Petra Kvitova begins her title defense in Stuttgart on Tuesday against Jennifer Brady. With the top four seeds only in action on Wednesday, we should have a good idea of who their biggest challengers are by the end of Tuesday’s play. We take a look at who should move on to fight another day 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
Ekaterina Alexandrova vs Karolina Muchova
Head-to-head: 1 – 0 Muchova
This has the makings of a great match. Ekaterina Alexandrova isn’t brilliant on clay, but can give anyone problems if she starts painting lines from both wings as she has shown she can do. That being said, the Russian likely won’t have much in her hitting zone playing against Karolina Muchova. How well she does in this match will come down to how patient she can be in waiting for the opportunity to unleash her immense power off the ground. If she rushes or doesn’t handle the variations well, she could be in for a difficult match.
Muchova by contrast is most comfortable on the clay. She has vastly improved her hard court game, as evidenced by her run to the semifinals of the Australian Open this year. Nonetheless, her variety and court coverage are suit the red dirt best. 2021 could be a huge year for her if she can make deep runs in the European clay court swing of the tour. She already sits at a career best of #22 and could well finish comfortably inside the top 20 if she carries on at this level. This match is undoubtedly the Czech’s to lose given her recent form and Alexandrova’s struggles this year. It may be a tight affair if the Russian can right ship, but Muchova should advance.
Prediction: Muchova in 3
Anett Kontaveit vs Julia Middendorf
Head-to-head: First meeting
Julia Middendorf is undoubtedly the biggest surprise in the main draw in Stuttgart. The 18-year-old is unranked and unheard of by all accounts. However, she beat solid opposition to earn her place in the main draw and now has an immense opportunity in front of her. She is undoubtedly a huge underdog in this match, but could well cause Anett Kontaveit problems if she plays without fear or nerves. She has the advantage of being acclimatised to the courts in Stuttgart, something which often carries more weight than one would imagine.
However, in Kontaveit she faces one of the WTA Tour’s more consistent performers. Kontaveit looked set for a real breakthrough this year after a strong end to 2020. She “won” the Grampians Trophy in Melbourne prior to the Australian Open, but has done little since. In truth she appears to still be plagued by inconsistency and poor decision-making. Nonetheless, she is capable of elite tennis when on song and is a very real threat in every tournament she plays. She is also very comfortable on the clay. She is the superior player here by quite some way. Barring a complete meltdown, the Estonian should advance here.
Prediction: Kontaveit in 2
Petra Kvitova vs Jennifer Brady
Head-to-head: 2 – 0 Kvitova
What a match this should be. Jennifer Brady has been the best player on the tour not named Naomi Osaka since its resumption last year. She made the semifinals of the US Open in 2020 and backed that up with a finals appearance at the Australian Open this year. However, she is not the same player on clay. Brady has amassed just 10 wins on the surface since the start of 2017. She does have an ITF title on clay, but for the most part has struggled to translate her game effectively. She has improved immensely over the last year so though, so a similar improvement on clay is not out of the question. It will certainly be needed if she is to put up a challenge against Petra Kvitova.
Kvitova won her first title since the 2019 version of this tournament last month in Doha. She also has five clay court trophies in her collection, so is undoubtedly more comfortable than her opponent on clay. The difficult thing about calling matches involving Kvitova is that she has abandoned all semblance of a plan B in terms of how she approaches her tennis. She is bullishly determined to do things her way or not at all.
Given the fact she is lucky to be playing tennis at all that is hardly surprising. Nonetheless, it does mean she loses matches she shouldn’t a little too often for someone of her talent. I don’t see that happening here though. The Czech looks to be in great form this year and is clearly enjoying her tennis again. She may well defend her trophy this week. However, if she doesn’t she should still move past this test at the very least.
Prediction: Kvitova in 2
Main Photo from Getty.