WTA Charleston Open Day 4 Predictions including Taylor Townsend vs Belinda Bencic

Day three at the Charleston Open was not to be missed. Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins was pushed hard by a gritty performance from Spain’s Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, but advanced in straight sets. 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko was nearly eliminated by American Shelby Rogers, but rallied from 1-5 down in the decider to win 4-6 6-3 7-6. Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, meanwhile, was denied by Maria Sakkari, with the Greek needing only 15 games to move on.

Kaia Kanepi managed to eliminate the sixth seed Elise Mertens, 0-6 6-0 7-5, in one of the stranger matches and bigger upsets of the Charleston Open so far. But former world #1 Caroline Wozniacki came through unscathed against Laura Siegemund, producing some fine tennis in what was one of her best performances of recent months. Fourth seed Anastasija Sevastova, however, fell to unheralded American Jessica Pegula, who is enjoying the best season of her life after a career that had been blighted by injuries.

But on day four, who will be going home and who will be moving on?

Taylor Townsend vs Belinda Bencic

Head-to-head: first meeting

Taylor Townsend is surely riding a wave of confidence after scoring her first top 20 win over Julia Goerges, having lost her previous 13 matches against such elite opposition. In two very tight sets, Townsend used aggressive play, as well as lefty spin that the great Rafael Nadal would have been proud of, to deny Goerges 6-4 7-6, with the German failing to win a single point in the second set tiebreak. The Atlanta-born Townsend, then, will most certainly feel good when she takes to the court against Belinda Bencic.

But the in-form and well-rested Swiss will be difficult to beat. Indeed, Bencic has been one of the most consistent players so far in 2019, minus a disappointing showing in Miami that can probably be attributed to exhaustion. She has looked formidable so far in South Carolina, dismissing Destanee Aiava 6-3 6-0 before brushing aside the challenge of Allie Kiick 6-0 6-3. Bencic’s first serve has been particularly impressive, with the ninth seed winning 85% of the points behind it against Kiick. Paired with her penetrating groundstrokes, it makes for a punishing combination. Expect the Swiss to take over and not look back.

Prediction: Bencic in two
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Monica Puig vs Aryna Sabalenka

Head-to-head: first meeting

Monica Puig has never quite rediscovered the form that took her to a stunning gold medal triumph at the 2016 Olympics. Instead, for more than a year now, the Puerto Rican has found herself in a slump, racking up far too many disappointing losses. But though she has not put that inconsistency entirely behind her, Puig is starting to show her quality once more. Could a breakthrough be in the offing? The Charleston Open might just represent the perfect opportunity.

For one thing, her third-round opponent Aryna Sabalenka is in quite the singles slump herself. Although she is riding high in doubles, having completed the Sunshine Double with Elise Mertens, she has struggled mightily without the Belgian’s positive energy to feed off. Those struggles seem to be due to a lack of mental toughness, something she will need to develop if she wishes to resume her climb up the rankings in singles. But while she continues to dwell on her errors and engage in harsh self-criticism on the court, she will continue to lose more often than not. Puig certainly has the game, and crucially, the mindset to take advantage.

Prediction: Puig in two
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Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Caroline Wozniacki

Head-to-head: Buzarnescu 0-2 Wozniacki

It looks like Mihaela Buzarnescu has found her game after scoring back-to-back wins in Charleston, despite having arrived with 14 defeats in her last 15 outings. She certainly looks more confident on court, delivering one of her more accomplished performances to defeat American Lauren Davis 6-3 6-2 in the second round. But the defensively minded Buzarnescu may need to employ a tactical change up against Caroline Wozniacki in the third round, as she is unlikely to beat one of the sport’s best counter-punchers at her own game.

Wozniacki’s great strengths, her movement and defense, are definitely back. The Dane turned in one of her best performances of the year against German Laura Siegemund to win 6-2 6-2. If the fifth seed can continue to play with such focus and move with such speed and grace, she should have enough to extend her head-to-head lead over Buzarnescu to 3-0. However, she will need to continue to serve well, with Wozniacki having excelled from the line so far this week. Do that and Wozniacki should be able to continue her return to form with a fairly straightforward win.

Prediction: Wozniacki in two
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Ajla Tomljanovic vs Sloane Stephens

Head-to-head: Tomljanovic 0-3 Stephens

Ajla Tomljanovic isn’t a name discussed often in the tennis world. But the 25-year-old Australian could be well on her way to changing that. Her impressive upset win over Sabalenka in the second round at the Miami Open showed just how good she can be. And she’ll surely be hoping to claim another statement win in Charleston. However, there are still holes in her game, most significantly her inconsistent serve. But Tomljanovic won her first two matches in straight sets and her game looks to be firing on all cylinders.

Stephens, in contrast, looks short of confidence. She was able to find a way to win her opening match against Sara Sorribes Tormo. But it took the American two tiebreaks to get through in what was one of the most gruelling contests of the year so far. This will be an interesting match which could really go either way. Stephens’ may well have to taken some confidence from her second-round win, but will that be enough to see her past the Croatian-born Tomljanovic? With the Australian in this sort of form, the likely answer seems to be no.

Prediction: Tomljanovic in two
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