WTA Roland Garros, 4th Round Preview Day 9: Stephens v Halep, Kuznetsova v Safarova and more

Day 8 was another fascinating day at Roland Garros.  Play opened with a surprisingly comprehensive victory for Eugenie Bouchard over Angelique Kerber.  You can read my recap of that match HERE.  Bouchard will play Carla Suarez Navarro in the first of the womens quarter-final.  The second of the quarter-finals from the top half will feature Maria Sharapova and Serena slayer, Garbine Muguruza.  Sharapova had her toughest match of the tournament, coming from a set and a break down to beat Sam Stosur in an intense match on Suzanne Lenglen. This felt like the defining match of Maria’s 2014 RG.  I’ll be stunned if she doesn’t go all the way now..

TFF DreamTeam Update: BK leads, Wild Briar Village is in 2nd place and Alice rounds out the top three.

Poll Results: 60% correctly went for Bouchard over Kerber, 71% correctly went for Sharapova over Stosur, 32% correctly went for Gulbis over Federer and 73% correctly went for Djokovic.

1. Sloane Stephens v Simona Halep


Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep had routine victories on Saturday to set up a mouthwatering fourth round clash.  Sloane continues her record of peaking at the Slams and flopping pretty much everywhere else.  Stephens had no problems in dismissing Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3 6-4.  As the highest seed left in the draw, Halep has cruised through her first three rounds.  She defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-3 6-0 to reach the last 16 of the French Open for the first time in her career.  Previously, Simona had never gone past the second round at Roland Garros.

Sloane leads the head-to-head by two wins to one; Stephens won their last match at the Australian Open in 2013, 6-1 6-1.  Halep won their only encounter on the clay, which came in 2012 in Barcelona.  Halep won that match, 6-4 6-4.  Of course, so much has changed in their careers since their last match. There was quite a debate at the end of 2013 initiated by Matt Cronin over who out of Sloane or Simona had improved the most during 2013.  This will be a good indicator of who has come the furthest.  Clay is generally regarded as Halep’s best surface, but Sloane is pretty nifty too.  It will be a fascinating match on the biggest stage of them all.

Prediction: Halep d. Stephens in 3 sets

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova‘s victory over Ana Ivanovic made my Saturday.  I have written in great lengths about how Safarova has come so close to stringing it all together, but had yet to have that really big win this year.  On Suzanne Lenglen court, Safarova produced a magnificent display as she dictated with her lethal forehand to stun Ivanovic, 6-3 6-3.  Head-to-heads are so important in tennis and that proved to be the case once more.  Safarova has won her last five matches against Ivanovic.  I was delighted for Lucie 🙂

Safarova now plays Svetlana Kuznetsova, who survived a thriller with Petra Kvitova, 6-7(3) 6-1 9-7 on Philippe Chatrier court.  Kvitova twice served for the match, but also saved a duo of match points before the epic encounter went into extra time.  Kuznetsova defended remarkably well and earnt a first win over Petra in four clashes.  Kuznetsova and Safarova are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head.  They have never played on clay before.  Safarova won their last match in Doha in 2012, 7-6(6) 6-3.  This is another match that I am really struggling to call.  I’m not sure why but I am leaning slightly to Lucie.  Could this be heart over head? Perhaps.

Prediction: Safarova d. Kuznetsova in 2 tight sets

3. Jelena Jankovic v Sara Errani

In a repeat of the Rome semi-final, two players who have had some of their greatest successes at Roland Garros, Jelena Jankovic and Sara Errani will meet in the last 16 of Roland Garros.  This is not a good match-up for JJ, who appears to struggle to generate pace against Errani.  Both players had crushing wins on Saturday; Jankovic navigated a potentially tricky clash with Sorana Cirstea, 6-1 6-2, meanwhile Errani thrashed Julia Glushko, 6-0 6-1.  It’s another match where I am torn slightly with my loyalty.  I want JJ to win.  However Sara is obviously not troubled by the leg injury she picked up in Rome and love, love, loves the court at Roland Garros.  Prove me wrong, Jelena.

Prediction: Errani d. Jankovic in 3 sets

4. Andrea Petkovic v Kiki Bertens

It’s easy to forget all of Andrea Petkovic‘s injury woes over the last couple of years.  Finally though, she is playing injury free and pushing on into the world’s top 30.  I wasn’t that impressed with her performance at the end of her 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory over Kristina Mladenovic.  She was very passive in the final few games and benefitted from Mladenovic’s huge unforced error count.  Petko plays Kiki Bertens in the fourth round.  She defeated the in-form Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-2 6-1 in style.  Bertens won’t be an easy match for Petkovic, particularly on clay.  The German player has much more experience at this level and will be the marginal favourite to reach another quarter-final at Roland Garros.

Prediction: Petkovic d. Bertens in 3 sets

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