The quarter-finals get underway at the China Open with Damien Kayat previewing the respective matchups between Ashley Barty and Petra Kvitiova as well as Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens.
WTA Tour 2019 | Premier Mandatory | China Open
National Tennis Centre, Beijing, China
Selected Quarter-Finals – 4 October 2019
Ashleigh Barty (9/10)
vs Petra Kvitiova (8/10)
Ashleigh Barty’s week got off to a wonderful start, with Jelena Ostapenko’s stunning upset victory over Karolina Pliskova. It pretty much guaranteed her number one status for now, though Elina Svitolina lurks menacingly background. What more can be said of the brilliant Barty? The former Aussie cricket starlet has enjoyed a wonderful campaign, obviously highlighted by her magnificent win at Roland Garros. She has won on her surfaces this year, claiming a captivating hardcourt victory at Indian Wells. While she hasn’t tasted victory since Birmingham, there has been a comforting level of consistency to her game. She reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati prior to last week’s semi-final run at the Wuhan Open: she ultimately lost to eventual champion Sabalenka. Barty is a pugnacious competitor on all surfaces, winning titles in both singles and doubles on all three surfaces.
Two-time Grand Slam Champion Petra Kvitova should feel comfortable here: she reached the final of this event in 2014. Kvitova has a remarkable comeback in 2018, claiming five WTA titles in quite possibly her greatest year on tour. And 2019 started no different, with a title in Sydney followed by an amazing run to the Aussie Open final. She followed that up with a final in Dubai and a victory in Stuttgart. But things have gone slightly cold for Kvitova since then, which was surprising given her noted proficiency on grass. Things may have turned a corner for Kvitova last week, as she too reached the semi-final stage of the Wuhan Open. That makes this an interesting clash, with the two beaten semi-finalists of last week’s event going at it.
This will be the 5th meeting between these two, with Kvitova holding a commanding 4-1 lead. Barty won their last meeting in Miami, but Kvitova has already beaten her twice this year. I have to admit I like Kvitova for this one. She is yet to drop a set this week while Barty battled through her last match. Furthermore, Kvitova is a past master at playing on this continent. She has won the Wuhan Open twice and finished runner-up at this very event.
Elina Svitolina (5/10)
vs Kiki Bertens (14/10)
It’s been quite a strange year for Ukrainian superstar Elina Svitolina. She has surged up to number three in the rankings despite having not reached one final all year. She has been the queen of semi-final appearances, reaching five already this year. But her real success has been on the Grand Slam stage. Back-to-back semi-finals at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows have helped cement her reputation as one of the premier players on tour. She also reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells, highlighting her undoubted proficiency on these surfaces. Having said all that, I’m sure that last year’s WTA Finals Champion will love to add a title to her resume in this auspicious campaign. She has already surpassed her performance here last season, where an opening round loss to Krunic typified a poor Oriental swing.
In contrast, Kiki Bertens has enjoyed her fair share of final action this year, winning titles in St Petersburg and Madrid: she also lost the Rosmalen and Palermo finals. But she has generally failed to live up to her hype in Grand Slam competition- though she did reach the semi-final of Roland Garros in 2016. Bertens has found success on all surfaces, with last year’s victory in Cincinnati evidence enough of her ability on this surface. But prior to this event she was in the midst of a dreadful run. She had a win-loss run of 4-6 entering this event, which included an opening round loss in a WTA 125K event. This week she has shown some signs of improvement, though she did survive bruising three-set matches against both Donna Vekic and Polona Hercog.
The Ukrainian leads the head-to-head between these two 2-1. Those matches have all come on fast, hard surfaces. Svitolina also won their last match at last year’s WTA Championships. I think that Svitolina will be hugely motivated to make her first final appearance this year, especially with Pliskova being unceremoniously dumped out of this event already.