We’re into the quarterfinal stage of the 2021 WTA Madrid Open. The biggest hit of the day will undoubtedly be the 10th meeting between Ashleigh Barty and Petra Kvitova. But every matchup on the schedule looks tasty. as the likes of recent Stuttgart runner-up Aryna Sabalenka and home crowd favorite Paula Badosa take the court on Wednesday. Who will make the final four?
WTA Madrid Open Quarterfinal Predictions
Paula Badosa vs Belinda Bencic
Head-to-head: Badosa 1-0
The two met just a month ago in Charleston, and Paula Badosa triumphed in three sets. The ones she won were very comfortable and it should give her a nice boost of confidence going into this one. It’s been one of the best weeks of the Spaniard’s pro career and she’s clearly enjoying herself on the court. This should a beautiful battle of backhand exchanges and the conditions in Madrid should favor Badosa by a bit. Getting support from the audience could be a factor too.
Prediction: Badosa in 3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Karolina Muchova
Head-to-head: Pavlyuchenkova 1-0
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova wasn’t having a good time on the WTA circuit in 2021, but it’s exactly runs like these which have kept her finishing inside the Top 50 every year since 2008. She’s the kind of player that can be extremely hard to stop once she gets on a roll. But so is Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova, who’s been flying under the radar mostly as she hasn’t played for two months after that success Down Under. She’s back in business though with stunning wins over Maria Sakkari and Naomi Osaka. Some rustiness was visible in Stuttgart but she’s managed to shake off all the dust here. But her marathon win over the aforementioned Greek might take its toll on her physically and allow Pavlyuchenkova to get a bit too bullish in the rallies.
Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova in 3
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elise Mertens
Head-to-head: Sabalenka 4-2
Aryna Sabalenka wasn’t exactly recognized for her clay-court abilities before this season, but it looks like the Belarusian has managed to find her footing in the faster conditions at Stuttgart and Madrid. She is yet to drop more than three games in a set this week, and her only losses since the middle of March came against Ashleigh Barty.
Elise Mertens also finds herself in brilliant form, having reached the final at Istanbul (lost to Sorana Cirstea) and defeated 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep here. The two won two Grand Slams together in doubles and know everything about their games. Sabalenka’s superior firepower is an asset that can allow her to gain full control over a match, especially in these slightly faster clay conditions. This will no doubt be the toughest test she’s had to face thus far.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 2
Ashleigh Barty vs Petra Kvitova
Head-to-head: Kvitova 5-4
That’s a blockbuster right there. Petra Kvitova took their only clay-court meeting back in 2012, when Ashleigh Barty was just 16. The Czech is usually recognized for her ability to play on faster surfaces, but she feels extremely well in the conditions at Madrid and leads the standings of most titles won at this event (2011, 2015, 2018). Her form coming into the week hasn’t been as exceptional as Barty’s. However, one just cannot write Kvitova off at the Caja Magica, especially after great wins over such competitors as Veronika Kudermetova or Angelique Kerber.
Ashleigh Barty won her last seven matches, including a fantastic run to the title in Stuttgart. It’s been no bed of roses with four sets lost along the way but the World No. 1 always finds the way to secure a win. Barty’s big-time performances under pressure have been the biggest story in the WTA of late and the Australian has the edge if this match goes deep into the third set. And let’s hope it will.
Prediction: Barty in 3
Main Photo from Getty.