Petra Kvitova vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, Prague Final Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, Final Preview
?? (2) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? Mihaela Buzarnescu

Petra Kvitova will be aiming for her third title in 2018 when she comes up against Mihaela Buzarnescu in Saturday’s Prague Open final. Kvitova will enter this match as a strong favourite, the home crowd favourite is far more experienced on the big stage, at 30 years of age Buzarnescu will be looking to win a maiden WTA title. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, can the Romanian cause a big upset?

Petra Kvitova has been extremely impressive in Prague, storming into the final without dropping a set. Kvitova has not dropped more than 6 games in a single match throughout her 4 victories on route to the final: victories over Tereza Smitkova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Katerina Siniakova and Shuai Zhang. Kvitova’s toughest test came at the semi-final stage where she beat Zhang 7-6 6-0, the opening set was extremely tight but it was Kvitova who was tougher deep in the opening set tiebreak.

Heading into 2018 Buzarnescu had never reached the final of a WTA tour level event. The Romanian is now into her second career final having succumbed to Elise Mertens in the Hobart final. Buzarnescu advanced to the semi-final stage in Prague thanks to straight set wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia, Antonia Lottner and Kristyna Pliskova. Buzarnescu secured her spot in Saturday’s final with a 4-6 6-3 7-5 win over Camila Giorgi, a gutsy win for Buzarnescu who won the last 4 games of the match as Giorgi served for the match at 5-3.

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Petra Kvitova vs. Shuai Zhang, Prague SF Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, SF Preview
?? (2) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? (6) Shuai Zhang

Petra Kvitova and Shuai Zhang will compete in Friday’s first semi-final in Prague, a match-up between two good friends. Kvitova will enter this match as a strong favourite, the Czech star has certainly been the most impressive player on route to the final 4 and is by far the highest credentialed semi-finalist. However, Zhang has beaten Kvitova a couple of times and won their only previous match on a clay court.

Petra Kvitova has been in fearsome form this week in front of her adoring fans in Prague. Kvitova has stormed into the semi-finals without dropping a set, claiming wins over Tereza Smitkova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Katerina Siniakova, all fellow Czech’s. Kvitova is now a strong favourite to win her third title of the year, if she can maintain the level that she has displayed over her first 3 matches then she will be very tough to stop.

Shuai Zhang has also moved into the semi-finals in Prague without dropping a set. Zhang’s form has been far more surprising than Kvitova’s given Zhang arrived in Prague in poor form and with little confidence on clay. Zhang was easily beaten by Rus in straight sets in Istanbul last week. A great turnaround for Zhang who now has nothing to lose at this stage of the tournament. Zhang has beaten Stefanie Voegele, Elena-Gabriela Ruse and Jasmine Paolini on route to the semi-finals.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. Interestingly it is Zhang who has won 2 of their last 3 matches, including a 6-2 6-1 demolition in New Haven last year and a 7-6 5-7 6-3 win in Rome in 2014 in what was their only previous match on clay.

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Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Camila Giorgi, Prague SF Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, SF Preview
?? (7) Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. ?? Camila Giorgi

Friday’s second semi-final from the Prague Open features an unexpected match-up between the 7th seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu and Camila Giorgi. Buzarnescu and Giorgi have had similar starts to the year, both had a great run very early in the year but both have struggled to win matches since then. This is a big opportunity for these two, both have little experience at this stage of events, Buzarnescu is yet to win a WTA title whilst Giorgi has a single title to her name.

Buzarnescu is having a great week in Prague, reaching her second semi-final of the year without dropping a set. The Romanian has claimed wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia, Antonia Lottner and Kristyna Pliskova on route to the final 4. Buzarnescu’s strong serving has been the theme of the week, the 30-year-old’s serve has been broken on just 3 occasions throughout her first 3 matches. Buzarnescu has been very clutch under pressure in all of her matches this week.

Camila Giorgi has come to play in Prague. One never really knows what to expect from Giorgi but when she is hot, she is hot, and she is hot this week. Giorgi started the event with a topsy-turvy 3 set win over Barbora Strycova before claiming a pair of straight set wins against Tamara Korpatsch and Sam Stosur to secure her spot in a second semi-final in 2018.

This will be the first career meeting between Buzarnescu and Giorgi. It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out between two contrasting styles. The ultra-aggressive game of Giorgi against the awkward, versatile game of Buzarnescu.

