We have reached the business end of the inaugural WTA 250 event in the Slovenian coastal town of Portoroz. Will the crowd be thrilled by a Slovenian lifting the trophy or will of the top seeds spoil the party?
WTA Portoroz Semifinal Predictions
(2) Yulia Putintseva vs Jasmine Paolini
H2H: First meeting.
The draw has opened by nicely for Yulia Putintseva, the world number 44 has made the most of a favourable draw and will now fancy her chances to go all the way. The Kazakh is the highest seed and the most accomplished player remaining in the draw. Putintseva’s two previous WTA titles came on her preferred clay court surface, but the 26-year-old has shown in recent years that she is no slouch on the hard courts. Putintseva has cruised into her second semi-final of the season without dropping a single set with wins over Jacqueline Cristian, Katie Boulter and Lucia Bronzetti. Putintseva hasn’t dropped more than 4 games in a set this week, conceding an average of just under 3 games per set.
Jasmine Paolini will be competing in her first tour level semi-final. The world number 87 got through the first few rounds courtesy of a retirement from Dayana Yastremska as she led 7-6 4-1 before beating Anna Kalinskaya 6-3 6-2. Paolini cleared the quarterfinal stage at this level for the first time in her fourth attempt thanks to one of the biggest wins of her career, a 6-4 4-6 6-1 win over the fourth seeded Sorana Cirstea. The Italian will now need to knock off her third seeded opponent of the tournament if she is to reach the biggest final of her career.
Putintseva and Paolini have a lot of similarities to their games. Both prefer playing on clay, both are short, quick and rely on their consistency, versatility and defensive skills to unsettle their opponents. Putintseva generally does most things a little better than Paolini and is certainly the more experienced of the pair and the more proven at this level, especially on a hard court. Expect a heap of extended rallies in this one, with the Kazakh ultimately prevailing.
Prediction: Putintseva in 3
(3) Alison Riske vs Kaja Juvan
H2H: First meeting.
Kaja Juvan is the last hometown hopeful remaining in the draw. The 20-year-old has progressed to the final 4 without dropping a set, claiming a couple of notable victories along the way. Juvan started the week strongly by defeating the top seeded Petra Martic 6-3 6-4 before beating Aleksandra Krunic 7-6 6-4. Juvan secured her spot in the final 4 with a 7-6 6-3 win over compatriot and fifth seed Tamara Zidansek 7-6 6-3.
Alison Riske has had a miserable couple of seasons but is finally showing some signs of a resurgence as she aims to reach her first final since winning her second career title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2019. Riske moved past local wild card Pia Lovric 7-5 6-3 in the opening round before beating Viktoria Kuzmova 3-6 6-3 6-3. The American secured her spot in the semifinals with her most dominant victory of the week, a 6-4 6-1 triumph against Kristina Mladenovic.
This is a difficult match to predict, Riske is the more experienced of the pair, but Juvan has the greater upside and has generally looked like the more impressive player this week. I’ll side with the Slovenian. Riske has admittedly benefited from a comfortable draw this week, it’s still not entirely clear if she has turned the corner on her poor form. Juvan has beaten some quality opposition this week where she powered through the critical moments.
Prediction: Juvan in 3
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