Monday at the 2020 Top Seed Open saw tennis remind us how frustrating rain delays can be, but with some qualifying matches taking place indoors the organizers were able to conduct all 12 singles games planned. Day 2 will include all the remaining first-round matches. We have predictions for all of them, including Serena William’s opener against Bernarda Pera.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Olga Govortsova
Head-to-head: Mattek-Sands 2-1
An old rivalry will be revisited in this battle of the qualifiers. The pair met three times back in 2007/8, It’s been 12 years and these results should probably be treated more like a curiosity than any indicator of where this match is gonna go. Mattek-Sands had the more wobbly qualifying campaign, enduring Robin Anderson serving for the match in the deciding set on Monday. The American might have it in her for at least one more big hurray in her career but it’s unlikely to happen here. Olga Govortsova dropped the first set to Katie Volynets but was sublime since then, losing just six games in her next four sets. The Belarusian will have more left in the tank and without the crowd, playing in the States will give Mattek-Sands less of an advantage.
Prediction: Mattek-Sands in 3
Shelby Rogers vs Misaki Doi
Head-to-head: First meeting
Shelby Rogers played her share of exhibition tennis during the break, trading wins with players such as Jessica Pegula or Leylah Annie Fernandez. She also impressed with an incredibly dominant dismissal of Anna Kalinskaya. Misaki Doi hasn’t shown up on court since March and can be expected to come pretty undercooked. How both players will handle the rust cannot be predicted, but as Rogers played and looked fine not so long ago, we’ll go with American for the winner. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating Doi though, the Japanese has substantial power off the ground and can surely make this interesting.
Prediction: Rogers in 3
Ajla Tomljanovic vs Yulia Putintseva
Tomljanovic came out as the winner against Putintseva this year in Hobart. However, the Australian’s high-risk type of game can easily be punished by a decent counterpuncher. Putinsteva’s retrieval skills will come in handy in this matchup, allowing her to force errors off Tomljanovic. Working in the Australian’s favor should be the slight advantage of having played exhibition tennis recently, participating in the WorldTeamTennis exhibition. This should be a tight affair and with her determination and feistiness, Putinsteva seems more likely to go the extra mile.
Prediction: Putintseva in 3
Leylah Annie Fernandez vs Sloane Stephens
Head-to-head: Fernandez 1-0
The first two months of the season saw these two going in entirely different trajectories. The 17-year-old Canadian suddenly became the center of attention after a runner-up finish in Acapulco. Stephens, meanwhile, won just one game in five events, losing to Fernandez in Monterrey. The Canadian is still ranked pretty low and had to qualify to the main draw here with straightforward wins over Renata Zarazua and Arina Rodionova. If she’s anything near her level from before the break, Fernandez is one of the most underrated ball-strikers on the tour and can be expected to force Stephens to play this one on her own terms.
Prediction: Fernandez in 3
Venus Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
Head-to-head: Williams 5-2
It’s still a blockbuster, but it might get ugly. Azarenka (counting exhibitions) is now on a five-match losing streak and only played in a ranking event once this year, beaten soundly by Tamara Zidansek. It’s not like Venus Williams is doing any better though, with just one win in five attempts during the WorldTeamTennis exhibition tournament. Before the pandemic, Venus failed to score a win in three events this season. At this rate, each season can be the last for both former greats. I’ll give the slight edge to Venus who got a bit more matchplay lately and used to dominate this matchup in the past.
Prediction: Williams in 3