougher test on Friday when she comes up against her compatriot, Lucie Safarova.
After receiving a bye through to the second round, Lucie recorded her first main draw victory of the season by thumping Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-1 in a little over an hour. An impressive victory given how well Mladenovic has been playing lately.
Lucie now has a very real opportunity to crack the top 10 for the very first time in her career if she can claim the title this week in Antwerp. A major incentive for Lucie to go on and win the title this week, however she will have her work cut out against Pliskova on Friday.
This will be the first career meeting between Lucie and Karolina at a tour level event. These two know each other very well and are currently in a battle for second spot in the Czech Fed Cup team. Lucie has been chosen to play alongside Petra over the past few years however with Karolina continuing to improve that could change in the near future.
This promises to be a very close battle, there is very little to split the two. Lucie should be the fresher of the two given she did not partake in the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup tie in Canada. However I’m still going to side with Karolina on this occasion.
Karolina showed earlier this year that she is not daunted by playing her more experienced compatriots, pushing Petra Kvitova all the way in a tight final at the Sydney International. This could go either way.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Lucie Safarova in 3 sets