All the remaining first round matches at the Mutua Open in Madrid will be played on Sunday in what will be one of the best days of WTA action all year. In a match-up that features two of my favourite personalities on the WTA tour, the number 10 seed, Timea Bacsinszky will play Andrea Petkovic, fifth up on Pista 6 at not before 5pm local time.
Bacsinszky began the year in rotten form, clearly hindered by the knee injury that ended her 2015 season, and won just one out of her first six matches on tour. However, fully fit again, her fortunes suddenly reversed in Doha. The Swiss player had a superb March, reaching the fourth round of Indian Wells and the semi-finals of Miami, securing back-to-back top five wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep at the latter.
While she was overcome with emotion in a disappointing weekend in Fed Cup action, Bacsinszky rebounded in Rabat with wins over Anna Blinkova (6-4 6-2), Kateryna Kozlova (6-3 2-6 6-3), Johanna Larsson (6-4 6-1), Timea Babos (6-4 7-5) and Marina Erakovic (6-2 6-1) to win her fourth WTA title. All these players you would expect Bacsinszky to overcome but in her first tournament on clay this year, it’s still an excellent achievement and sets her up well for Madrid and Rome, and of course Roland Garros where she is defending semi-final points.
Petkovic ended a five match losing streak in Fed Cup action two weekends ago, producing a typically gutsy display to defeat Monica Niculescu, 0-6 7-6(1) 6-3, saving two match points in the process. In Stuttgart, she went 1-1 in singles action, winning a comfortable opener against Kristina Mladenovic, her first WTA win since Doha, but then falling to Agnieszka Radwanska. Petkovic started brightly by taking the first set, 6-1; however, she never recovered after a nasty looking fall, eventually losing in three sets, 6-1 1-6 2-6. She has been pictured practising in Madrid for a few days now and should be well acclimatised to the conditions.
Head-to-head record: In their only previous match-up, Bacsinszky defeated Petkovic, 6-3 3-6 7-5 in qualifying for the Gold Coast tournament, all the way back in 2008… i’ve never even heard of that tournament as it was well before I got hooked on tennis!
Final thoughts: This has all the makings of a competitive and closely fought clash. While Bacsinszky is in good form and has lots of matches on clay under her belt, fatigue and more importantly, adjusting to a completely different court and conditions (the altitude in Madrid is a factor) could neutralise this. Her variety will likely trouble Petkovic but if this goes the distance then the German player will likely have more energy. I’m happy either way as I think both are awesome :-). It’s tough though on Timea having to play with no rest days after winning Rabat!