Hello, Stuttgart! So i’m quite excited about the week ahead and this has been further validated by the draw for the 2015 Porsche Grand Prix. There are some superb first round matches, as was to be expected with the quality of the entry list. In case you missed it, I blogged about some of the most memorable matches in Stuttgart over the last five years HERE. For live Stuttgart coverage this week, Women’s Tennis Blog and The Tennis Island are ones to follow. Jimmie48, Women’s Tennis Blog resident photographer, will be in Stuttgart as will @Renestance, one of my favourite follows on Twitter. For now, let’s take a look at this stonking draw…
Maria Sharapova returns to Stuttgart as the defending champion and unbeaten in all three previous appearances at this tournament. There has been some speculation as to whether Sharapova would be fit for the tournament after she pulled out of Fed Cup this weekend with a foot injury, but it appears she will be playing. After a bye in the first round, she could meet Angelique Kerber in the second round. After a ropey couple of months, Kerber fought her way through the Charleston draw to claim her fourth WTA title, beating Madison Keys in a superb final. Sharapova and Kerber have had some great matches and their last encounter was a magnificent fourth round match at Wimbledon, which was my favourite WTA match of 2014. Kerber played her best match of the entire year to sneak out the win. Pre-draw, Sharapova v Kerber was the one of the potential matches that I thought about so i’m glad we *could* get to see it. The number six seed, Ekaterina Makarova is projected to meet Sharapova in the quarters.
Petra Kvitova returns to WTA tour action in Stuttgart after taking an extended break from the tour. Petra revealed more about her decision to skip Indian Wells and Miami in her blog with BBC Sport HERE. Petra made her comeback in Fed Cup where she enjoyed straight set wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia. Her first match of the week in Stuttgart will be against Madison Brengle or a qualifier. As we move onto the clay, this is Kuznetsova’s most profitable time of the year and she will be one to watch at every clay court tournament. Last year’s finalist, Ana Ivanovic is also in this section and has drawn a stinker as she will play Caroline Garcia in the first round. The pair have met twice this year already with Garcia winning in Monterrey and Indian Wells.. There has been conflicting news about Ivanovic’s fitness; there were reports that said she was fully fit for the first time since Australia, but then I also saw a comment on Twitter implying her participation is under question… so who knows!
When the world number 10 goes up against the world number 11 in the FIRST ROUND of a tournament, you know it’s a cracker! In a rematch of the Miami semi-final, Carla Suarez Navarro and Andrea Petkovic will meet first up. Both have been in superb form of late although do have their concerns; Carla has been nursing a wrist injury, while Petkovic has had an exhausting couple of weeks, reaching back-to-back semi-finals in Miami and Charleston and playing Fed Cup. The winner of that match will play either Julia Goerges or Belinda Bencic in the second round. As a former champion of the Porsche Grand Prix, Goerges is always one to watch on this surface. She thrashed Bencic earlier in the year at the Australian Open and although I think it will be much closer this time round, i’d probably still give the edge to Goerges purely based on this tournament. Caroline Wozniacki is the highest seed in the third quarter and could meet Lucie Safarova in the second round… Lucie has beaten Caroline at this tournament before and had a wild Fed Cup win over Caroline Garcia, saving five match points.
The final quarter features Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska. Halep’s first match of the week will be against Garbine Muguruza or Barbora Strycova (note that it is no longer BZS!) in what should be an intriguing first rounder between two completely different styles of play. It is worth noting that Muguruza has beaten Halep in their two previous matches. I think Halep is going to have a storming clay court season, but i’m not entirely sure that this surface suits her game so I wouldn’t be surprised if she falls early. Radwanska opens against Sara Errani, which should be a fun one. The winner of that will meet Sabine Lisicki or Zarina Diyas. In front of a home crowd and at a tournament where she has picked up some notable wins in the past, i’d back Sabine to make the quarters.
1st Round Predictions:
Ana Ivanovic d. Caroline Garcia in 2 tight sets
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Andrea Petkovic in 2 tight sets
Julia Goerges d. Belinda Bencic in 3 sets
Sabine Lisicki d. Zarina Diyas in 2 sets
*First round previews for the remaining matches to follow*
Final Prediction: Sharapova d. Muguruza