Only the top two seeds received a first round bye in Palermo. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson will be in action on Thursday though and will have to come through some real tests. Kuznetsova’s match is in our other set of predictions prepared for the second round in Istanbul. Who do you think will make the quarterfinals?
Polona Hercog vs Jasmine Paolini
Head-to-head: First meeting
Polona Hercog was a bit unlucky not to get a win since the restart before this week, running into Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Simona Halep in Palermo and Prague, respectively. Her level was great against Halep though, as she managed to take the eventual winner to a third set tie-break. She managed to impress in her first-round here though, defeating Turkish wildcard Berfu Cengiz without even facing a breakpoint. Jasmine Paolini had a bit of a slow start against Stefanie Voegele, struggling to make a smooth transition to clay. Paolini should be no match to Hercog’s power, but she’s a good fighter who can grind out wins on clay. Expect Hercog too have too much in the end though.
Prediction: Hercog in 3
Caroline Garcia vs Tereza Martincova
Head-to-head: Garcia 3-1
Caroline Garcia had a real tough time dispatching Cagla Buyukakcay in the first round. Despite the lack of crowd, the 2016 surprise champion fought hard and almost pulled off another upset on home soil. Gone was the certainty and determination with which Garcia blew Karolina Pliskova off the court at the US Open. But you know what they say, Istanbul wasn’t built in a day. She will get more used to being back on clay with every match and it would be unwise to expect such a tentative performance again. Tereza Martincova played well in her first-round against Greet Minnen but the result here should still rely on Garcia’s performance. Martincova’s good enough to take a set though, especially if the Frenchwoman is unsure of her game.
Prediction: Garcia in 3
Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Head-to-head: Sasnovich 4-1
This should be great. Both players are playing very well at the moment. Sasnovich made the third round at the US Open and struggled a bit with the quick transition to clay but made amends just in time to beat Zarina Diyas. Schmiedlova impressed in clay exhibitions during the summer and made the quarterfinals last week at an ITF event in Prague, losing to Elisabetta Cocciaretto. Sasnovich has the head-to-head advantage and should be able to force Schmiedlova into defensive positions. She’s also played a lot more top-level tennis than the Slovakian recently, reaching the quarterfinals at a tour-level event in Palermo last month.
Prediction: Sasnovich in 3
Rebecca Peterson vs Margarita Gasparyan
Head-to-head: Peterson 1-0
Rebecca Peterson is yet to win a match after the restart. Following a loss to Camila Giorgi on clay in Palermo, the Swede went to the US and dropped both her opening matches to Elise Mertens and Kirsten Flipkens. She should feel quite at home on clay, as she had a lot of success on that surface historically, although mostly on the ITF Tour. As the second seed, she received a first round bye. Tough to say whether that will actually be an advantage against Margarita Gasparyan, who also came back from the States but already played one match here, against Turkish wildcard Pemra Ozgen. The Russian has been in a slump lately but got some confidence back with a decent match against Serena Williams at the US Open. Gasparyan played well enough in her first game that she should have a chance here. The Russian’s one-handed backhand is a great weapon on clay and it helped her reach the semifinals here last year. It might just be enough to prevail against a possibly rusty opponent.
Prediction: Gasparyan in 3