WTA Bank of the West Classic, Stanford 2017: Main Draw Preview

 

The 2017 Bank of the West Classic has attracted a star-studded line-up in Stanford with the Wimbledon champion, Garbiñe Muguruza joined by high-profile wild cards in Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova. There’s also a crop of talented teens with Ana Konjuh, Naomi Osaka and CiCi Bellis all present in what is a very intriguing line-up. Note that the top four seeds all have byes into the second round. Let’s take a look at the draw…

Quarter 1

Garbiñe Muguruza headlines the Stanford draw in her first appearance since winning her second Slam at Wimbledon. The Spaniard has showcased the full hamper of results in 2017 and her last match before SW19 was an insipid, 1-6 0-6 loss to Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne. However, Muguruza got her game together at Wimbledon, playing clinical and decisive tennis, and with a growing assuredness in the crux moments. Muguruza’s first match of the tournament will be against Misaki Doi or Kayla Day. While Muguruza hasn’t played Doi, she has taken on Day before and survived an exciting three setter in the third round of Indian Wells earlier this year, fending off a valiant effort from the 17-year-old to win, 3-6 7-5 6-2.

Muguruza is seeded to meet the number five seed, Ana Konjuh in the quarter-finals. The Croatian player has had a mixed year although did manage to improve on grass, as to be expected with her pedigree on this surface, with eight match wins and a first ever second week showing at Wimbledon. If she were to pass a qualifier in the first round, she would play either another qualifier or Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the second round. Vikhlyantseva defeated Konjuh in the first week of this year’s grass court season in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 6-3 7-5.

Quarter 2

The highest seed in the second quarter is the number three seed, Madison Keys and her first match of the tournament will be against either Naomi Osaka or a qualifier. Keys and Osaka have played each other twice in the last year, most notably a rollercoaster of a third round match at the US Open where Keys recovered from a 1-5 third set deficit to seal a 7-5 4-6 7-6(3) victory.

Keys returned to action at Wimbledon following minor wrist surgery after the French Open. The American has barely had any chance to build momentum so far this year; now seemingly pain-free, perhaps this is her chance to finish the year strongly and set herself up for 2018. Momentum has also been a key word for Osaka who has only once managed to win three matches at the same tournament in 2017, which was to qualify for the main draw in Stuttgart. Osaka made great strides on the grass though, improving with every match she played.

Maria Sharapova returns to action in Stanford for the fourth tournament of her comeback. The Russian player hasn’t competed since retiring hurt in Rome with a thigh injury. Sharapova has played a couple of World TeamTennis matches and opens against Jennifer Brady in Stanford on Monday night. All in all, it’s a very fair draw for Sharapova with the number eight seed, Lesia Tsurenko, or Lara Arruabarrena potential opponents in the second round.

Quarter 3

Playing for the first ever time in Stanford, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the highest seed in the third quarter of the draw. The Russian player has enjoyed a fine year up till now and is currently ranked at #13 in the Race. There’s a case of what might have been for Pavs as she was unable to take advantage of favourable draws at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, particularly the former, and bowed out in the second round and first round respectively. Pavlyuchenkova will play Alison Riske or Magda Linette in the second round of Stanford. Riske leads the head-to-head with Linette, 2-0 and has also got the better of Pavs more often that not, winning three of their four previous clashes. Riske used to be predominantly a grass courter but has become much more versatile over the past year and cemented herself as a a solid top 50 player.

Former Stanford finalist, CoCo Vandeweghe takes on Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round. The American was bothered by an ankle injury during the grass court season, yet was still able to display fine form to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon where she was eventually outfoxed by Magdalena Rybarikova. The fast hard courts in Stanford have suited her game here in the past. The winner of that match will play Nicole Gibbs or Claire Liu in the second round. Liu won the girls junior title at Wimbledon and will be playing her first ever WTA main draw match. Gibbs, who graduated from Stanford University and will know these courts well, has slipped outside of the world’s top 100, admittedly dealing with some injuries along the way. Skipping the grass court season, Gibbs racked up 12 wins on the ITF circuit in the US including winning a title at the $25K tournament in Baton Rouge.

Quarter 4

Petra Kvitova bookends the draw with a late wild card into Stanford. The Czech player was forced to withdraw from Bastad last week with an abdominal injury, the same one that forced her out of Eastbourne. This is a positive sign to see Kvitova enter in Stanford – it still hasn’t become normal to me to see Petra in draws again! Kvitova will open her campaign in Stanford against either Francesca Schiavone or Kateryna Bondarenko, who will play the late night match on Tuesday.

Kvitova is seeded to meet CiCi Bellis in the quarter-finals with the American nabbing the final seeding. Bellis opens against Alizé Cornet in the most enticing of the first round matches. The pair have never played before and with the contrast in experience, it’s a clear marker of how impressive Bellis has been in her first full year on the WTA tour that she is the higher ranked of the pair, albeit by one place! Bellis vs. Cornet will take centre stage on Tuesday night in Stanford. The winner will play Kristie Ahn or a qualifier in the second round.

Records in Stanford

I don’t think I have ever seen so much blue on one of my record tables! Of the eight seeds, only two competed in Stanford last year with only one of the 2016 semi-finalists (Alison Riske) in this year’s draw. An Olympic year often has a big impact on the Stanford entry list. CoCo Vandeweghe returns to Stanford for the seventh time and is a former finalist, along with Maria Sharapova. There are no former champions in the draw. Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lesia Tsurenko will all be competing in Stanford for the first times in their career.

W-L records include results from qualifying (Data from WTA and Tennis Abstract)

WWW Stanford Poll

Stanford R1 Polls

Stanford Media

 

🙌🏼#goldengatebridge #sanfrancisco

A post shared by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 🎾 (@nastia_pav) on

 

Final thoughts

There’s no clear favourite for me in this draw, as is the case with many WTA draws! Muguruza was fantastic at Wimbledon but I don’t hold a great deal of confidence in her being to replicate those results week in, week out. I’m most interested to see her tactics going forward and whether she can maintain the aggressive and proactive stance she took at SW19. Kvitova’s draw looks peachy, yet i’d still be a little concerned about how she is dealing with the abdominal injury. I actually quite like Sharapova here with a decent start draw-wise to potentially build some momentum. I’m also keen on Bellis who I think could be set for a stunning summer.

Final Prediction: Sharapova d. Bellis

Who do you think will win Stanford? Have your say in the tournament poll and as always, comments are appreciated!

Photos in this post by Omar Boraby Photography and mootennis.com

5 thoughts on “WTA Bank of the West Classic, Stanford 2017: Main Draw Preview

  1. Alize Cornet when she was 11/yo starred in a French TV movie(L’Instit) about a young tennis star. The movie is on YouTube.

    Like

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