On Day 3 of the WTA Finals, the Red Group will play their second round of the group stage. After opening round losses, Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic will be looking for their first win. Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka will be battling to remain undefeated. Here’s a look at the Red Group’s second round and predictions for who’ll secure the victory.
Ashleigh Barty vs Naomi Osaka
Head to head: Barty 2-2 Osaka
As the Red Group makes their second appearance, Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka will square off. Both Barty and Osaka chalked up wins in their first matches, eager to continue that trend.
Barty rallied back from a set down to claim her maiden WTA Final win. Perhaps it was the twenty unforced errors which led Ashleigh Barty to drop the first set. However, the Aussie superstar cleaned up the errant balls and upped the first serve percentage in the second set. With Bencic capitalizing on Barty’s slice, the World #1 changed up her pace, played with more variety. In slightly under two hours, the French Open champion secured the win.
As I’s their fifth meeting, Osaka and Barty will be quite familiar with each other’s game. In fact, the Japanese superstar recently leveled the head to head with a straight sets win at the China Open. The midseason slump Osaka experienced is clearly behind her, now in form and considered one of the top contenders to claim the Year End title.
I expect this to be a three set battle, full of momentum shifts and stellar shot-making. I give the slight edge to Osaka who has the momentum and the recent win over Barty.
Prediction: Osaka in 3
Petra Kvitova vs Belinda Bencic
Head to head: Kvitova 4-1 Bencic
The second round of the group stage pits Belinda Bencic against Petra Kvitova. There will be no easy match for the Swiss at her maiden WTA Final. While Bencic has had a remarkable 2019, the Moscow Open champion will find it difficult to win a match in Shenzhen. Sure, Bencic will make it difficult for her opponents, but may find herself outplayed in the end.
Bencic will look to use Kvitova’s power. Rather than create power on her own, Bencic will use the lefty’s pace and redirect. Bencic’s ability to take the ball early will certainly make Kvitova uncomfortable. Also, Bencic is an aggressive returner, capable of breaking the Czech superstar’s serve. Bencic claimed the Dubai title eliminating Kvitova in the final.
Clearly, Kvitova commands the head to head, leading 4-1. A straight sets win over Bencic at the China Open will boost the Czech’s confidence. Surely, Kvitova will have some pain points with the Bencic game. And, Bencic will be motivated to win her first WTA Final match. Yet, Kvitova has too much experience and too many weapons. Given her good form and recent win over Bencic, I see the Czech winning in straight sets.
Prediction: Kvitova in 2