It was a shocker of a day in Stuttgart with the last three matches all ended by retirement. Even with today’s end, i’m feeling pretty meh towards Stuttgart this year. I don’t know why, it may just be me! As always, i’m rooting for the weekend and am looking forward to watching the end of the tournament. Thoughts on the quarter-finals below…
Simona Halep (1) vs. CoCo Vandeweghe
I was surprised to find that Halep and Vandeweghe have played just once before on the tour. Halep won, 6-1 6-1 in the quarter-finals of Madrid last year. Vandeweghe has won back-to-back matches on clay for the first time since that tournament. It’s also the first time she’s done it in 2018. While she clearly states that clay is not her favoured surface, Stuttgart seems a pretty good fit for her game and wins over Stephens are Siegemund were impressive. Halep was bothered by a leg injury in a come-from-behind victory 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over Magdalena Rybarikova. I would guess it was a not serious injury as she seemed to loosen up during that match.
This feels like a dangerous match-up for Halep and Stuttgart has never been a particularly happy hunting ground. While still clay, I think the conditions generally favours big hitters. Halep may have been secretly relieved not to see Siegemund on the other side of the net as the German player has ended her run in Stuttgart for the last two seasons.
All in all, i’m on the fence. You can never really be sure what level Vandeweghe is going to bring to the table.
Elina Svitolina (3) vs. Caroline Garcia (6)
In their last two matches combined, Svitolina and Garcia have spent over six hours on court! Garcia prevailed in a pair of thrillers at the end of 2017 in Beijing (6-7 7-5 7-6) and Singapore (6-7 6-3 7-5). To reach the quarter-finals of Stuttgart, Svitolina advanced via retirement against Marketa Vondrousova midway through a third set, while Garcia has scored two three set wins over Maria Sharapova and Marta Kostyuk.
I didn’t get to see their matches on Thursday so this is a shot in the dark! I feel the court should help Garcia as generally the more aggressive player. I also think that the two hard fought wins were huge for her considering she was on a disappointing run of form since Melbourne. I would guess that these types of matches are much more rewarding than an easy two setter and should be good for the confidence. I’m going for Garcia in three.
Jelena Ostapenko (4) vs. Karolina Pliskova (5)
In another match-up last seen at the WTA Finals, Ostapenko and Pliskova will play on clay for the first time. On Thursday, Ostapenko raced past Zarina Diyas in just 63 minutes, while Pliskova had to work to fend off a spirited effort from the 21-year-old, Veronika Kudermetova, 7-6(4) 6-3. Pliskova has lost her last four quarter-final matches all in straight sets. While Pliskova did well to stay calm and not panic in a tight opener against Kudermetova, she got the run around the 21-year-old and has generally been uninspiring this year despite being mostly consistent. I’m going for Ostapenko in straights. My confidence in the pick generally makes me wary.
Anett Kontaveit vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Both Kontaveit and Pavlyuchenkova are into their first quarter-finals of 2018. Kontaveit has won back-to-back matches for the first time since Melbourne, while Pavs has achieved this feat for the first time in 2018! Both were playing well when their opponents retired on Thursday. This is a complete coin toss for me. My only feeling is that it will go the distance.