Carla Suárez Navarro needs a good week in Linz to keep her slim hopes of qualifying for a first WTA Finals in singles alive… two matches down and so far so good! Suárez Navarro has advanced to the quarter-finals where she play with the dangerous, Denisa Allertova.
Suárez Navarro has yet to drop a set in Linz with straight set wins over Mona Barthel (6-4 6-2) and Sara Sorribes Tormo (6-4 6-1). The win over her fellow compatriot wasn’t the cleanest of performances despite the one-sided scoreline. Suárez Navarro had looked in cruise control up 5-1 in the opener as she was successfully able to drag her Sorribes Tormo out wide on multiple occasions and in particular, exploit her poor movement on the backhand side. Suárez Navarro was also dominant on return – I was fascinated by Sorribes Tormo’s serve, which is funky to say the least. She seems to struggle to get the wrist snap… a problem I know only too well!
Suárez Navarro began to play more aggressively but with that, she started to miss a lot of shots up at the net. Suárez Navarro twice failed to serve out the set and with holding serve for the first time, Sorribes Tormo was growing in confidence. The 20-year-old had a game point to level up at 5-5 but seemed to have an attack of nerves as she netted early in a rally and then hit back-to-back double faults. It was a slice of luck for Suárez Navarro who rather stumbled over the finish line in the first set. Experience and quality shone through in the second set as Suárez Navarro didn’t waver, serving out the match at the first opportunity.
Allertova knocked out the number seven seed, Daria Kasatkina in the first round, 6-2 6-3 and backed it up with another impressive straight sets win over Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 6-4. Allertova battled back from a 0-2 deficit in both sets against an erratic and tactically shaky, Kontaveit. The Estonian player had her coach on the court at one of the changeovers in the first set. He was particularly harsh, laying into her for not sticking to their pre-match gameplan and telling her that “what you are doing right now is not clever”. He may have had a point, but it wasn’t exactly encouraging words. In a tight second set, Allertova won the big points to reach the quarter-finals of Linz for the second straight year.
Head-to-head record: Suárez Navarro and Allertova have split their two previous encounters which both took place at Slams; Allertova won in the first round of the US Open last year, 6-1 7-6(5) but Suárez Navarro rebounded from a set down to win at Wimbledon earlier this year, 3-6 6-2 6-1.
Interesting stat: Allertova’s a big time player – she beat Angelique Kerber earlier this year at Indian Wells and has won four of her last five matches against top 20 opposition. Her only loss to a top 20 player in that period was.. you guessed it, Carla!
Final thoughts: I’ve always felt Allertova’s game is Kvitova-esque (so that does it for me!), but she’s had a tough year that has been plagued with injuries. Allertova’s currently outside the top 100 but she *seems* to be healthy again.
Suárez Navarro’s base level will be higher but a big serving and big hitting, Allertova, has shown that she can hit through this slow court. Based on her first two matches, Allertova seems to be building some momentum. Chuck in the Singapore equation and how Suárez Navarro has handled these pressure situations in the past and Allertova could be one to watch come the weekend…