Conditions: Cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, top of 24 degrees.
I must say, I was pretty disappointed with how Wang played the other day against Rosatello. Although Wang did come from a set down (played horribly early on), she threw away a commanding lead in the third set to somehow find herself at 4-4 with Rosatello having 2 game points to edge ahead. Luckily for Wang, Rosatello’s nerves got the better of her, and it felt as though the Italian lost it as opposed to Wang winning. Where Wang was particularly vulnerable at times during the match involved the backhand side when the ball was dropping below the height of the net. She just couldn’t seem to find her rhythm, and it showed looking at the score. The saving grace for Wang in that match was being able to get 66% of first serves into play (won 70% of points on first serve). What was worrying for me though was the performance of Wang on the second serve of Rosatello. Wang was going for *far* too much, trying to hit clean winners off the soft second serve instead of setting up the point to her advantage. For a player of her ability to only win 52% of points on Rosatello’s serve was pretty disappointing.
I had really high hopes the Wang would really take her game to the next level this year, however it just hasn’t eventuated to date. I don’t think the clay courts are where we are going to see this next step being taken. Since the start of 2017, Wang is 4-6 on clay courts, and 16-18 for her career. Something will need to change significantly for her to get the job done today.
Everything seems like it has started to click for Danielle Collins this year. In June last year, she was playing in a Bethany Beach ITF level tournament on clay, where she absolutely dominated. I don’t think she will be back at Bethany Beach this year. Having risen from around 200 in the world to currently sit at a career-high 44, she is full of confidence after a fantastic few months. After winning the title in Newport Beach, Collins reached the 4th round in Indian Wells), and then qualified for the Miami Open (made the Semi Final – lost to Ostapenko).
Collins hasn’t played a *lot* of tennis on clay over the last 12 months, however she does hold an 11-2 record, with wins over Larsson, Riske, Lepchenko, Giorgi, Cirstea and Hesse, and losses the Sasnovich and Kasatkina. Her game style seems to be holding up on clay, and Collins won’t afford Wang the time on her shots as much as Rosatello did in the first round.
I am not too fussed that it took Collins 3 sets to knock off Hesse in the first round – her style of play should mean that Collins is used to the ball coming onto the racquet relatively quickly in terms of on the clay, so she shouldn’t feel rushed on her groundstrokes today by any means.
Unless something changes dramatically from Wang from Sunday night, I simply cannot see her beating Collins here when you consider the form of both players. The form and head to head match up of styles for these two has me leaning Collins. For Wang to win, she would need to play far better than she did vs Rosatello, and to be honest I just cannot see it happening. Collins to win.
Conditions: Sunny with a top of 26 degrees Celsius
Arguably one of the best big game players on tour, Sloane Stephens is a player you want to side with on the big stage. It is easy to get swept up in the hardcourt form of Sloane Stephens over the last 9 months: US Open win, Miami Open win, and some pretty decent performances in between. There is one little stat that I want to highlight here about Stephens performance level at different tiers of the WTA.
Over the last 12 months, here is Stephens’ split across Grand Slam, Premier and other WTA tournaments is as follows (clay record in brackets):
- Grand Slam 7-2 (0-0)
- Premier 11-4 (4-2)
- Fed Cup 2-2 (2-0)
- Other Tournaments 10-9 (0-1)
When you consider the tournament in Nuremberg falls into the “Other Tournaments”, you may be able to see where I am going with this one….
I will admit, it is really hard to positively talk up Putintseva’s form, as it has been pretty poor at all levels. There is one positive that I would like to highlight though. Putintseva is never going to hit a stack of winners. She will grind and grind, but ultimately she will struggle against similar players on clay, and we have now seen that against Sorribes Tormo and Hsieh in recent weeks. What we have also seen however is Putintseva get a win over Sorana Cirstea, who has the ability to play a somewhat similar style for Sloane Stephens, especially on clay. She also pushed Vondrousova to the absolute brink in Lugano in a match that spanned 2 days thanks to rain. If there is form against any type of player, it is the bigger hitters who can be a bit hit-and-miss.
This one is a bit left of centre, but I think this is the perfect chance to oppose Sloane Stephens. When you look above, it is pretty clear that the bigger the tournament, the better Sloane plays. No offence to Nuremberg, but this is not the focus of Sloane Stephens. Her form in similar level tournaments has not been fantastic lately.
I am happy to oppose Sloane here, and it is purely off her game style being one that Putintseva could possibly exploit, especially if Sloane isn’t fully committed to this match. It’s a bit of an ambitious call I know, but I am happy to take Sloane Stephens on at the odds here.
My tip? Putintseva to win.
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