Third up on Stadium 3 at not before 3pm local time in Madrid, Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Garcia will meet in the second round in what is my favourite WTA match-up of the day on Tuesday. Karolina Pliskova is enjoying a superb year and kicked off her clay court season with a victory in Prague. The first couple of matches were ropey, but her ability to prevail when not playing at her best has proven to be one of her greatest attributes. In the final, she came from a set down to beat Lucie Hradecka, 4-6 7-5 6-3 to win her fourth WTA title. Pliskova had previously gone 0-2 in finals in 2015, losing against top ten opposition on both occasions.
Pliskova had no days off between Prague and Madrid, but that didn’t seem to bother her. Pliskova beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa on Sunday, 6-1 6-2 in just 62 minutes. Big servers have tended to do well in Madrid and that certainly appeared to be the case based on Pliskova’s first round match as she lost just six points on her first serve. Another big hitter, Caroline Garcia had an excellent run in Madrid last year reaching the quarter-finals with wins over Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani before losing a tight three setter to Agnieszka Radwanska.
Garcia started 2015 in solid form, upsetting Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to reaching the third round at the Australian Open and securing appearances in back-to-back finals in Acapulco and Monterrey, only to be thwarted by Timea Bacsinszky. Her season since then has been characterised by two wins over Ana Ivanovic and a handful of shaky losses. Garcia’s game is rather majestic to watch when she’s in the groove…WHEN! Garcia plays with an ultra-aggressive and high risk game plan, which means it can get messy.
In their only previous match, Pliskova beat Garcia in Cincy in 2013, 3-6 6-3 6-3. Garcia had some good results on clay last year and although I think this surface suits her game better, Pliskova’s far superior mental toughness is likely to win the day if this match gets tight. Pliskova may have had a taxing week in Prague where she played three sets in four of her five matches but she has shown on many occasions, notably the trio of tournaments that she played in Hong Kong, Seoul and Wuhan last year, that she can play back-to-back weeks and more importantly, keep on winning.
Prediction: Pliskova d. Garcia in 2 tight sets