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Currently ranked third in the world, there’s no better opportunity for Pliskova to pick up her first title since January 2020 in Brisbane. While she’s undoubtedly one of the leading players in the game at the moment, her ability to get over the line must be questioned. Indeed, she’s lost each of her last four finals, most notably at Wimbledon this year and if she were to make it all the way to that stage here, that certainly will be at the front of her mind. While she’s won 19 of her last 24 matches, including 13 of 17 this hard-court season, she’s often struggled against the better players in the game, winning just seven of 17 matches against top 25 opponents this year and that needs to be a big consideration when debating her selection.
6th seed Maria Sakkari is the biggest threat to Pliskova in this draw, and she comes into this in fine fettle. She was a losing semi finalist to eventual winner Raducanu in New York, though she followed that up with her first hard-court final since August 2018 when she lost to Anett Kontaveit, beating top seed Iga Swiatek in straights in the semis.
Kontaveit is also in this quarter and comes into this off the back of two titles already this hard-court season, beating all of Sakkari, Petra Kvitova and Olympic Champion Belinda Bencic en route to victory in Ostrava, so she is certainly worth getting behind if the price is long enough.
Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova headlines this quarter and is many people’s tip to go all the way here, and it’s fair to see why. She’s won 27 of her last 31 completed matches going back to May, taking three titles in that time. Her defeats came against eventual champions Ash Barty (twice) and Bencic at Wimbledon, Cincinnati, and the Olympics, respectively. The other came in New York against Aryna Sabalenka who, along with Barty, has withdrawn from this competition, leaving Bencic the only player here to have beaten the Czech on hard court since March.
Another Franch Open Champion Garbine Mugaruza is the fifth seed and the most likely to topple Krejcikova in this draw. The Spaniard beat the Czech in the final in Dubai back in March, though Krejcikova has taken the two meetings since then, with all three meetings featuring a tie-break so there’s not much to separate them. Mugaruza has won nine of her last 11 outings and comes into this off the back of a title in Chicago, though the two defeats both came against Krejcikova, while none of those victories came against top-10 players.
Teen sensation Coco Gauff will also appear in this draw, those this is far from her best surface as she’s yet to reach a final on outdoor-hard, while she’s lost each of her last six on this surface to top-25 players, while 10th seed Angelique Kerber is another who would be hoping this was on a different surface as she excels on grass. Since reaching the final here in the previous renewal in 2019, she’s failed to reach the final in any of her last 19 hard court outings, reaching just one semi in the last two years.
This looks to be the most open quarter of the draw this year. Fourth seed Elina Svitolina isn’t exactly in poor form by any stretch of the imagination, winning 10 of her last 12 completed matches, a run which has included a title in Chicago. That was her only final in her last 13 hard-court events though. What’s more, with such a strong field here, especially in this quarter, it’s difficult to see her going all the way considering she’s won just six of her last 17 against top-25 players on this surface.
US Open champion Raducanu will have all eyes on her as she looks to prove that her New York triumph wasn’t just a flash in the pan. With this being her Premier event debut, she’s still technically yet to lose at the highest level, with her Wimbledon exit coming via retirement, and that will no doubt provide a lot of confidence for the young brit as she looks the one to beat here.
Petra Kvitova has had a poor hard-court season by her standards, failing to reach a final in any of her six such events, so she leaves too much to be considered, while 11th seed Simona Halep has failed to reach a hard-court final that she hasn’t been the top seed in since October 2017, let alone outside the top 10. Jessica Pegula has proven that she can mix it with the best, though she’s not reached a final since January 2020 and this may be a step too far for her considering she’s lost her last three against top-25 players.
Second seed Swiatek has had more recent success than Pliskova, taking the crown in Rome as recently as May this year, though that shouldn’t have too much bearing on this considering it was played on clay. The Pole has lifted just one WTA 1000 hard court crown with that coming in Adelaide in February, though since that win she’s gone just W8-L6 on either hard or indoor hard, with that worsening to just W4-L5 up against top-50 players so it’s difficult to see her going all the way here.
Elena Rybakina will be looking for revenge after losing to Swiatek just a couple of weeks ago, and may get the chance to do so in the fourth round. The Kazakhstani reached the semis last week in Chicago and will be confident she can at least make the fourth round again here.
US Open finalist Leyla Fernandez is the dark horse in this quarter, though faces a really tough run with Alize Cornet a possible second round match before facing the winner of Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. While she’ll know she can get the better of most players on tour, to do so consistently across a tournament is a different matter and with an easier run she would be worth a flutter.
Olympic champion Bencic has played a lot of tennis recently as she looks to qualify for the WTA finals, though pushing that much may just make her run out of steam. Since winning in Tokyo she’s been eliminated at the quarters in each of her five events since, with wins over Swiatek and Pegula the only players worthy of note in that time.
Maria Sakkari E/W
Barbora Krejcikova E/W
Iga Swiatek E/W
0.5 pts Anett Kontaveit E/W
0.5 pts Garbine Mugaruza E/W
0.5 pts Emma Raducanu E/W
0.5pts Elena Rybakina E/W
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