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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Sara Errani vs Eugenie Bouchard, Charleston R1 Preview

Volvo Car Open, Charleston R1 Preview
(wc) Sara Errani vs. Eugenie Bouchard

An interesting opening round clash from the Volvo Car Open in Charleston sees two former top 5 players collide when Sara Errani takes on Eugenie Bouchard. Errani and Bouchard have both seen their rankings plummet over the last couple of seasons, different circumstances have contributed to the demise of the pair. This match-up features an interesting contrast in styles and personalities which will make for entertaining match on the green clay.

Sara Errani has had limited opportunity over the last few months because of her lowly ranking. Nevertheless, there were positives signs for Errani as she successfully qualified for the main draw in Dubai and at the Indian Wells 125K event, in Dubai Errani made in to the second round whilst In Indian Wells she went on to win the title which saw her re-enter the top 100. Moving into the clay court season, this is where Errani is at her most dangerous, the Italian has entered a heap of tournaments over the next few months, an important time for the Italian to push back up the rankings.

Eugenie Bouchard continues to disappoint. The 24-year-old had another poor set of result in Indian Wells and Miami. Bouchard suffered an opening round exit in Indian Wells at the hands of Sachia Vickery whilst in Miami she failed to even qualify for the main draw as she was beaten by Rebecca Peterson in the second round of the qualifying draw. It is becoming more and more likely that we have already seen the best of Bouchard.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. In 2013 on clay in Acapulco it was Errani claimed a 7-6 6-2 win, whilst most recently it was Bouchard who defeated Errani 6-3 6-3 on a hard court in Indian Wells.

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Aleksandra Krunic vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Charleston R1 Preview

Volvo Car Open, Charleston R1 Preview
Aleksandra Krunic vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands continues her comeback in Charleston this week, the American will begin her Volvo Car Open campaign against Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic on Monday. Krunic is in poor form having lost 6 of her last 7 matches whilst Mattek-Sands is playing in just her second tournaments since her last victory at Wimbledon last year. Both players will see this is a winnable match.

The last couple of months have been really disappointing for Krunic. The Serbian showed some promising signs at the start of 2018 on the back of a strong finish to the 2017 season. However, Krunic suffered back-to-back opening round defeats in Indian Wells and Miami, beaten by Begu and Sakkari. Unfortunately Krunic continues to be one of the biggest underachievers on tour.

Mattek-Sands made her much anticipated return to the WTA tour last week in Miami. The American’s Miami campaign did not last long as she was beaten by Alize Cornet in straight sets in the opening round. Mattek-Sands infamously suffered a horrible injury at Wimbledon last year but has recovered well, it will be interesting to see what type of level that Mattek-Sands can bring in her comeback.

This will bet the first career meeting between Krunic and Mattek-Sands. A match-up that will feature a good contrast in styles.

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Jelena Ostapenko vs Sloane Stephens, Miami Final Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 Final 🏆 Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (13) Sloane Stephens

A blockbuster final at the Miami Open sees a pair of reigning Grand Slam champions collide when Jelena Ostapenko comes up against Sloane Stephens. Ostapenko and Stephens have followed similar paths of late, both struggled early in the year but both have come good in Miami in a big way. Interestingly this will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Stephens, it will be fascinating to see how this match-up pans out especially given how well both generally play on the big stage.

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Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a losing record to her name in 2018. The Latvian has really ignited her season in Miami, rocketing her way through to the final without dropping a set. Ostapenko started the event with a couple of hard fought victories over Timea Babos and Beatriz Haddad Maia. The reigning Roland Garros champion made her big move with back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents as she beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-3 and Elina Svitolina 7-6 7-6. Ostapenko confirmed her spot in a fourth career final with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 win over Danielle Collins.

Ostapenko’s ability to raise her level under pressure has been the most impressive part of her run to the final. The 20-year-old has a perfect 5-0 record in tiebreaks in Miami, her brave tennis under pressure has been rewarded just as it was at Roland Garros last year.

Sloane Stephens has been equally impressive on route to the final. In the early rounds Stephens claimed a comfortable straight set win over Ajla Tomljanovic and a hard-fought 3 set over Monica Niculescu. Like Ostapenko, Stephens then claimed back-to-back straight set wins over top 10 opponents, beating Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-4 and Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-2. Stephens confirmed her spot in Saturday’s Miami Open final with a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win over Victoria Azarenka, Stephens came from a set and a break down, winning 12 of the last 13 games to storm into her first final since the U.S Open last year.

