WTA Prague Open Day 1 Predictions including Dayana Yastremska vs Irina-Camelia Begu

Dayana Yastremska in action at the WTA Prague Open

After the successful return of professional tennis at the WTA Palermo Ladies Open, focus shifts to Czechia for the WTA Prague Open, where a star-studded field, including world #2 Simona Halep will be competing. There are eight matches on the slate on the first day at the Prague Open, with Eugenie Bouchard, who takes on Veronika Kudermetova, amongst those in action. But who will advance on day one in the Czech capital?

WTA Prague Open Day 1 Predictions

Lesia Tsurenko vs Magdalena Frech (Qualifying)

Head-to-head: first meeting

This will be the first meeting between this pair in what promises to be an intriguing battle between youth and experience. The veteran Lesia Tsurenko has been ranked as high as world #23, but currently finds herself at 139th in the WTA standings after a dreadful run of form over the last 18 months. Magdalena Frech, meanwhile, looks to have a bright future ahead of her, but after being on the cusp of breaking into the top 100 in 2018, her form has stalled and she has slipped outside the top 150.

But she may well feel confident about her chances of putting together a good run at the WTA Prague Open. She played a number of clay-court exhibitions whilst the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and not without success, winning back-to-back events in her home country in July. Her return to WTA tennis did not go as planned as she crashed out in the first round of qualifying in Palermo at the hands of Kaja Juvan, but she has bounced back impressively in Prague.

In the first round of qualifying in the Czech capital, Frech scored a fine comeback win over Irina Bara, beating the Romanian 2-6 6-3 6-1. The Pole backed that up by avenging her defeat to Juvan in Palermo with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win over the Slovenian. Tsurenko, meanwhile, opened her campaign with a comprehensive 6-3 6-2 win over Oceane Dodin before rallying from a set down to beat the 16-year-old Barbora Palicova.

But Tsurenko’s struggles in that match may well give Frech confidence. Palicova may well have be a star in the making, but she is not a player one would expect Tsurenko to struggle to beat. And considering Frech’s fine form of late on the clay, the Pole looks to be in good position to really challenge Tsurenko. Expect her to book her place in the main draw.

Prediction: Frech in 3
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Tamara Korpatsch vs Elena-Gabriela Ruse (Qualifying)

Head-to-head: Ruse 1-0 Korpatsch

Tamara Korpatsch is the only seeded player to have reached the final round of qualifying at the WTA Prague Open. She has an very good record on clay and is probably a better player on the red dirt than her ranking suggests. In the first round of qualifying, she proved too strong for Jacqueline Cristian, winning 6-1 7-6 despite a strong rearguard action from the Romanian in the second set. Korpatsch then beat Nadia Podoroska, who last week qualified for the main draw in Palermo, 7-6 6-3.

Elena-Gabriela Ruse, meanwhile, looked sharp in her opener, overcoming Dutchwoman Indy de Vroome 6-3 6-4. That set up a second-round clash with the sixth seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who reached the quarterfinals in Palermo as a qualifier last week. It was a hard-fought affair, but Ruse eventually claimed a deserved 6-7 6-4 7-6 win. That will surely have given her real confidence going forward as will her win over Korpatsch on the clay of Montreux in 2018 in their only previous meeting.

That match went the distance and this meeting looks likely to be equally closely contested. But it may well be Korpatsch who has the edge. Ruse’s win over Sasnovich was surely mentally and physically taxing, which could leave her short of her best up against Korpatsch. And with the German in such excellent form, that would surely prove fatal to her chances of reaching the main draw in Prague.

Prediction: Korpatsch in 3
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Jasmine Paolini vs Elise Mertens

Head-to-head: Mertens 1-0 Paolini

Elise Mertens made her return to action last week in Palermo where she was seeded fifth, but was well-beaten in the first round by Sasnovich, a player ranked below Jasmine Paolini in the WTA rankings. The Belgian looked very rusty in that match, which perhaps does not bode well for her chances in Prague this week. Particularly because, despite having lost more often than she has won across all three surfaces, Paolini’s record on clay over the past two years is excellent.

She certainly has the game on the clay to trouble Mertens. In their only previous meeting, which came on an Italian clay-court in the Fed Cup, although Mertens won in straight-sets, she was given a real tests by Paolini in the second set. And with the Italian having looked the sharper of the pair since the season restarted, despite suffering a bruising 0-6 2-6 loss to Sasnovich in the second round in Palermo, the Belgian could well be facing another early exit.

Prediction: Paolini in 2
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Dayana Yastremska vs Irina-Camelia Begu

Head-to-head: first meeting

The suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic came at the worst possible time for Irina-Camelia Begu. After an indifferent start to the season in Australia, the 29-year-old won two tournaments in three weeks, including the prestigious Oracle Indian Wells WTA 125k which she won without dropping a set. She had appeared to be recapturing the sort of form that had taken her as high as 22nd in the world rankings in 2016.

But her return to action in Palermo was rather disappointing as she fell to a straight-sets defeat at the hands of Laura Siegemund in the first round. And she faces what looks likely to be a stern test in her opener in Prague up against fourth seed Dayana Yastremska. The Ukrainian, ranked 25th in the world, has won three WTA titles, including the Internationaux de Strasbourg on clay, and will surely be targeting a deep run in Prague.

Last week, she reached the quarterfinals in Palermo and may well feel she should have gone further after squandering two match points in a three-set defeat to Camila Giorgi. That loss may well still be playing on her mind, but if she can temper her power from the baseline with sufficient accuracy, she should have too much quality for the Romanian, who has a solid serve and baseline game, but lacks the firepower to go toe-to-toe with Yastremska.

Prediction: Yastremska in 2

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