🇬🇧 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?
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.