WTA Houston Challenger Thursday Predictions – Including Irina Falconi vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

It seems the weather at the WTA Houston Challenger won’t cooperate. Another day of cold weather and now a little rain mixed in. After several rain delays all of the second round matches finished – certainly with some surprising results. The #1 seed, Danielle Collins, fell to Anhelina Kalinina in a topsy turvy, threeset battle. The ninth seed, Whitney Osuigwe, was defeated in a three set bout with Dalma Galfi. Twelfth seed Allie Kiick couldn’t muster a single game in her 0-6 0-6 loss to an in-form Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Who will succeed in the Round of 16 to claim a spot in the quarterfinals on Friday? Here’s a look at for intriguing matches and predictions for who will continue their run in Houston.

WTA Houston Challenger Day Round of 16 Predictions

Anhelina Kalinina vs CoCo Vandeweghe

Head to head: First meeting

Perhaps the only one who isn’t surprised by Anhelina Kalinina bouncing top seed Danielle Collins is Kalinina. No matter how tough the match got, nor how much Collins lifted her level of play, Kalinia played with conviction and belief. It seemed she knew she was going to win from the start. After reaching the finals in Dallas and Las Vegas, the Ukranian is obviously in form and playing her competitive best.

CoCo Vandeweghe dropped just five games in her opener against Rice University’s Linda Huang. The second round saw Vandeweghe bounce compatriot and #15 seed Sachia Vickery in straight sets. Perhaps this is the best Vandeweghe has looked since she returned from injury at the Silicon Valley Open. When the strong serve and blistering forehand are hitting their mark, Vandeweghe is a true force. Yet, Vandeweghe is delivering 51% first serve in play. She’ll need to lift that level against a red hot Kalinina.

I expect there’ll be quite a battle between Kalinina and Vandeweghe. Statistically, these two are quite evenly matched. Vandeweghe should take the first set. But, it will be nearly impossible to deny Kalinina who’s playing at such a high level.
Prediction: Kalinina in 3

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Caty McNally vs Dalma Galfi

Head to head: First meeting

Dalma Galfi dug deep to defeat the ninth seed Whitney Osuigwe. After splitting sets, the Hungarian grabbed an early break in the decider and kept her foot on the gas. It was a solid performance from the 21-year-old who hasn’t had a deep run since the ITF Russia Challenger in January. But, I wonder if she’ll have enough to get past Caty McNally. The 17-year-old American had an easy win against Mari Osaka dropping a mere two games. I disagree with the oddsmakers, which predict Galfi in three sets. I think McNally will ride the high from her recent win and bounce Galfi in straight sets.
Prediction: McNally in 2

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CiCi Bellis vs Kirsten Flipkens

Head to head: Bellis 0-1 Flipkens

It’s hard to rely on the head to head to make any prediction as CiCi Bellis and Kirsten Flipkens haven’t played since March 2017. That match went the distance after Bellis grabbed the first set, forcing Flipkens to fight back for the win. I give the edge to Flipkens, who’s the more experienced, more consistent player.
Prediction: Flipkens in 3

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Irina Falconi vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Head to head: First meeting

Irina Falconi had to work hard for her second round win. Trading breaks with Quinn Gleason was the norm for this match. The veteran American relied too heavily on her backhand slice, a strategy which yielded mixed results. Falconi lacked the patience to wait for the right shot.  Too often, Falconi simply went for too much too soon creating far too many unforced errors. Long rallies tended to go Falconi’s way, but Bethanie Mattek-Sands will find a way to end points quickly.

Mattek-Sands seems to have turned back the clock. Fit, in form and commanding the court, the former World #1 doubles player has dropped just seven games in Houston. In fact, the wildcard knocked out twelfth seed Allie Kiick 6-0, 6-0. Perhaps a strategy to protect her knee or just a savvy strategy, Mattek-Sands has kept rallies short. Well-disguised drop shots combined with devastating net play has led Mattek-Sands to her spot in the Round of 16. I see little to stop Mattek-Sands at this stage as she looks for her third straight set win.
Prediction: Mattek-Sands in 2

Main Photo from Getty.

Disagree with our WTA Houston Challenger Thursday Predictions? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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