Simona Halep is out, Angelique Kerber is in, and the Zhengzhou Open is about to get underway. Joining Kerber are four top 10 players: Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, and Aryna Sabalenka.
WTA Zhengzhou Open Day 1 Prediction
Petra Martic vs Jasmine Paolini
Petra Martic has never played Jasmine Paolini, but that might be because while Martic is currently ranked 117 in the world, Martic lost in the US Open round of 16 to an in-form Serena Williams. Paolini, by contrast, did not make it out of qualifying. Martic won her first title earlier this year. She also reached a career high ranking. Though her triumph in Istanbul was in April, she’s still playing some of the best tennis of her career. The question isn’t whether or not she’ll defeat Paolini, it’s by how much. The other question: how far can she go at the Zhengzhou Open?
Martic in 2.
Kristina Mladenovic vs Duan Ying-Ying
Kiki Mladenovic, now ranked 54 in the world, is a two-time grand slam quarterfinalist in singles and the three time champion in doubles. Her poor form in singles is illustrated by the fact that she has an even 1-1 head to head with her opponent, Duan Ying-Ying, who has never been ranked higher than 60 in the world and is currently outside the top 300. Mladenovic is a better player than Ying-Ying by any metric, but if she fails to engage with her match, any player can expose weaknesses in her game and exploit them.
Mladenovic in 3.
Sofia Kenin vs Chloe Paquet
Chloe Paquet lost in the first round of qualifying at the US Open. Sofia Kenin fought through to the third round where she was thoroughly outclassed by a resurgent Madison Keys. Kenin and Paquet have not played before and Paquet has shown no indication that she is much of a threat to her higher seeded opponent. Kenin is a top 20 player with a solid game plan against most opponents. She will be able to execute without much difficulty.
Kenin in 2.
Angelique Kerber vs Alison Riske
Angelique Kerber and Alison Riske have met four times on the WTA tour. Kerber owns their head to head with a comfortable 3-1. The only seeds of doubt for the fifth seed in Zhengzhou will be from her 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Riske on grass in Mallorca, Spain, the only match the two have contested in the last five years. Riske is not as consistent or adept from the baseline as Kerber, but Kerber’s natural inclination towards passivity in rallies can be her own undoing. Kerber will have to take occasional chances. If she doesn’t she is vulnerable and will be partially relying on her opponent to make mistakes.
Kerber in 3.
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