The WTA Stuttgart final will feature the top two seeds, Maria Sharapova and Li Na, who will square off for the 14th time on the WTA tour. For the third time this week, Sharapova was forced into a deciding set having won the opening set of her match. Each match has been progressively tougher, but she just had enough to get past a gritty effort from Angelique Kerber, 6-3 2-6 7-5. Sharapova started the match in fine form, but went on walkabouts for the middle portion of the match committing a ton of errors. Kerber played some great stuff at times, but like Ana Ivanovic yesterday, folded in the crucial stages of the match despite pegging Sharapova back from 5-3 to 5-5 in the deciding set. I don’t give Kerber much hope in this match-up in the future because she played pretty well today and Sharapova was actually terrible at times.
Li only needed two sets, but it didn’t tell the whole story as she overcame the terrific run of American qualifier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4 6-3. It was a really fun match with both players hitting a lot of lines and all played in good spirits. I have to admit I am not a big fan of this LI-Sharapova match-up as it always seem to throw up a one-sided scoreline or a complete error-fest. Sharapova leads the head-to-head by 8 wins to 5; she won all three of their 2012 encounters including a hilarious three set comeback win in the Rome final last year. Li won their most recent encounter at the Australian Open in a rip-roaring semi-final win, 6-2 6-2.
I am finding this a difficult one to call because Li has clearly been the better player this week but Sharapova could easily flick a switch to the next level in the final tomorrow… however I have decided Li’s form this week has just been too solid and if she keep her head in check, this title is hers.
Prediction – Li to beat Sharapova in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)