Main draw action at the inaugural edition of the WTA Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan commences on Monday. A relatively weak field has ascended on the Kazakhstani capital. Only four of the world’s top 75 players will be in action this week. Home favorite Yulia Putintseva is the top seed, followed by Alison Van Uytvanck, Kristina Mladenovic, and Greet Minnen. Expect a couple of lesser-known players to gain some valuable wins. Let’s take a closer look at some of matches on Day 1. We also predict the rest of the day’s matches in a separate article.
WTA Nur-Sultan Day 1 Predictions
Lesia Tsurenko vs Vitalia Diatchenko
H2H: First meeting
Lesia Tsurenko eased through the qualifying draw with a pair of straight set victories, a 6-0 6-3 win over Rutuja Bhosale, followed by a 7-5 6-1 win against Urszula Radwanska. The former World #23 is having one of her worst seasons on Tour, having won just one main draw match at the tour level this year. This looks like a great opportunity for the Ukrainian to snag her second. Diatchenko is very beatable, especially on a slow surface such as the one in Nur-Sultan this week. Tsurenko has had a few matches to get used to the conditions and should be too solid in this match-up. Diatchenko is unlikely to be able to hit through Tsurenko consistently enough in these conditions.
Prediction: Tsurenko in 2
Anastasia Gasanova vs Yuliya Hatouka
H2H: Hatouka 2-0
Gasanova and Hatouka are a pair on the rise. Gasanova has risen over 100 ranking spots this season, whilst Hatouka has risen over 250 ranking spots since the start of last year. Hatouka marginally squeezed through the qualifying draw, a 6-3 6-1 win over local wild card Gozal Ainitdinova was easy enough, a 6-4 3-6 7-6 win over the top seeded Lucia Bronzetti was anything but easy. Hatouka twice defeated Gasanova on the ITF circuit in 2018 and 2019, dropping a combined five games in those matches. I’ll give the slight edge to the Belarusian qualifier here. The head-to-head record is factor even if they were a while ago and at a lower level, plus Hatouka has the added benefit of being used to the conditions, especially after her marathon qualifying win against Bronzetti. Furthermore, Gasanova’s form has deteriorated of late.
Prediction: Hatouka in 3
Varvara Gracheva vs Kristyna Pliskova
H2H: Pliskova 1-0.
Kristyna Pliskova is having a miserable season, rarely able to string together consecutive victories. The Czech will be in action for the first time since the US Open, where she had one of her better weeks of the season. Pliskova successfully cleared the qualifying stage in New York before claiming a valuable main draw victory over Danka Kovinic, eventually succumbing to Petra Kvitova in the second round. Gracheva has had some promising results of late, a semifinal showing in Chicago was followed be her best result at a Grand Slam where she reached the third round, upsetting the much higher fancied Paula Badosa in the process.
Pliskova won the only previous meeting between the pair, 7-6 6-4 on clay in Belgrade earlier this year. I expect Gracheva to pull through this one. Pliskova is incredibly unreliable and very vulnerable if her serve isn’t firing. The slow, dead conditions in Nur-Sultan are likely to be problematic for Pliskova. Gracheva should have the edge from the back of the court. Gracheva should be able to get into enough rallies on the Pliskova serve to get the job done.
Prediction: Gracheva in 3
Main Photo from Getty.