?? Western & Southern Open – R1 Preview
?? (wc) Sloane Stephens vs. ?? Caroline Garcia
An opening round battle between two former top 5 players at the Western & Southern Open sees Sloane Stephens come up against Caroline Garcia. Stephens and Garcia have followed similar downward spirals over the last few years, but both are undoubtedly top players on their day, who will prevail here?
Stephens made a typically disappointing start on her resumption to the tour a few weeks ago with a straight set opening round loss to Leylah Fernandez in Lexington. Perhaps being back at Flushing Meadows will inspire Stephens, the destination of her greatest result when she won the US Open back in 2017, a result that seems like a lifetime ago.
Garcia will be playing her first match back since the tour restart, her first official match in over 5 months. The Frenchwoman has spent the last few months training hard at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy, it will be interesting to see what type of level Garcia can produce here.
Garcia holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Stephens. The Frenchwoman won the most recent match between the pair, a 6/1 7/6 victory in Rome in 2018.
I’m going to side with Garcia here. Stephens was awful in her opening round match in Lexington and still seems to be in a bad place on court. Expect a rejuvenated Garcia to be too strong for the sluggish American. If Garcia remains patient from the baseline, she should be able to pick her moments to move forward and punish Stephens who has a tendency to drop back behind the baseline when lacking confidence, which is the case at the moment. An attacking Garcia is the more dangerous prospect.