Simona Halep vs. Elise Mertens, Prague Final Preview

??⬛ Prague Open – Final Preview + Prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (3) Elise Mertens

A blockbuster final at the 2020 Prague Open sees the top seeded Simona Halep come up against the third seeded Elise Mertens. Halep has won 3 of the 4 previous meetings between the pair and enters this clash as a strong favourite.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during her semi-final match at the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

It has been a difficult week for Halep in her return to competitive action. The world number 2 required 3 tough sets to get the better of Polona Hercog and Barbora Krejcikova in her first few matches of the event. Halep cruised past Magdalena Frech 6-2 6-0 in the quarterfinals before booking her spot in the final with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.

Mertens has also come through a couple of tough matches to reach the final in Prague. The Belgian required 3 sets to get the better of Jasmine Paolini and Eugenie Bouchard, in between those wins she defeated Camila Giorgi in straight sets. Mertens secured her spot in the championship match with a 7-5 7-6 win over Kristyna Pliskova. A good week for Mertens given her disappointing opening round exit last week in Palermo.

Elise Mertens of Belgium in action during her semi-final match at the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

Halep holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Mertens. Importantly Halep has won both of the previous matches between the pair on a clay court, very comfortably, both in 2018, a 6-0 6-3 win in Madrid followed by a 6-2 6-1 win at Roland Garros. Halep also won the most recent meeting between the pair at the Australian Open earlier this year, a 6-4 6-4 victory.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Halep’s strong record against Mertens in their previous clay court meetings can’t be ignored. Halep and Mertens have similar strengths but Halep simply does most things a little better, which is especially true on a clay court. In a match-up where both players move extremely well and are very consistent from the back of the court, it is Halep who has heavier shots and more margin to her game, which will see her win the majority of the extended rallies, of which there will be many.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elise Mertens in 2 sets

Elise Mertens vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Prague SF Preview

??⬛ Prague Open – SF Preview + Prediction
?? (3) Elise Mertens vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova

The first spot in the 2020 Prague Open final will be up for grabs when the third seeded Elise Mertens comes up against Kristyna Pliskova. Mertens won the first couple of matches between the pair in straight sets and is favourite to continue that trend in Prague.

Elise Mertens of Belgium in action during the quarter-finals of the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

Elise Mertens has responded well to her opening round exit in Palermo last week to reach the final 4 in Prague. The Belgian started the week with a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-3 win over Jasmine Paolini. Mertens produced her best performance of the week in the second round with a 6-4 6-2 win over Camila Giorgi. Mertens secured her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-4 1-6 6-4 victory over an in-form Eugenie Bouchard.

It has been a strange week for Kristyna Pliskova, she has been extremely lucky to reach the final 4. Pliskova started the week with a 6-2 7-5 win over Linda Fruhvirtova before defeating the second seeded Petra Martic 6-1 7-5. Martic was injured in that match and offered very little resistance, Pliskova again benefited from an injured opponent in the next round as Ana Bogdan retired in the opening set whilst leading by a double break.

Mertens holds a perfect 2-0 record over Pliskova. Both victories came on a hard court in 2019, a 6-2 7-6 win in Doha followed by a 6-2 6-2 win at the US Open.

Expect Mertens to be far too solid for Pliskova here. Mertens has fantastic movement and a very solid backhand, making her a nightmare match-up for Pliskova on a clay court. Pliskova’s lefty patterns will be covered well by the Mertens backhand and movement. Pliskova will find it very hard to hit through Mertens, whilst Mertens will be able to spread the court and expose the poor movement of Pliskova.

Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Kristyna Pliskova in 2 sets

Irina-Camelia Begu vs. Leonie Küng, Prague R2 Preview

??⬛ Prague Open – R2 Preview + Prediction
?? Irina-Camelia Begu vs. ?? (Q) Leonie Küng

Irina-Camelia Begu and Leonie Küng will do battle for a spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the Prague Open.

