Doha R2: (8) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (Q) Donna Vekic
Donna Vekic is starting to find some much needed form in Doha but faces a tough task in the second round at the Qatar Total Open when she comes up against the eighth seeded Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard has generally made a positive start to the season and will be extra motivated for a good week in Doha after a disappointing first round loss in Dubai last week.
Carla had a great Australian summer, reaching the semi-finals in Brisbane and the quarter-final at the Australian Open but made a slow start to the Middle Eastern swing last week in Dubai. Carla suffered a three set loss to Caroline Garcia in her opening round clash. It was a bad loss for Carla given she was in a winning position when she led by a set and 4-3 and had game points for 5-3. Carla’s level deteriorated as the match wore on and as the pressure intensified. The Spaniard would have been disappointed with that loss and will be eager for a better week.
Donna Vekic recorded two tough victories to reach the main draw in Doha, claiming tight three set wins over Kai-Lin Zhang and Andrea Hlavackova. The Croatian made the most of a very favourable draw to claim her first main draw victory at the premier level for the first time since Madrid last year. Vekic stormed past local wild card Fatima Al-Nabhani 6-0 6-0 with total ease. Life will get much tougher for Vekic in the second round when she takes on Suarez Navarro.
This will be the first career meeting between Carla and Donna. The Croatian has the advantage of having already played three matches this week in Doha so she will be well acclimatised to the conditions. However, I don’t think Donna will enjoy much success in this match-up. Vekic hasn’t had any success against players of Carla’s calibre in recent times. Carla’s defensive skills are likely to really frustrate an often impatient Vekic and draw a large number of errors from the Croatian’s racquet. I suspect Carla will win this pretty comfortably.