Despite withdrawals from home stars Petra Kvitova and Karolina Muchova, the WTA Livesport Prague Open still sports an impressive field of players, including defending champion Barbora Krejcikova or top seed Anett Kontaveit. Singles action begins, though most eyes will be drawn to the doubles as three-time Slam champion and Olympic Silver Medalist Andrea Sestini Hlavackova says goodbye to her career, playing her final tournament alongside former long-term partner Lucie Hradecka. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will win?
WTA Prague Day 1 Predictions
Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Nao Hibino
Head-to-head: Hibino 1-0 Buzarnescu
Buzarnescu had a run to the final in Prague back in 2018 when the tournament was still played on clay. The 34-year-old has had more success on that surface compared to hard courts over her career and has played just one match on hard this season. Hibino beat Rebecca Sramkova in qualifying but enters the main draw as a lucky loser after a loss to Oksana Selekhmeteva. After dropping out of the Top 250 for the first time since 2013, the 27-year-old will look to recapture form on hard for the rest of the season and keep herself in position for Slam qualifying next season. Hibino was the winner when the two faced off in Hiroshima three years ago and I see the Japanese player as a slight favorite again.
Prediction: Hibino in 3
Marie Bouzkova vs Sinja Kraus
Head-to-head: first meeting
Despite never advancing past the first round in Prague in four previous appearances, Bouzkova should be seen as a potential title contender. The eighth seed had a very impressive showing at Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals and taking a set off eventual finalist Ons Jabeur. Lucky loser Kraus should be a relatively easy first opponent, the 20-year-old Austrian defeating Tereza Smitkova before losing to Anastasia Zakharova 2-6 2-6. Kraus is having a strong season, a 45-19 record and two ITF 25 titles to her name, but Bouzkova should be a class above here.
Prediction: Bouzkova in 2
Wang Qiang vs Rebecca Peterson
Head-to-head: first meeting
After a down season in 2021, Wang has had some strong moments this season. The 30-year-old beat Coco Gauff at the Australian Open en route to a third round, made the semifinals of Guadalajara, and pulled off a Wimbledon upset over Belinda Bencic. This week, Wang looked strong in qualifying, defeating Kaylah McPhee and Valeria Savinykh in straight sets. Peterson has had a mostly mediocre season with a win over Aryna Sabalenka in Adelaide being the highlight of her year so far. The Swede played on clay last week so considering the surface change and Wang’s form from qualifying, I see the Chinese player as a favorite here.
Prediction: Wang in 2
Elise Mertens vs Magda Linette
Head-to-head: Mertens 3-0 Linette
Mertens, a Prague finalist in 2020 when the tournament first switched to hard courts, has had a mixed bag of a season. The Belgian has largely struggled for wins on the tour but reached the fourth round at all three Slams in 2022 so far. Linette’s season has been a bit middling, a Charleston quarterfinal and French Open upset over Ons Jabeur the highlights of her season so far. The head-to-head is key is in predicting this match-up, Mertens not dropping a single set in all three of their previous meetings. They played in three different conditions, indoor hard, outdoor hard in Tokyo, and Rome clay, and I expect the outcome on Prague hard courts to be the same.
Prediction: Mertens in 2
Main Photo from Getty.