WTA Tour: Birmingham Open Selected Quarter-Finals Preview

Tennis player holds racquet
We take a look at two of the most exciting quarter-finals at the Birmingham Classic taking place at the Edgbaston Priory Club.

Mihaela Buznarescu 26/10 | Elina Svitolina 1/4
Second seed Elina Svitolina absolutely burst into the collective tennis consciousness with those three WTA Premier victories last season. While she has yet to augment her status on the Grand Slam circuit, victories in Brisbane and Dubai further accentuated her ability to mix it on the faster surfaces. But then she had a major breakthrough in Rome, winning a Premier title on clay. That victory will no doubt embolden her towards a successful evolution on grass. She hasn’t exactly had it all her own way thus far in Birmingham. She was pushed to three sets in a gruelling opening encounter against Donna Vekic before a far more convincing victory over Alize Cornet.

Buznarescu has really enjoyed a season of two halves thus far. There was nothing really to speak of in the opening salvos. But a switch to her favourite clay surface sparked a mini-renaissance. She reached the final in Prague and managed a semi-final appearance in Strasbourg. She then had a respectable run to the final 16 at Roland Garros, losing to eventual semi-finalist Madison Keys. And her grass-court season got off to a respectable enough start with a quarterfinal run in Nottingham. That will be encouraging considering the fact that she has never even got past the qualifying stages and competed in Wimbledon proper. She has picked up two decent scalps in Petra Martic and Timea Babos and will feel confident going up against the much higher ranked opponent.

There are a few things that make Buznarescu promising at 26/10. Firstly, she has a 1-0 head-to-head record against Svitolina. Secondly, that victory came as recently as this year’s French Open third round. Thirdly, Svitolina has yet to make a significant grass-court breakthrough. So 26/10 looks interesting for Buznarescu. 

Julia Gorges 2/1 | Petra Kvitova 7/20
A real top tier encounter sees German Gorges take on the comeback queen of woman’s tennis Petra Kvitova. Gorges has had a decent draw, beating Sakkari and Ashleigh Barty thus far. Gorges has had an up and down year, with a run to the final in Charleston the closest she has come to tasting title success. Gorges also reached the quarters in Qatar and the semi-finals in St Petersburg. So it’s been a reasonable year for a player looking to take that next step towards being a perennial contender in events. She is also taking on a woman whose return to form has been nothing short of sensational.

After suffering that serious knife attack injury last year, there were serious concerns over whether Kvitova would ever play again. But the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon Champion has absolutely stormed back into the reckoning this year. While Wozniacki and Halep have picked up inaugural Grand Slam victories, Kvitova has won four tournaments. She won in Qatar and St Petersburg before picking up wins in Prague and Madrid. The Madrid win was exceptional giving the fact that clay has never been a traditional area of expertise for the Czech Grand Slam Champion. Kvitova is a grass-court behemoth and will be hard to stop this week.

Adding to the German’s misery will be the head-to-head record of the players. Kvitova leads that 4-1, winning the last four consecutive matches. That includes two matches already this year. I can’t see any other result than a Kvitova victory. She is a serene presence on the grass, especially when that massive left-handed serve renders her service games routine. 

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