Stuttgart is my favourite WTA event on the tour excluding my biased love for Eastbourne. The draw may be missing Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Li Na, but it remains absolutely stacked. You will be hard pushed to find a better line-up of first round matches in any WTA draw this year. Can you tell I am excited? Note that the top four seeds all have byes into the second round and main draw action is likely to kick off on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at the draw…
EDIT – This draw preview has been edited from the original posted on Saturday to take account of the draw reshuffles on Monday with Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova both withdrawing.
FIRST QUARTER: A.Radwanska (1) v M.Sharapova (6)
It’s still odd to see Maria Sharapova languishing as the number six seed in a WTA draw. As defending champion, this tournament continues the mammoth task she has in defending her 2013 points and hanging on to her place in the world’s top ten. She has been dealt a tough hand with Lucie Safarova in the first round. The pair played in the third round of Miami, which saw Sharapova need multiple match points to win and Lucie get a hug (see HERE). Their last two matches have gone the distance including a second round match in Stuttgart last year. If Maria survives that, she could play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. Pavs beat Sharapova in Paris and despite a wobble in form since them, she is always a dangerous player on clay.
It’s rare that I start talking about the draw without first mentioning the number one seed, but Agnieszka Radwanska will certainly not be classed as the favourite for this event. Her first match of the week will be against a qualifier or Roberta Vinci. She is then projected to meet Sharapova in the quarter-finals. It will be a tough draw for Aga and she’s never been shy to say that clay isn’t her favourite surface.
1st Round Predictions: Beck d. Vinci in 3 sets and Sharapova d. Safarova in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: A.Radwanska v Sharapova
SECOND QUARTER: A.Kerber (4) v S.Errani (8)
Angelique Kerber will be coming all the way from Brisbane, Australia due to Fed Cup duties this weekend. However with a bye, it’s possible she may not be required to play her first match until Thursday. This will be against Carla Suarez Navarro or Ekaterina Makarova. Both are players she has lost too in the last year, but equally, players she beat in their last encounters. Kerber and Makarova have played each other six times in the last three years and their head-to-head is tight, tied at 4-4.
Sara Errani will be relieved that the clay season has arrived after a shaky first few months of 2014. Stuttgart, which is indoor clay, is pretty quick and is unlikely to be an ideal surface for her. In her three appearances at this event, Errani has never won a match in Stuttgart. Errani’s first match is against Klara Koukalova (formerly Zakopalova), who has won eight more singles matches than her in 2014.
1st Round Predictions: Makarova d. Suarez Navarro in 2 tight sets and Errani d. Koukalova in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Kerber v Kanepi
THIRD QUARTER: J.Jankovic (5) v P.Kvitova (4)
The highlight of the first round was originally an all-Serbian affair between Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. However Dominika Cibulkova‘s withdrawal saw Ivanovic bumped up to the number nine seed. As much as I am certain that JJ v Ana would have been a mess, I think it would have been a fun mess. The draw reshuffle is a bit of a bummer. Jankovic will now play lucky loser, Mona Barthel in the first round. Barthel lost in a tight final qualifying round match to Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-4 5-7 7-6(1). The winner of this first rounder plays Indian Wells champion, Flavia Pennetta or Charleston champion, Andrea Petkovic in the second round… Brutal draw.
Petra Kvitova is the top four seed in this section and she’s always done reasonably well on this surface. She may not slide, but on the quick indoor clay, she can pack a punch and made the semi-finals in 2012. Her first match will be against Alisa Kleybanova or Ajla Tomljanovic. I am surprised that Kleybanova has used her protected ranking to get into this draw being that it’s brutal. Have I mentioned it’s a brutal draw?
1st Round Predictions: Jankovic d. Barthel in 2 very tight sets, Pennetta d. Petkovic in 2 sets (purely based on Australian jetlag otherwise i’d go for Petko) and Tomljanovic d. Kleybanova in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Jankovic v Kvitova
FOURTH QUARTER: A.Ivanovic (9) v S.Halep (2)
Sabine Lisicki was originally paired up with Dominika Cibulkova in the first round, which was a great match-up for her because I thought Cibulkova would be pretty knackered. As Domi pulled out, Sabine now gets Ana Ivanovic in what should be a very interesting encounter. Surprisingly, it’s a first ever career match-up and the home crowd cheering on Sabine will give this match an edge. Sorry Sabine fans, but I think Ivanovic has the edge in this match!
Former Stuttgart champion, Julia Goerges, plays Sorana Cirstea in the first round and will struggle, like Petkovic, in having to play on Tuesday or Wednesday having been in Australia on Fed Cup duty. Simona Halep bookends the draw as the number two seed. Like Sharapova’s position so far down the seed pecking order, Halep being the number two seed in a Premier draw is still pretty staggering to me. Her first match of the week will be against Svetlana Kuznetsova or Gioia Barbieri. I’m not sure why, but I don’t fancy Halep to do that well this week. I think she will do great through this clay court season, but not until we go outdoors.
1st Round Predictions: Ivanovic d. Lisicki in 3 sets, Cirstea d. Goerges in 3 sets and Kuznetsova d. Barbieri in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Ivanovic v Halep
Moo’s Final Prediction: Sharapova d. Kvitova
This tournament is the most difficult WTA one to predict all year. Most of the players in the draw have a shot so i’ll be surprised if I get anything right! Sharapova’s draw is tough, but this is a good tournament for her based on all her previous successes. Kvitova is risky since she is so wildly unpredictable but as I went through the draw, she came up against players I thought she would beat.
This week is going to be fun. I’m going to watch as much as I can although as ever, work will obviously limit that! I’m glad that there is a night session and as always, will be praying the best matches get put on LATE.
I’m excited about this draw if you haven’t already noticed! Please vote in the poll and i’d love to hear your thoughts about Stuttgart. I’m anticipating lots of different opinions on the draw 🙂