The WTA Shenzhen Open witnessed its first upset as Belinda Bencic was caught off guard by Anna Blinkova in the first round. Which players will advance to the quarterfinals in the upper half of the draw?
WTA Shenzhen Wednesday Predictions
Garbiñe Muguruza vs Shelby Rogers
Head to Head: Muguruza 1-0 Rogers
Believe it or not, the lone precedent of this matchup took place at the 2016 French Open quarterfinals. A lot has changed since. Muguruza endured arguably the worst season of her career in 2019, while Rogers is still getting up to speed after her lost season in 2018. At No. 174, it would be tempting to rule her out in this match, but the 27-year-old American has four Top 20 wins on hard. She can play.
Both began their tournament with a three-setter. I was impressed how Muguruza kept her composure after Xinyu Wang’s blitzing start. The two-time Slam titlist turned the match around in impressive fashion and surely gained confidence. It was only her second win since Roland Garros.
Rogers will put up a fierce battle, but Muguruza’s high-powered game will eventually prevail.
Prediction: Muguruza in 2
Qiang Wang vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Head to Head: first meeting
Like Muguruza, another player who mightily struggled in the second half of 2019 was Sasnovich. Aside from her run to the Limoges (WTA 125,000) final, the Belarusian only collected three wins since Madrid. She added a fourth one here in Shenzhen, but her spot in the Top 100 is in peril if she doesn’t step up her game soon. Right now, since she’s dropping 210 points from her Sydney semifinal, her live ranking stands at No. 99.
Wang, who eased past Ons Jabeur in the round of 32, said that her main goal this season is to qualify for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, according to fellow LWOT writer Jake Davies. Too ambitious? Maybe, I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on it, but she’s the more solid player in this match.
Prediction: Wang in 2
Shuai Peng vs Ekaterina Alexandrova
Head to Head: first meeting
Alexandrova entered the Shenzhen Open last year ranked No. 73. Fast forward twelve months and, despite a subpar 3-7 record on clay, the Russian is up to No. 37. She was a force to be reckoned with on hard, upsetting Caroline Wozniacki, Simona Halep or Fed Cup hero Kristina Mladenovic.
The 33-year-old Peng had an atrocious first half of 2019, obtaining one single win in her first ten matches, through Toronto. Fortunately for her interests, the 2014 Shenzhen finalist put together a strong end of season, climbing from No. 169 at the US Open to her current No. 109.
This is probably the trickiest match to call, but eventually I think Alexandrova takes it.
Prediction: Alexandrova in 3
Anna Blinkova vs Zarina Diyas
Head to Head: Diyas 2-1 Blinkova
Blinkova made a statement as she defeated top seed Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-3 6-3. The Russian, who fired 12 total aces, elevated her game in the decider, winning 16 out of 18 service points.
At the same time, Diyas is a winning machine in 2020. Prior to her routine first round win over Ying-Ying Duan, the Kazakh did not drop a set en route to the ITF title in Hong Kong, just across the border from Shenzhen.
Blinkova took a fairly recent meeting in Beijing last fall, but she will feel the pressure of backing up her Bencic upset.
Prediction: Diyas in 3
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