After a thrilling Australian Open, competitive action on the WTA tour returns in St Petersburg in a draw full of big names and promising young stars. And although the top seeds will not be taking to the court until the third round, there are no shortage of exciting matches to look forward to on day two.
Victoria Azarenka vs Margarita Gasparyan
Despite a day filled with intriguing match ups, arguably the best of the day, on paper at least, pits Belarus’ former world #1 Victoria Azarenka against the free flowing Margarita Gasparyan of Russia. Azarenka’s career has stalled over the past few seasons, with injury problems followed by a grueling custody battle, but she has been working hard to regain her place at the top of the game. It hasn’t happened yet, but she has too much talent for her struggles to continue indefinitely. And as good as Gasparyan is to watch, she’s not in Azarenka’s class yet, who should possess the defensive qualities to tame Gasparyan’s power and disappoint the St Petersburg crowd.
Prediction: Azarenka in 3
Donna Vekic vs Timea Bacsinszky
Eighth seed Donna Vekic arrived with a bang in 2012, but it has taken her some time to really find her feet as a touring professional. Now, despite occasional setbacks such as her frustrating second-round loss in Melbourne to Australia’s Kimberly Birrell, her push towards the top of the game looks to be gathering momentum. However, whilst her first-round opponent in St Petersburg, Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, may not be the force she once was, the two-time former French Open semifinalist has started the season brightly and has the quality to mix it with the best on her day. Her good start to 2019 should continue in St Petersburg.
Prediction: Bacsinszky in 3
Julia Goerges vs Maria Sakkari
After the best season of her career in 2018, which included a run to the last four at Wimbledon, Germany’s Julia Goerges will have been disappointed to crash out in the first-round in Melbourne. That her conqueror, Danielle Collins, went on to reach the semifinals will presumably have been a cold comfort. Nor does Goerges’ task get any easier in St Petersburg as she faces the tricky first-round draw of Maria Sakkari. The Greek arrives in good form after reaching the third round at the Australian Open, where she beat another big-hitter in Jelena Ostapenko. But Goerges has had the better of their rivalry in the past and beat Sakkari in St Petersburg last year. Expect the German to get back to winning ways.
Prediction: Goerges in 2
Jelena Ostapenko vs Kristina Mladenovic
In a battle of the former top ten players, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko takes on Kristina Mladenovic of France. Ostapenko’s big weapons have been misfiring badly of late, whilst Mladenovic, for all her success on the doubles court, has rather lost her way in singles. Both thus find themselves in dire need of a confidence-building win and it would be no surprise for this contest to be short on quality but high on drama. But Ostapenko’s greater power, particularly her forehand which is amongst the best in the game when it is on song, should allow her to keep Mladenovic moving and give her the decisive edge in this contest.
Prediction: Ostapenko in 3
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