The WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix gets under way in earnest on Tuesday, with six matches taking place. Maria Sakkari and Belinda Bencic kicked their tournaments off with solid wins on Monday and the rest of the stacked draw will be keen to follow suit. We take a look at which big names, if any, will move on to the next round in our WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Day 2 Predictions. We also predict the day’s other matches in a second article.
WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Day 2 Predictions
Mona Barthel vs Laura Siegemund
Head-to-head: 1 – 0 Barthel
It’s a real shame for these two that there won’t be crowds at this year’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Both are German and both are extremely comfortable on the clay which makes for an incredibly exciting match. Mona Barthel is something of a forgotten name on the women’s tour after struggling mightily in recent years. However, the 30 year old tour veteran spent several years in and around the top 50 on the tour and has four WTA titles to her name. Two of those titles came on clay, showing she is more than capable on the surface and is a real threat if she can find her best tennis.
Fellow German Laura Siegemund is equally dangerous on the red dirt and actually won this event in 2017. Unlike Barthel, Seigemund seems to have galvanised her career in the last couple of years and is playing some very good tennis in 2021. The German has a more than capable serve, a strong forehand and great variety which lends itself nicely to the clay. If she can find her best, she is undoubtedly one to watch from the rest of the pack in Stuttgart. Barthel owns the head-to-head, but that match was in 2012 so counts for very little. On current form, as well as based off of recent performances, the edge has to go to Seigemund. This could well go the distance, but I expect her to get the job done in a tournament she clearly enjoys.
Prediction: Siegemund in 3
Ulrikke Eikeri vs Anna-Lena Friedsam
Head-to-head: First meeting
Anna-Lena Friedsam is another of the four hometown hopefuls in action on Tuesday. She was once one of the promising young players on the tour, but has struggled to regain that level after several injury issues. She is also not brilliant on the red dirt, lacking the speed and agility needed to excel on the surface. That being said, she is powerful off both wings, an aggressive ball striker and very rarely gives up on a match. She has shown flashes of her formal ability several times in the last couple of years and is just one good run away from breaking back into the top 100 on the women’s tour. A run in Stuttgart would do the trick, but standing in her way is Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri.
Eikeri’s presence in the main draw is something of a surprise given she has never been ranked inside the top 200. However, she did well to come through qualifying and earned her spot. Nonetheless, Friedsam is a big step up in competition for the Norwegian. She will have to redline her game and hope Friedsam is off if she is to have a chance. I will return to my golden rule when it comes to these predictions, never pick against the person who’s racket the match is on if you can help it. So, Friedsam advances pretty comfortably here.
Prediction: Friedsam in 2
Aryna Sabalenka vs Shuai Zhang
Head-to-head: 1 – 1
On paper this is an easy win for Aryna Sabalenka. The Belorussian has been red hot this year and is a top ten player on the women’s tour. However, her game translates terribly to the clay and she has struggle mightily on the surface in the past. A 5-2 record on clay last year shows evidence of improvement, but she is still most beatable on this surface. Her ferocious groundstrokes and bully ball brand of tennis don’t reap much reward on clay. She is yet to show any variation to that approach and is likely to struggle again this year. Fortunately for her, opponent Shuai Zhang is equally mediocre on clay.
Zhang played very little tennis last year due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions in place in China. She is yet to get going this year as well. In fact, she has just three matches and no wins to her name so far in 2021. In fact, she is yet to win a set this year. Given how little tennis she has played, it’s hard to give the Chinese a sniff in this one. So, I won’t, although part of me thinks Sabalenka is very vulnerable on the surface. The Belarusian should get through this match, but don’t count on her going deep in Stuttgart.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
Main Photo from Getty.