This will be my last post for a few days as i’m busy this weekend… my brother is getting married! I’m going to be playing serious catch-up with Madrid as the main draw comes out on Friday with play starting on Saturday. I hate the overlap between tournaments and that will happen with the finals in Prague and Marrakech to be played on Saturday. I’ll endeavour to have something out on Sunday night but bear with me. Anyway, here’s a few thoughts about the semis for Friday…
1. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova v Elina Svitolina
Schmiedlova knocked out the number two seed, Timea Bacsinszky, in the quarter-finals of Marrakech coming from 4-2 down in the third set to beat the Swiss player, 6-3 3-6 7-5. It snapped an eight match winning streak for Bacsinszky in three set matches, which had stretched all the way back to the Australian Open. It was not a pretty match and I was surprised how up and down Timea was. Her tactics wildly fluctuated during the match. She began with positive intent early on, but then got bogged down in mixing up the play with slices, drop shots and loopy balls. Schmiedlova was pretty stable and won the first set, 6-3. Bacsinszky could at least see that wasn’t working as she changed up the tactics in the second set and started hitting more regulation backhands but kept the drop shots, which worked well. There were a couple of drop shot winners off the weak Schmiedlova second set that worked a treat.
Schmiedlova lost her momentum in the second set and at the start of the third set. She fought back well from a break down in the decider. Bacsinszky never seemed sure of what she was trying to do out there and continually went for moonballs. It didn’t really seem to be troubling Schmiedlova a great deal although it wasn’t until the end of the match when the Slovak player stepped up her intensity and aggression. Schmiedlova played a couple of fine points at the end as Bacsinszky was forced to play defence from the back of the court and out of camera view.
Svitolina is up next for Schmiedlova after she survived a three setter with Karin Knapp. Her results on clay haven’t been anything to write home about, but she’s had a reasonably consistent week and year so far. I’m on the fence with this one. Form and surface would probably side with Schmiedlova, but Svitolina seems a more solid pick in my head. Hmmmm….
Prediction: Schmiedlova d. Svitolina in 3 sets
2. Kristina Mladenovic v Timea Babos
The top half of the Marrakech draw has been broken up by doubles partners, Mladenovic and Babos who both have scored upset wins along the way. Babos snapped the 14 match winning streak of Teliana Pereira in the second round before defeating Flavia Pennetta in an impressive quarter-final victory. Mladenovic dropped a set in her opening match against Marina Erakovic, but has followed it up with straight set wins over the number one seed, Garbine Muguruza (7-6 7-6) and Lara Arrubarrena (6-4 6-1). Mladenovic has always been puzzling to me because she has the potential to be a really decent singles player. Her level seems to fluctate wildly, which is why i’m always a little wary. She leads the head-to-head against Babos 2-0 and i’d fancy her to make it three.
Prediction: Mladenovic d. Babos in 2 tight sets
1. Karolina Pliskova v Yanina Wickmayer
Pliskova has been taken to three sets in all of her matches this week. This time, she lost the middle set before coming through, 6-2 5-7 6-1 against Denisa Allertova. Equally, Wickmayer has been pushed to three sets in all of her matches this week as well. A mixture of rough draws and injuries has seen Wickmayer do very little on tour since reaching the last 16 in Melbourne. I’m pleased to see her reach the semi-finals here because she is so much better than her current ranking of 92. Still, this feels likes Pliskova’s title to lose right now.
Prediction: Pliskova d. Wickmayer in 2 tight sets
2. Lucie Hradecka v Katerina Siniakova
I didn’t have either of these players winning today! Siniakova continued her breeze through the draw with a surprisingly straightforward victory over Barbora Strycova, 6-4 6-2. This is the first time that Siniakova has won three matches at the same tournament in 2015. Hradecka’s form continues to impress as she just about hung on to beat Klara Koukalova in three sets. This will be Hradecka’s seventh match of the week, but she’s still going strong. She has successfully qualified for six tournaments this week, which is a big indicator of how her consistency has improved this year. I’m completely on the fence with this one. I’d confidently go for Hradecka but all those matches are a concern against Siniakova, who should be reasonably fresh. I’ll stick with Lucie…
Prediction: Hradecka d. Siniakova in 3 sets