The only first round match to be played in Stuttgart on Monday wiill be the all-German clash between Mona Barthel and Carina Witthoeft. Barthel originally received a wildcard into the main draw but after gaining direct entry, her wildcard was given to Witthoeft. After a so-so year, Barthel produced two very encouraging displays in Charleston. Her second round win over Sloane Stephens was particularly impressive; although she was unable to serve out the match at the first time of asking, she didn’t slip into a characteristic passive mode, and was very proactive in winning the second set tiebreak and the match. Unfortunately illness ended her run as she lost nine straight games to Lauren Davis having been *4-0 up in the first set.
The 20-year-old, Witthoeft, has had some good results this year including a third round showing at the Australian Open (defeating Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round) and a quarter-final appearance in Kuala Lumpur. Witthoeft also won a $25K ITF title in Altenkirchen and is now up to #73 in the rankings having ended the 2014 season outside of the world’s top 100.
Barthel has done well in Stuttgart before having reached the quarter-finals in 2012 with top 20 wins over Ana Ivanovic and Marion Bartoli. She was also one point away from upsetting Jelena Jankovic in the first round last year. In their only previous match, Barthel defeated Witthoeft in Stuttgart qualifying in 2010, 6-4 7-5. Witthoeft has played the qualifying tournament for the last five years, but failed to reach the main draw. Witthoeft is one to watch going forward, but I expect Barthel to come through this match with her greater experience and suitability to the surface going in her favour.
Prediction: Barthel d. Witthoeft in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)