WTA Charleston Day 3 Predictions Including Ashleigh Barty vs Misaki Doi

Ashleigh Barty in action ahead of the WTA Charleston Open.

With the European clay-court season looming large on the horizon, the WTA Charleston Open provides players with a valuable chance to get some clay-court match practice under their belts after the conclusion of the surviving half of the Sunshine Double in Miami.

On day four in South Carolina, there are 13 second-round matches on the slate and, as always, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the schedule, including Shelby Rogers vs Amanda Anisimova and Sloane Stephens vs Madison Keys. But who will reach the third round?

WTA Charleston Open Day Four Predictions

Marketa Vondrousova vs Kurumi Nara

Head-to-head: Vondrousova 1-0 Nara

One suspects that Marketa Vondrousova will be glad to be back on the clay. The Czech played some good tennis on hard courts earlier in the season, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and the third round in Miami, but there is no doubt that she is at her best on the terre battue. After receiving a first-round bye, she is set to start her campaign against Japan’s Kurumi Nara, who got the better of Francesca di Lorenzo in the first round after coming through the qualifying.

Vondrousova won this pair’s only previous meeting, which came in 2018 in the first round at the Australian Open, but Nara has been playing well enough so far in Charleston to suggest that this will not be a formality for Vondrousova. The Japanese has already won three matches this week, all without dropping a set, albeit against lesser opposition. Ultimately, however, it is hard to see Nara overcoming her lack of firepower against a player of Vondrousova’s quality.

Prediction: Vondrousova in 3
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Leylah Fernandez vs Danka Kovinic

Head-to-head: first meeting

After excelling en route to the title in Monterrey, which she won without dropping a set, Leylah Fernandez was no doubt bitterly disappointed to have lost in the first round of qualifying at the WTA Miami Open. But the Canadian bounced back with a comprehensive 6-1 6-3 win over Zheng Saisai in the first round in Charleston, with that win setting up a second-round clash with Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, who edged out Gabriela Talaba in her opener.

The experienced Kovinic, who has been ranked as high as world #46, should not be underestimated, particularly on the clay. Nonetheless, this is surely a match that Fernandez should be winning. There are still areas of the 19-year-old’s game to improve, most importantly her serve, but she has looked increasingly confident in dictating from the baseline and can hurt opponents with both her forehand and backhand. Expect her to prove too strong for Kovinic.

Prediction: Fernandez in 2
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Cori Gauff vs Liudmila Samsonova

Head-to-head: Gauff 1-0 Samsonova

It is hard to escape the feeling that Cori Gauff’s progress has rather plateaued in recent months. That is not a reason to panic, she is, after all, still only 17, but it will present the American with an important mental test. Liudmila Samsonova, meanwhile, has ambitions of her own to realise. The 22-year-old remains outside the world’s top 100, but has been in good form of late, coming through the qualifying in Adelaide and Miami, where she reached the second round.

She backed that up by thrashing Nao Hibino in the first round at the WTA Charleston Open, losing just three games to the Japanese veteran. But one suspects that Gauff will offer rather more resistance. The American started her week with an equally dominant win over Tsvetana Pironkova and, although she is at her best on faster surfaces, her athleticism can make her very difficult to hit through on the clay. Expect her to grind Samsonova down.

Prediction: Gauff in 3
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Ashleigh Barty vs Misaki Doi

Head-to-head: first meeting

It is a testament to just how high the standards Ashleigh Barty has set that one can look at her 2021, which has seen her win titles at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic and in Miami, and still be slightly disappointed. Misaki Doi, meanwhile, arrived at the WTA Charleston Open having suffered a disappointing first-round defeat in Miami that checked the momentum she had been building in Doha and Dubai, but the Japanese bounced back in impressive style, beating Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 6-3 in the first round.

It seems unlikely that she will manage to get past the world #1 however. Barty’s game may not seem particularly well-suited to the clay at first glance, but the Australian excels at making life uncomfortable for her opponents regardless of what surface she plays on. Her sliced backhand does lose some of its bite on the red dirt, but she can compensate for that with a topspin-heavy forehand and accurate serving. In short, she surely has far too many options for Doi to combat.

Prediction: Barty in 3

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