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.