Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 WTA Tour: WTA Premier 5

2020 WTA Tour: WTA Premier 5

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The WTA Premier 5 takes center stage at Foro Italico, Rome, Italy (Clay Outdoors). Damien Kayat previews the respective matchups between Garbine Muguruza vs Coco Gauff as well as 
Anett Kontaveit vs Svetlana Kuznetsova.
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2020 WTA Tour  | USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, Flushing Meadows, New York (Outdoor Hardcourt)
US Open Tennis Championships
Selected Quarterfinal Matches

Garbine Muguruza (9) (4/10)
vs Coco Gauff (18/10)

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff looked set for a gigantic post-lockdown season after fighting her way into the semi-final of the Top Seed Open. But things never quite materialized for the woman seen as the natural successor to Serena Williams’ throne.  The 16-year-old (makes you feel old) lost in consecutive opening-round matches at the Cincinnati Open and US Open.  So, she will have taken a lot of heart from easily dispatching Ons Jabeur in the opening round. Gauff endeared herself to tennis fans the world over with her Grand Slam breakthroughs in recent times. She has reached the 2nd week of two Grand Slams out of three, showcasing a big-match temperament well beyond her years.   One issue for Gauff is her lack of experience on clay. Gauff has yet to play at Roland Garros and has very limited know-how on clay-court surfaces. 

Garbine Muguruza is the polar opposite of Coco Gauff. A grizzled veteran at 26, Muguruza is a clay-court specialist with the Roland Garros title to prove it. She also happens to have an 82% win-loss ratio in Paris- the best of all her slams. The former Wimbledon Champion has had to overcome rollercoaster bouts with form and injury travails. Her trip to the summit of Kilimanjaro at the end of 2019 seems to have given her some added perspective (reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez also helped). She started the event by reaching the semi-finals in Shenzhen. She then went on a miracle run in Melbourne, beating the likes of Halep, Bertens and Svitolina en route to another Grand Slam Final. Quarterfinals in Dubai and Qatar pre-lockdown showed a heightened level of consistency. Her post-lockdown form has been poor, though a straight-sets victory over Sloane Stephens in her opening match could be a good portent for the Spaniard.   

This will be their first-ever encounter. It should make for a great spectacle, as Muguruza and Gauff both stormed past their opening round opponents. Muguruza hit 22 winners in the rain and looked positively dominant.  I think she will use all her street-smarts to outwit the teenage sensation.
  
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Anett Kontaveit (14) (1/4)
vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (5/2)

Estonian Anett Kontaveit has slowly maneuvered her way into the upper echelons of women’s tennis. The 2018 China Open Finalist and 2019 Miami Open semi-finalist has made incredible progress in 2020 (becoming one of the most consistent players on the entire tour). Her playing style reminds me of Martina Hingis (the Swiss utilized a wide variety of slices and groundstrokes to wrong-foot opponents). She reached her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Aussie Open prior to a WTA final appearance in Palermo. Her post-lockdown form has been rock-solid. After reaching the Palermo final he reached the quarterfinal of Cincinnati. That preceded a US Open 4th round defeat to eventual champion Naomi Osaka. Kontaveit dealt with Caroline Garcia in dismissive fashion and will be looking for a strong clay-court season (such as it is). 

It’s strange to think of Svetlana Kuznetsova as only 35-years-old.  It feels like she been around forever.  The two-time Grand Slam Champion has obstinately refused to give in to retirement calls (she clearly loves the game). Her victory in the 2018 Citi Open was a testament to her stubborn refusal to give in.  Looking at her overall Grand Slam stats, Roland Garros has clearly been her favourite Slam.  She has four quarterfinals, two semi-finals and two finals to her name (including that 2009 victory).  She clearly has an affinity for clay. Kuznetsova unbelievably reached the final at last year’s Western and Southern Open.  This very season she beat Belinda Bencic en route to a semi-final berth at Qatar.  Her opening-round win over Pera was only her 2nd match post-lockdown.  Kuznetsova is a dogged competitor who may have benefitted from the enforced layoff. 

Anett Kontaveit leads the head-to-head 1-0. That win amazingly enough came in this very event in 2018.  I’m of the opinion that Kuznetsova has a real chance here. Kontaveit has been one of the busiest players on tour and may be slightly jaded. Furthermore, Kuznetsova is a savvy professional who still possesses the ability to beat most players on her day.  


Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets

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