The final eight women at the 2021 WTA Gippsland Trophy have been confirmed. That includes the top two seeds at the event. Who will advance into the semifinals on what promises to be a day of high-octane tennis at Melbourne Park?
WTA Gippsland Quarterfinal Predictions
Elina Svitolina vs Elise Mertens
Head-to-head: Svitolina 3-1 Mertens
Svitolina and Mertens are two resolute and disciplined counterpunchers. But surprisingly, all four of their previous matches have been one-sided contests. This could follow suit. For large patches in the first set against Ostapenko, Svitolina was playing catchup. That was until the Latvian started loosening and misfiring. I expect Mertens to be a complete opposite; not just in keeping the unforced error count low, but punishing any slow start from the Ukrainian.
Prediction: Mertens in 2
Naomi Osaka vs Irina-Camelia Begu
Head-to-head: first meeting
Naomi Osaka survived a real scare to end Katie Boulter’s charge this week. The number two seed fought back from a set down to win in three. Osaka conceded, perhaps subconsciously, she needed to play a long match to improve her fitness and gauge the court condition. This was after playing a rather short match in beating Alize Cornet a day before. She will play Irina-Camelia Begu for the first time in the quarterfinals.
The Romanian rode her luck a few times against Johanna Konta, saving multiple match points to end Great Britain’s participation at the WTA Gippsland Trophy in a near three and half hour marathon. Osaka might still be refining her game at these early stages of the season, but she still retains the aura of a top-ten player.
Prediction: Osaka in 2
Kaia Kanepi vs Karolina Muchova
Head-to-head: first meeting
Kaia Kanepi’s current winning streak may not have been a headline-grabbing achievement before this week, but after beating Aryna Sabalenka, a lot of people are starting to take notice. Kanepi won ten straight matches on the ITF circuit to close out her 2020 season with back-to-back titles at that level. She has now extended that winning sequence, by adding three more victories Down Under. A meeting against the tenacious Czech Karolina Muchova will certainly be intriguing. The Estonian feels she has found her rhythm after a tough opening round. And her assertion that when she plays her best tennis, she is tough to beat holds a lot of water.
Prediction: Kanepi in 3
Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Alexandrova
Head-to-head: Halep 1-1 Alexandrova
Simona Halep managed to avoid her French Open conqueror thanks in part to Ekaterina Alexandrova, who played superbly to take out Iga Swiatek in the previous round. The real test for the Russian begins here. Halep has been terrorizing her opponents with her speed and exceptional court coverage. But Alexandrova is the kind of player that can fire winners at will even against one of the best defense in the women’s game. She beat Halep in their most recent meeting at the China Open in convincing fashion. There is little evidence to suggest Halep could be on the receiving end of another beating. However, if the Russian big hitter comes swinging early on and picks her spots behind her booming first delivery, she could make things very difficult for the Romanian top seed.
Prediction: Alexandrova in 3
Main Photo from Getty.