This promises to be an extremely entertaining final, Ostapenko and Stephens have proven to be big game players in the last 12 months, both have played their best tennis of the biggest stages. Who will step up and claim the 2018 Miami Open title?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs Danielle Collins, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 SF Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (Q) Danielle Collins

Thursday’s second semi-final from the Miami Open will feature an unexpected match-up as reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko comes up against local qualifier Danielle Collins. Ostapenko has powered through the draw, defeating 2 top 10 opponents in row to reach the final 4 in Miami. Collins has also been impressive, collecting 7 victories on route to the semi-finals having come through the qualifying draw. Ostapenko had never previously won a match in Miami before this event whilst Collins is the first qualifier to ever reach the semi-final stage in Miami, two unlikely semi-finalists.

It has been a frustrating start to the year for Ostapenko but everything is falling into place for the world number 5 in Miami. Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a modest 4-7 win/loss record to her name in 2018 and had not even beaten a top 50 opponent. In Miami the Latvian has beaten 3 top 50 opponents, including 2 top 10 opponents. Ostapenko received a bye through the opening round before beating Timea Babos 6-4 6-4 and Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 7-6. Ostapenko has really raised her level in her last couple of wins, a 7-6 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova and 7-6 7-6 over Elina Svitolina. The 20-year-old’s victories over Kvitova and Svitolina were both in difficult windy conditions, Ostapenko showed good mental fortitude to come out on top in all the critical moments in both of those matches.

The rise of Danielle Collins has been gobsmacking. Collins started the month having never won a main draw match of a WTA tour level event. Collins went on to reach the round of 16 in Indian Wells and is now into the semi-finals in Miami, meaning Collins is on the verge of reaching the top 50 in the rankings.

It has been a long journey to the semi-final stage for Collins. It started with straight set wins over Tereza Smitkova and Jana Cepelova in the qualifying draw and a comfortable opening round win over Irina-Camelia Begu. Collins battled through the middle stages of the event with 3 set wins over CoCo Vandeweghe, Donna Vekic and Monica Puig. Collins produced her most impressive performance of the event and indeed her entire career at the quarter-final stage as she easily disposed of Venus Williams, a 6-2 6-3 victory in her first match on the Stadium court. Collins could do nothing wrong, everything she tried worked on the night.

Thursday night’s semi-final will be the first tour level meeting between Ostapenko and Collins. Can Collins keep her dream run alive or will Ostapenko be too strong?

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Sloane Stephens vs Victoria Azarenka, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 SF Preview
🇺🇸 (13) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇧🇾 (wc) Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster semi-final clash at the Miami Open sees reigning U.S open champion Sloane Stephens take on 3-time former Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Stephens and Azarenka have both played scintillating tennis in their last couple of matches on route to the final 4 stage, both enter this match desperate to reach a big final for the first time in a while. This promises to be a thrilling match, who will prevail?

This has been an important event for both Stephens and Azarenka. Sloane Stephens is into her first semi-final since winning the U.S Open last year whilst Azarenka will be competing in her first semi-final since her title run in Miami back in 2016.

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Sloane Stephens has cruised past two quality opponents in a row to reach the semi-final stage in Miami. Stephens claimed straight set victories over Garbine Muguruza (6-3 6-4) and Angelique Kerber (6-1 6-2), back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents to ensure that Stephens herself will reach the top 10 for the first time when the latest rankings come out next week. Earlier in the event Stephens thrashed Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets and came from a set down to defeat Monica Niculescu. This is clearly the best tennis Sloane has played since her heroics at the U.S Open last year.

Amazingly Stephens has a 22-5 win-loss record in North American over the past year whilst in any other country she has a 0-9 win-loss record. Clearly the reigning U.S Open champion saves her best tennis for her home continent…

Victoria Azarenka is on an 11-match winning streak in Miami. Alongside the Australian Open it would be fair to say that the Miami Open is the most successful tournament for the 3-time former champion. Like Stephens, Azarenka has ripped through two quality opponents in a row to reach the semi-finals. A 6-2 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska and a 7-5 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova. Azarenka’s return of serve has been particularly damaging, the Belarussian has consistently been at the top of the return points won standings this tournament.

Azarenka holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Stephen. It was Azarenka who won the first three matches between the pair, all in straight sets at the Australian Open between 2013 and 2015. However, most recently it was Stephens who prevailed 6-1 7-5 just a few weeks ago in Indian Wells. There is certainly an underlying tension between these two, they do not particularly like each other and will both be desperate to win Thursday’s clash in Miami. Expect fireworks.

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