Begu arrived in Prague fresh from an opening round exit in Palermo last week, Begu was defeated by Laura Siegemund in straight sets. The Romanian responded well with a surprisingly comfortable 6/2 6/2 win over the 9th seeded Anastasija Sevastova in her opening match in Prague. Begu will hope to build on that victory when she faces a far less experienced opponent in the second round.

Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in action during the first round at the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

Küng also arrived in Prague on the back of an opening round loss in Palermo, the 19-year-old was defeated by Tereza Martincova in straight sets in the first round of qualifying. Küng is having a much better week in Prague where she successfully came through the qualifying draw with wins over Ludmilla Samsonova, Laura Ioana Paar and Mayar Sherif, the final two wins being from a set down. Küng booked her spot in the second round with a 6/4 6/3 win over Aliona Boslova.

This will be the first career meeting between Begu and Küng.

I’m going to give Begu the benefit of the doubt in this match-up. Küng has already played 4 matches this week and it feels like this is where her run should come to an end. Begu was impressive against Sevastova in the opening round, I expect her to draw on that win and use her experience to outlast her opponent here.

Prediction: Irina-Camelia Begu to defeat Leonie Küng in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Barbora Krejcikova, Prague R2 Preview

??⬛ Prague Open – R2 Preview + Prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Barbora Krejcikova

Simona Halep will be back in action on Thursday at the Prague Open when she takes on local wild card Barbora Krejcikova in the second round. The Romanian survived a big scare in the opening round and will be aiming for a more straightforward victory on this occasion.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during the first round at the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

Halep was pushed to her limits by Polona Hercog in the opening round in Prague. Halep required 7 match points to eventually claim a hard-fought 6/1 1/6 7/6 win. Meanwhile, Krejcikova booked her spot in the second round in Prague with a solid 6/4 6/3 win over Patricia Maria Tig.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair.

I expect Halep to produce a more assertive performance than in her first-round match. I think Halep will benefit from her tough opening round match and improve throughout the week. Krejcikova is a doubles specialist at heart, she is unlikely to have the consistency or stamina to stick with Halep on a clay court. A comfortable win for Halep is likely.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Barbora Krejcikova in 2 sets

Eugenie Bouchard vs. Veronika Kudermetova, Prague R1 Preview

??⬛ Prague Open – R1 Preview + Prediction
? (wc) Eugenie Bouchard vs. ?? (8) Veronika Kudermetova

An interesting opening round clash on day 1 of the 2020 Prague Open sees the 8th seeded Veronika Kudermetova come up against Canadian wild card Eugenie Bouchard. This will be the first match for back for both since the tour restart.

On paper this should be a very one-sided contest, Kudermetova is ranked almost 300 places above Bouchard, the Russian currently sits at world number 40 whilst Bouchard’s spiralling ranking is all the way down to 332. However, I suspect Bouchard has a decent chance here with a few factors working in the Canadian’s favour.

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada during practice at the 2020 Prague Open WTA International tennis tournament

Bouchard has been busy during the official tour shutdown. Bouchard was involved in a couple of exhibition events in the USA, whilst the results weren’t quite there for Bouchard, the signs were decent. Bouchard competed well with some good players and is now working with Rennae Stubbs, a partnership that could rejuvenate the career of the former Wimbledon finalist.

Conversely, Veronika Kudermetova hasn’t played a single exhibition match during the tour shutdown.

It was Bouchard who emerged victorious in the only previous meeting between the pair, a 7/5 6/0 victory on clay in Gstaad in 2018.

I’m going for the upset here. This is an important match for Bouchard, it would be a big disappointment for her to get a wild card, travel all the way to Prague and lose in the first round. Bouchard has been practising in Prague for a few days and unlike Kudermetova, Bouchard is battled hardened heading into this match given all the exhibition events she has played over the last few months. Kudermetova has the type of attacking game that might malfunction coming off limited preparation.

Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Veronika Kudermetova in 3 sets

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.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

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.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

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.

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here