Quarterfinal day at the WTA Prague Open is here and only two seeded players are left standing. Whether it is due to the long, enforced break or just the nature of WTA International events the top players have found life very difficult on the clay of Czechia.
Simona Halep again had to battle through her match, taking three sets to win for the second match in a row. Who will win the quarterfinal matches? Let’s take a look.
WTA Prague Quarterfinal Predictions
Ana Bogdan vs Kristyna Pliskova
Head-to-Head Record: Pliskova 5-0 Bogdan
Bogdan has been quite fortunate to get to this stage of the tournament. Having initially been drawn to play Dayana Yastremska she ended up playing lucky loser Storm Sanders. If that wasn’t already luck enough the Romanian received a bye through to the quarterfinals when Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from the tournament. This may leave Bogdan slightly undercooked for this test.
Pliskova, on the other hand, took on and defeated top 20 player Petra Martic to reach this stage. The tall Czech produced a serving masterclass to take out the Croatian. Nine aces were sent down and 86% of first service points were won by Pliskova, and she backed it up on second serve as well winning 68% of points there too. To not lose serve at all against such a good all-round player as Martic is highly impressive.
This Prague court is proving to be quite quick for clay court. This will probably help both players as both are serve-oriented. However, Pliskova certainly took advantage of the conditions against Martic and if this form is repeated then Bogdan will struggle to live with the power and pace of the Pliskova serve and forehand.
Prediction: Pliskova in 2
Simona Halep vs Magdalena Frech
No previous meetings
As eluded to earlier Halep had difficulties in getting past Barbora Krejcikova. Having dropped the first set the Romanian had to come back from a break down in the second as well. Having done so she then proceeded to fail to serve out the set from 40-0 up. This will be frustrating for her, even if she did go on to win in the end.
Magdalena Frech lost in the final round of qualifying but here she is in the quarterfinals. She certainly chose the best time to strike in the deciding set against Arantxa Rus. She took her first breakpoint in the set at 4-4 and served out confidently. Frech has played a lot of clay-court tennis recently and perhaps this is beginning to show.
It is difficult to know how to assess Halep this week. She is clearly determined to win, but there are a lot of problems with her game. Regardless, that determination should be enough to get past the world #173. It wouldn’t be a surprise if it took three sets again, and Halep will have to begin to play better to win the title, but back her to make it to the semifinal.
Prediction: Halep in 3
Eugenie Bouchard vs Elise Mertens
Head-to-Head Record: Mertens 4-0 Bouchard
Bouchard has continued her fine form from the World TeamTennis exhibitions into the return of the WTA. It was really pleasing to see the Canadian back up her opening-round win with a three-set victory against Tamara Zidansek. Bouchard said in her post-match interview that she was pleased to regain her focus after losing the second set, so she seems happy and confident in her mentality.
Mertens has started to find some form, however. She has a very strong record over Bouchard and so that should provide her with even more confidence. The Belgian’s straight-sets victory over the dangerous Camila Giorgi was in the main a victory won on the first serve and the ability of Mertens to save breakpoints.
Bouchard seemed quite dismissive of the fact that Mertens has a winning record against her. To be fair, the last time they played was over two years ago and was decided in a sudden death champions tie-break. Bouchard is probably playing some of her best tennis for a couple of years, but she is still having trouble remaining consistent, especially on the backhand side. Mertens should be more consistent and that will help the Belgian get through to the semifinals.
Prediction: Mertens in 3
Main Photo from Getty.