Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2019 WTA Tour: Wuhan Open Selected Round of 32 Preview

2019 WTA Tour: Wuhan Open Selected Round of 32 Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat previews the selected round of 32 matches of the Wuhan Open taking place at the Optics Valley International Tennis Centre. 

2019 WTA Tour
WTA Premier
Wuhan Open
Optics Valley International Tennis Centre
Selected Round of 32 Matches- 24th September

Kiki Bertens (6) (9/20) vs Bernarda Pera (31/20)
Dutch superstar Kiki Bertens has been in slightly indifferent form in the latter part of the season. I think that she has been a victim of her own success, playing in far too many events over the season.  She reached a plethora of semi-finals and finals this year, particularly in the opening half of the year.  She claimed a victory in St Petersburg, showcasing her ability on hardcourts. Semi-finals in Madrid, Sydney and Eastbourne highlight her dexterity on all surfaces. But recent first round defeats in Japan and a WTA 125 event are slightly concerning. That straight sets defeat to Pavlychenkova in Japan bore all the signs of a long season’s wind down.

Croatian born American Bernarda Pera has really struggled for some time to establish herself in the top tier of women’s tennis. The 24 year-old is nominally a clay-court specialist, with 17 of her 20 ITF finals coming on clay. She has come through qualifying this week and just overcame Jennifer Brady in a gruelling three-set match. But if you dig into her stats this season you realise that Pera has actually enjoyed a really solid campaign. She reached the semi-finals in Prague prior to claiming an ITF title in Slovakia. She then enjoyed semi-final runs at Lausanne and the Baltic Open- admittedly slightly lower calibre events. She also managed to reach the quarterfinals of the New York Open. So it’s fair to say that Bernarda Pera is probably feeling quite confident as we enter the closing stages of the 2019 season. 

This will be their 2nd meeting, with Bertens claiming a straight sets victory earlier this year in Sydney. Well it’s tempting to look at Pera’s recent results and get distracted, you have to remember that those events were largely second tier events. Bertens to win in straight sets at 11/10 looks like the only good option, with Bertens maybe benefitting from the rest afforded to her in her recent opening round defeats. 

Ashleigh Barty (1) (1/4) vs Caroline Garcia (3/1)
Ashleigh Barty’s fairly subdued recent form has allowed Karoline Pliskova to slowly encroach on her World Number One ranking. You can understand a slight dip in form for the Aussie, whose heroic victory at Roland Garros punctuated a meteoric return to the upper echelons of the game. The pugnacious Aussie has really had an incredible campaign, with success on all surfaces. Her magnificent victory on the clay courts in Paris was followed by grass-court success at Birmingham. But it was perhaps her victory in the Miami event that really signalled her massive resurgence. Barty reached the final here in 2017- more on that later- and she will be looking to draw on those experiences as she aims to retain her number ranking. She has an incredible 2019 win-loss record of 41-9 and will enter this event as the huge favourite.

Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia is on the opposite end of the tennis spectrum. Just last year she reached a career high world ranking of number 4. But 2019 has generally been disappointing, despite claiming the title- quite unexpectedly- at Nottingham. In fact, her recent form has been quite abysmal, including an opening round defeat in Japan last week. But I was quite encouraged by her straight sets victory over Daria Kasatkina in the opening match. Garcia seems to have focused primarily on her double’s career. But this week she returns to the venue of one of her greatest success stories. In 2017 she pulled off a remarkable double, winning her first Premier event here before claiming her first Premier Mandatory title in the China Open. More importantly, Garcia’s victory in the 2017 final came at the expense of Aussie Ashleigh Barty. Clearly that was a different incarnation of Barty, but nonetheless Barty will draw some confidence from that result.

Clearly the early stages of these events present relative mismatches. So the key is to look for potential upset fodder. I really think this could be one such case. They share a head-to-head record of 1-1, with Garcia overcoming Barty in the 2017 final. Barty may also be feeling slightly tight with Pliskova bulldozing toward the number ranking so forcefully. Perhaps the prudent option would be Barty to win in three set sets, but perhaps there’s value to be had in a shock Garcia victory. She wasn’t world number 4 for nothing.

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets