1. Timea Bacsinszky v Barbora Strycova (USO, R1)
For the first time this year, Timea Bacsinszky is struggling. The Swiss player has had a tremendous year up till now, moving up 34 places in the rankings since the end of 2014. However, she is currently on a four match losing streak extending back to Wimbledon. Each loss over the last couple of weeks has been more comprehensive. In Toronto, Bacsinszky lost to Alison Riske in a marathon three setter having had match points in the second set. Since then, she has lost straight setters to Madison Keys and Caroline Garcia.
Strycova’s form has also dipped after a really encouraging start to the year. She has been scoring wins here and there but hasn’t reached a semi-final on tour since Antwerp in February. She looked a little disinterested in a straight sets loss to Lesia Tsurenko in the second round of New Haven. Strycova leads the head-to-head with Bacsinszky, 2-0 although as is the case with many of Timea’s head-to-heads, this was before her recent good form. A win could turn around Bacsinszky’s fortunes but Strycova has enough game to make this a tricky opener.
Prediction: Bacsinszky d. Strycova in 2 sets
2. Lucie Safarova v Lesia Tsurenko (US, R1)
For the second time in five days, Lucie Safarova and Lesia Tsurenko will play each other. The pair met in the semi-finals of New Haven where Safarova just about got over the finish line, eventually coming through in straight sets, 6-2 7-6(4). In the final of New Haven, Petra prevailed over Lucie, 6-7(6) 6-2 6-2. The first set was extremely even and after missing two set points in the tiebreak, Lucie took it on her third. It was a decent set from Lucie who wasn’t afraid to take big cuts at the ball when the opportunity presented itself. To her credit, Kvitova came storming back and was superb through the last two sets. She was untouchable on serve and put frequent pressure on Lucie’s serve, which started to visibly tire towards the end of the match.
Tsurenko’s recent form on hard courts has been superb, stretching all the way back to Indian Wells where she won a total of six matches, coming through qualifying and reaching the quarter-finals. She then won the tournament in Istanbul last month, her first WTA title and followed that up with another five wins in Toronto where she made the quarter-finals as a qualifier. Tsurenko had a slice of luck in New Haven, getting in as a lucky loser after a discombobulating 6-0 6-1 loss to Yulia Putintseva in qualifying… I wonder if she knew that she would get a lucky loser spot. I’ve watched a few of Tsurenko’s matches and i’ve been impressed with her game.
Safarova has beaten Tsurenko in their two previous matches. I hope Lucie doesn’t feel any pressure based on the recent win and instead, uses it as a springboard. I’d imagine there could be some more nerves in this one. I’d take Lucie in three…
Prediction: Safarova d. Tsurenko in 3 sets