WTA Prague Open Day 1 Predictions including Veronika Kudermetova vs Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard in action at the WTA Prague Open

Following the successful return of the WTA Tour in Palermo last week, where Fiona Ferro claimed the second title of her nascent career, the action moves this week to Czechia for the WTA Prague Open. Amongst those in action on the first day is fourth seed Dayana Yastremska, who takes on Irina-Camelia Begu. But who will advance on day one in the Czech capital?

WTA Prague Open Day 1 Predictions

Marta Kostyuk vs Storm Sanders (Qualifying)

Head-to-head: first meeting

Both of these players looked to be in good shape before the season was suspended. The 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk won the girl’s singles title at the Australian Open in 2017 and reached the third round in Melbourne a year later. She has, however, failed to return to the main draw at a Major since and last week lost in the second round of qualifying in Palermo to Liudmila Samsonova. Nonetheless, the future looks to be bright for the Ukrainian young gun.

She has certainly rebounded impressively from the disappointment of her defeat in Palermo, scoring wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Tereza Martincova in the first two rounds of qualifying in Prague. Her victory over Friedsam was particularly impressive with the German ranked 106th in the world and with career-high ranking of world #45. But Kostyuk will likely have to be at her best when she takes on Storm Sanders.

The Australian has spent much of her career sidelined by injury and has relatively little clay-court experience as a result. In fact, the WTA Prague Open is the only clay-court tournament she has played in the last two years. But she has looked sharp so far, beating both eighth seed Ysaline Bonaventure and Jesika Maleckova in straight-sets. She had also been playing some excellent tennis before the season was suspended, with the highlight a run to the last 16 in Hua Hin.

But will that be enough against Kostyuk? It is hard to ignore the 18-year-old’s greater clay-court pedigree. Notably, Kostyuk reached the quarterfinals at the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg, taking a set off Caroline Garcia there, as well as qualifying for the Madrid Open last season. Sanders has been playing well enough to suggest that this match may well go the distance, but expect the teenager to be the one to qualify for the main draw.

Prediction: Kostyuk in 3
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Mayar Sherif vs Leonie Kung (Qualifying)

Head-to-head: Sherif 1-0 Kung

This will be the second meeting between this pair, with the first having come in the final of a clay-court ITF $25k in Las Palmas in August 2019. Leonie Kung won’t have fond memories of that match, with Mayar Sherif brushing her aside for the loss of just one game. And Sherif comes into this match in excellent form, having beaten Giulia Gatto-Monticone of Italy 6-3 6-2 before hammering Norway’s Ulrikke Eikeri 6-2 6-1.

That said, Kung has played some fine tennis herself so far in Prague. The Swiss, who reached the final in Hua Hin earlier this season, opened her qualifying campaign with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 win over world #117 Liudmila Samsonova and backed that win up by rallying from a set down to beat the Romanian veteran Laura Ioana Paar. But Sherif’s win in Las Palmas was so one-sided that for all Kung’s improvements in the interim, it is hard to see any outcome other than a win for the Egyptian.

Prediction: Sherif in 3
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Kristyna Pliskova vs Linda Fruhvirtova

Head-to-head: first meeting

It was no surprise to learn that the WTA Prague Open organisers had elected to present a wildcard to Linda Fruhvirtova, who was a key member of the Czech team that won the ITF World Team Tennis Championships in 2019. The 15-year-old is a competitive baseliner and enjoyed some impressive results at ITF-level earlier this year, including a quarterfinal showing in Altenkirchen, which should stand her in good stead on her debut at WTA-level.

But this will also mark a significant step up for Fruhvirtova. Kristyna Pliskova may not be able to match her twin sister’s achievements, but she has carved out an impressive career for herself and was runner-up in Prague in 2017. It seems inevitable that she will have too much power for her young compatriot, with her serve and forehand a particularly fearsome combination. Fruhvirtova’s fighting spirit may well enable her to keep it close, but expect Pliskova to make it through to the second round.

Prediction: Pliskova in 3
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Veronika Kudermetova vs Eugenie Bouchard

Head-to-head: Bouchard 1-0 Kudermetova

Fans of Eugenie Bouchard will be hoping that the Canadian used the lengthy break in the season to work on her game. There is no doubt that the 26-year-old is talented, but the 2014 Wimbledon finalist has badly lost her way over the past few years, with a nasty concussion sustained at the 2015 US Open not helping her cause. As a result, Bouchard finds herself ranked 332nd in the world, 327 spots down from her career-high of world #5. But could her resurgence start in Prague?

Bouchard did claim some encouraging wins in exhibition tennis over the lockdown. The Canadian beat Jamie Loeb at the Young Kings Scholarship Tournament in Kentucky, before getting the better of her highly rated compatriot Leylah Annie Fernandez in Charleston. Then, in arguably her best performance, she beat Danielle Collins during the World Team Tennis event. But she will likely need to be at her very best when she steps on to court to face Veronika Kudermetova.

The Russian, who is seeded eighth in Prague, has a markedly better record on clay than Bouchard at WTA-level, with a winning record through her career. Bouchard has not won a clay-court match at WTA-level since beating Kudermetova herself in 2018 in Gstaad. Kudermetova is surely the favourite as a result. But Bouchard will be able to take confidence from that win and looks to have returned from the break in good shape and with a positive attitude. Expect her to pull off the upset here.

Prediction: Bouchard in 3

Main photo:
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