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Samantha Stosur vs. Camila Giorgi, Prague QF Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, QF Preview
?? Samantha Stosur vs. ?? Camila Giorgi

The pick of the quarter-final clashes on Thursday from the Prague open sees Samantha Stosur take on Camila Giorgi in what should be an exciting encounter between two powerful opponents. Stosur and Giorgi have both looked good this week, both enter this quarter-final clash with confidence after straight set victories in the second round. Giorgi is looking particularly dangerous but can the experienced Aussie tame the ultra-aggressive Italian?

Sam Stosur had a bizarre start to the tournament in Prague. Stosur looked set for a straight set win over compatriot Daria Gavrilova before Gavrilova fought back and pushed the match to a decider. Gavrilova ultimately retired injured before the third set even started. Stosur’s second round win was a more conventional victory, a solid 6-4 6-4 win over Denisa Allertova to reach her first quarter-final of 2018. Stosur’s strong serving was the highlight of her victory over Allertova, winning over 80% of service points behind her first and second serve.

Camila Giorgi seems to be catching fire after a slow couple of months. Giorgi is now into back-to-back quarter-finals having reached the Lugano quarter-finals a few weeks ago. Giorgi started the week with a topsy-turvy 6-0 2-6 6-2 win over Barbora Strycova, Giorgi’s best tennis in that match was almost unplayable, certainly for Strycova it was. Giorgi secured her spot in a third quarter-final of 2018 with a 6-4 6-2 win over Tamara Korpatsch, a good win for Giorgi considering she trailed early in each set.

The only previous match between the pair ended in a 7-6 6-7 6-1 win for Stosur at the US Open in 2016.

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Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Prague QF Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, QF Preview
?? (7) Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova

The 7th seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu takes on local favourite Kristyna Pliskova at the quarter-final stage of the Prague Open on Thursday. This will be the first career meeting between Buzarnescu and Pliskova, a pair of lefties with contrasting games. This is a huge opportunity for both ladies to reach a rare semi-final at the WTA tour level, who will step up and make the most of this chance?

Mihaela Buzarnescu’s form has not been great of late. The Romanian’s run to the quarter-finals this week in Prague is the first time she has won back-to-back matches since Doha almost 3 months ago and only the third time in 2018 that she has managed to win more than 1 match at a single tournament. Buzarnescu’s wins this week have followed a similar path, a comfortable opening set followed by a challenging second set, a 6-1 7-5 win over Beatriz Haddad Maia and a 6-0 7-6 win over Antonia Lottner. Lottner did serve for the second set at 5-4 and was ahead 40-15 so it was a great effort by the Romanian to close out her second round match in straight sets.

Clay is not a surface that one would expect Kristyna Pliskova to thrive on, however Pliskova is having a good week on the clay in Prague for a second year in a row. Pliskova came agonizingly close to winning the title in Prague last year where she was overrun by Mona Barthel in the final, Pliskova has now put herself in a position to contend for the title once again. Pliskova has beaten a pair of solid opponents to reach her second quarter-final of the year, a 7-6 6-3 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich and a 6-2 7-6 win over Qiang Wang.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in what will be the first career meeting between the pair.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Prague R1 Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, R1 Preview
?? (1) Karolina Pliskova vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova

The Pliskova twins will go head-to-head for the first time since 2013 when they meet at the opening round stage in Prague. It is Karolina who enters this clash on a high fresh off winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Whilst the locals will be looking forward to this clash, the Pliskova’s certainly are not, this will be an awkward encounter as both have indicated that they do not like this match-up. Both have had previous success in Prague, Karolina won the event in 2015 whilst Kristyna was the runner-up in 2017.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during the final of the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Karolina Pliskova made the ideal start to her 2018 clay court season by claiming her 10th title as she won in Stuttgart, her biggest title on a clay court. The highlight of Pliskova’s week in Stuttgart was her strong serving, Pliskova served 52 aces which was the most aces anyone has served in 1 tournmant in 2018. It was a tough week for Pliskova, she was forced to beat 4 top 30 opponents on route to the title, a 7-6 6-4 win over CoCo Vandeweghe in the final secured her first title of the year.

Kristyna Pliskova also made a good start to her 2018 clay court season a few weeks ago where she claimed a couple of big wins on route to the quarter-final stage in Charleston. Kristyna claimed 3 upset wins in a row in Charleston, beating Katerina Siniakova, Petra Kvitova and Elena Vesnina to reach the quarter-finals before succumbing to Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets. More recently Kristyna suffered a straight set loss at the hands of Camila Giorgi in Lugano.

It is Karolina who holds a slight 5-4 H2H record over Kristyna. The pair have only met on one occasion at the WTA level, a 7-6 3-6 6-3 win for Kristyna on grass in Eastbourne way back in 2013. Clearly it is Karolina who has been the far better player over the last few years but in a match-up with little margin, an upset is still a possibility.

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