WTA Tour: Tashkent Open Selected Ro16 Fixtures Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat looks at two of the more interesting Round of 16 ties taking place at the WTA Tour's Tashken Open. 

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 5/4 | Nao Hibino 6/10
24-year-old Slovakian Schmiedlova is one of those players who has hovered just below the threshold in recent seasons, threatening to break through but generally remaining fairly anonymous. She has three WTA titles to her name as well as twelve ITF Titles. She is coming into this event in decent form after a run to the quarters of Japan’s Women’s Open. But that was in the wake of five consecutive losses. She also lost in a semi-final of an ITF event in Hungary earlier in the season. She had reasonable runs in Prague and Madrid but it was that title at the Copa Colsanitas that really has defined her season thus far. She also reached the semi-final stage of an ITF event in China earlier this year. While her season has proved quite mercurial, she will be feeling confident ahead of this match against Hibino.

Nao Hibino is coming off a solid victory over Eugenie Bouchard – what a sad story that has become- in her opening match here. She would have felt slightly disappointed in only reaching the final 16 in her home open: the Japan Women’s Open. Hibino reached the semi-finals of an ITF event in Canada recently, notably accounting for some fairly heavy duty names along the way. She beat Bouchard- again- and Heather Watson en route to that semi-final. Hibino won an ITF event Stateside earlier in the year while she also reached a semi-final in Japan. Success on the tour proper has been slightly more difficult to come by, with a round of 16 finish in Washington perhaps her best result outside of ITA action. Hibino certainly has some pedigree, having reached the 2017 Jiangxi Open Final as well as the Malaysian Open Final. She actually won this event in 2015 and reached the final in 2016.

This will be the first time these two have met, and in that instance, I’m inclined to lean towards two-time former finalist Hibino. She clearly has shown an affinity for playing in this area of the world and won this event in 2015. 

Tatjana Maria 15/20 | Margarita Gasparyan 19/20
Tatjana Maria’s season started absolutely awfully. In fact, prior to the Charleston event, she managed to lose nine consecutive matches. That run distressingly included first-round possesses in both legs of the Sunshine Double. But that victory at the Mallorca Open really came as a bonus for Maria. She made it to the second round of Wimbledon prior to a decent run in Cincinnati. She also got into the final 32 before yet another second round showing at Flushing Meadows. She has some form recently, having reached the semi-finals in a 125k event in Chicago. Maria certainly has talent but will need to reach a greater level of consistency in order to break into the higher echelons of the game.

24-year-old Russian Margarita Gasparyan beat Sharapova in her opening match and will know that this will present a mammoth challenge to her. She recently reached the final 16 of the Korea Open and was unfortunate to draw Wimbledon Champion Angelique Kerber in the opening round. Gasparyan plies the majority of her trade on the ITF Tour. She actually managed to make it to the semi-finals of an ITF event hosted earlier this year in Uzbekistan. The 2015 Babu Cup winner hasn’t really been able to flourish outside of the more forgiving confines of the ITF Tour.

This will be the first time these two will be meeting, which will clearly encourage the less fancied player- Gasparyan. Having said that, Margarita is a far more accomplished player and should represent great value to win in straight sets at 19/20. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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