With thunderstorms approaching in the late afternoon, Irina-Camelia Begu voiced a few words of encouragement to the umpire and that was it for quarterfinals day at the WTA Prague Open. The Romanian had just been broken at the beginning of the second set, having taken the first set against Sara Sorribes Tormo. That may well have been the source of some frustration for the Spaniard Tormo, who will need to rebuild her momentum when play resumes.
But whoever comes through that match will face a stern semifinal test in the shape of Simona Halep. Halep, who is the top seed in Prague and the only member of the top ten to have made the trip to the Czech capital, demolished Magdalena Frech 6-2 6-0 in their quarterfinal and will surely be the firm favourite tomorrow. But one semifinal has already been set in the Czech capital and it promises to be a thriller. But who will book their place in Sunday’s final?
WTA Prague Open Semifinal Predictions
Elise Mertens vs Krystina Pliskova
Head-to-head: Mertens 2-0 Pliskova
Elise Mertens was far from her best in Palermo, the first WTA tournament after the resumption of the season, where she lost in the first round to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in straight-sets. But although she made a slightly slow start at the WTA Prague Open, having to battle hard to get past world #95 Jasmine Paolini in her opener, she has found some form. Her wins over Camila Giorgi and the resurgent Eugenie Bouchard illustrate as much, with Mertens having regained her competitive edge.
Kristyna Pliskova, meanwhile, is perhaps somewhat fortunate to have reached the semifinals. The Czech did make an excellent start to the week in Prague, dismissing the teenaged wildcard Linda Fruhvirtova in straight-sets before recording an equally comprehensive win over second seed Petra Martic. But she was then handed a place in the last four when her quarterfinal opponent Ana Bogdan was forced to retire with a thigh injury when leading 5-2 in the first set.
That said, the big-serving Pliskova has certainly benefitted from the relatively fast court surface at the WTA Prague Open. Mertens may well find it difficult to make inroads against the Czech’s serve as a result, although Bogdan did break her twice in the semifinals. And if Mertens can get returns into play, she should have the advantage off the ground. Expect Pliskova to have moments of ascendancy, but for Mertens to continue her impressive form in Prague by reaching the final.
Prediction: Mertens in 3
Simona Halep vs Irina-Camelia Begu
Head-to-head: Halep 6-0 Begu
Halep has looked increasingly formidable at the WTA Prague Open. The top seed was not at her best in her opener, which was her first match since the season restarted, but found a way past Polona Hercog in a third-set tiebreak. She was again taken the distance in the second round, but finished strongly to beat Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic before demolishing Poland’s Magdalena Frech in the quarterfinals.
Begu, as mentioned above, had to wait overnight to finish her quarterfinal with Sara Sorribes Tormo, but ultimately recorded a deserved 6-2 4-6 6-2 win over the Spaniard. However, whilst she has impressed all week, particularly in her comprehensive first-round win over Anastasija Sevastova, she looks set for a difficult day when she goes up against her compatriot in the last four. This will be their sixth meeting and Begu has won just one of the previous 13 sets.
And one suspects that having to play twice in one day will not help her cause. Halep is one of the best movers in the women’s game and will surely look to extend the rallies against Begu. But Halep also has plenty of firepower, particularly off the forehand side. There are few players more adept at taking the ball on the rise off that wing than the world #2 and if she is able to bring that shot into play regularly, she should prove too strong for Begu.
Prediction: Halep in 2
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