Two of the in-form players on the WTA tour this year, Carla Suarez Navarro and Karolina Pliskova will meet for the fourth time in 2015 on Friday in the first of the quarter-finals from the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. Both players were pushed to three sets in their first matches of the week; Suarez Navarro won the last four games of her match against Timea Babos, 6-2 3-6 6-4, while Pliskova came from a set down to beat the Brit, Johanna Konta, 3-6 6-3 6-4. In the third round, Suarez Navarro overcame the always dangerous, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3 6-4. CSN had a stumble in the second set, losing her double break, but refocused to win in straights. Considering grass is not her favoured surface, this was an excellent performance from the Spaniard. Carla looked comfortable, served well and maintained her slightly more aggressive game that she has implemented this year.
After finishing her match against Konta on Thursday, Pliskova returned to court 1 to win her third round match against Zarina Diyas, 6-2 6-2. There was a significant improvement from Pliskova between the two matches and it will be very interesting to see whether she can become more comfortable on this surface. Her serve has been good, but not great so far this week. Against Diyas, she had 55% first serves in, six aces and 75% of first serve points won.
Suarez Navarro leads the head-to-head against Pliskova, 3-1. The Czech player won their first encounter of 2015, 4-6 6-4 6-0, but the Spaniard has won their two most recent matches. It is worth noting though that in both those wins (Antwerp, 6-2 6-2 and Doha, 7-6 6-4), Pliskova looked gassed following her heavy schedule. I’m really on the fence with this one. In my head, I think the surface favours Karolina, but I was really impressed with how Carla played against Sveta today. Furthermore, i’ve lost count of the number of times i’ve unfairly written Carla off this year. Although Pliskova hasn’t really got going yet and I have doubts about her game on the grass, I also have this feeling that it could all click into place for her in the quarters. I’m sorry Carla, no doubt you will prove me wrong again! I’ll be interested to hear opinions and see which way the poll swings on this match…
Prediction: Pliskova d. Suarez Navarro in 3 sets