There is some stiff competition for the Mallorca Open title this year. Thursday, some of the best contenders will take the court, including the inaugural Mallorca Open champion Caroline Garcia, one of 2019’s hottest players Belinda Bencic, and the young American star Amanda Anisimova. And, one of pre-tournament favorites will be going home as the #1 seed Angelique Kerber takes on the multi grass titleholder Maria Sharapova.
Here’s a look at the final Round of 16 matches – along with predictions. Who will make it to the quarterfinals on the island of Mallorca?
Paula Badosa Gibert vs Caroline Garcia
Head to head: No history
Caroline Garcia’s shaky first set in her opening round needn’t be cause for concern. The Frenchwoman was able to right the ship and bounced Victoria Azarenka through two well-played sets. Garcia is certainly in form, as demonstrated by her Nottingham Open title. The #6 seed is also the inaugural Mallorca Open champion. A lot of positive ticks in the Garcia column.
Paula Badosa Gibert claimed a hard fought victory over American Alison Riske. It took three very tight sets for the Spaniard to see her way through. But, stats such as seven double faults and a 54% first serve won’t be enough to get past the Frenchwoman.
Prediction: Garcia in 2
Belinda Bencic vs Shelby Rogers
Head to head: Bencic 1-1 Rogers
Shelby Rogers dropped only four games en route to her opening round win over China’s Zhang Shuai. It was an impressive win in what has been a dismal year for the American. Rogers hasn’t had back-to-back wins at a tournament since the 2018 US Open. And, this probably won’t be the tournament that changes that. Belinda Bencic has been one of the most consistent players in 2019. The Swiss’ only deficiency at this point is the second serve. That troublesome aspect is negated by her feisty and competitive nature. It seems Bencic can steal momentum before her opponents can make the most of it.
Prediction: Bencic in 2
Alize Cornet vs Amanda Anisimova
Head to head: No history
Perhaps Amanda Anisimova is still finding her footing on grass. After all, the Mallorca Open is Anisimova’s first WTA grass tournament. I don’t know what else would explain her opening round performance. Seven double faults is far from the norm for the teenage powerhouse. And rarely have we seen a player ranked outside the top 100 bring Anisimova to the brink of defeat. The American was able to come through and hopefully she’ll better understand the surface when she meets Alize Cornet in the second round.
France’s Alize Cornet dropped just a single game in her definitive win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. Cornet dominated what should have been a competitive match. Looks like Cornet arrived in Mallorca ready to play. And, the Frenchwoman will need to be in form against 17-year-old Anisimova. Cornet has an uncanny ability to draw errors from her opponents. I expect she will try to do the same with Anisimova. If it’s the version of Anisimova who took the court in Round 1, she will have a very successful strategy. But, I think Anisimova is a quick learner who’s working through a new surface.
Prediction: Anisimova in 3
Angelique Kerber vs Maria Sharapova
Head to head: Kerber 4-4 Sharapova
Angelique Kerber was able to find a way to win her opening match. Ysaline Bonaventure was able to push the top seed to a decider by claiming the second set. The German’s error laden first sets and off-kilter serve nearly jeopardized this victory. Against a skilled, albeit rusty, opponent, Kerber cannot afford careless mistakes. Kerber won’t see the quarterfinal if she doesn’t get that first serve in.
Maria Sharapova was formidable after a five-month hiatus. It took the first set to shake off the rust and playing the type of tennis needed to win. And, the second set 6-0 reminded us what Sharapova is capable of. But, the Russian will need to limit her double faults and make more of her first serves, or Kerber will run away with this match.
Neither player is at the high level we expect of Slam champions. Sharapova is trying to find her form after injury, while Kerber can’t find the consistency or serve which leads to titles. This will be an interesting match, and the winner will be the one who corrects their errant serve.
Prediction: Kerber in 3
Embed from Getty Images