Maria Sharapova [WC] vs Kristina Mladenovic H2H: Sharapova leads 1-0
Maria Sharapovais two wins away from winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tournament in Stuttgart for the fourth time. A lot has been made about whether the five-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 deserved a wild-card this week, but Sharapova has let her tennis do the talking this week as actions do speak louder than word after all. The returning Sharapova is now one win away from having a ranking high enough to enter the qualifying rounds of the French Open.
Kristina Mladenovic‘s rise to Top 20 in the world is no real surprise. The Frenchwoman had been touted as one of France’s elite players for quite some time and now she is starting to fulfil that potential, beginning to deliver on the singles court as well as the doubles court, where she is a three-time Grand Slam champion. I think giving Mladenovic the responsiblity to lead the French Fed Cup team has helped her take responsibility for her tennis and the results have improved in correlation to the valuable Fed Cup experience she has gained.
Mladenovic has the power game to cause problems to the three-time champion Sharapova, but the big question is whether Mladenovic’s serve holds up under pressure against one of the game’s fiercest competitors. One thing that is for sure is that we will see many drop shots from the Frenchwoman, who will try to get Sharapova on the move as much as possible. The five-time slam champion is much better at moving across the baseline than she is at moving forward towards the net.
I think Sharapova’s relentless, ferocious ball-striking will win over Mladenovic’s toolbox of tricks and claim the second win in their H2H.
Prediction: Sharapova in two sets
Simona Halep  vs Laura Siegemund [WC] H2H: Siegemund leads 1-0
Twelve months ago, Laura Siegemund and Simona Halep met for the first time in a competitive match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. On that day, Siegemund dropped just three games to the Romanian and will be looking to produce a similar performance in their second meeting.
Siegemund has just won two matches against Top 10 opposition after beating Karolina Pliskova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Halep has looked very comfortable on the red clay since that upset loss to Siegemund last season.
The key for victory for Siegemund is to prevent Halep from really getting comfortable with her side-to-side movement around the baseline. The Romanian plays much better tennis when she has a particular rhythm from the back of the court and she is also dangerous with her aggressive passing shots from deep behind the baseline. So Siegemund’s tactic has to be to give Halep a mixture of slices and drop shots to keep her opponent guessing.
If I was in Halep’s coaching corner I would advise her to stay away from Siegemund’s backhand. That is by far her more secure shot and the more impactful shot in comparison to the weaker forehand, which can leak unforced errors.
There is something special about the way Siegemund plays in these indoor conditions in Stuttgart and I think that special relationship with this tournament will continue with a straight sets win over Halep.
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