An unlikely WTA quarter-final, but the winner of this match will likely go into the semi-final as a strong favourite to lift the title in the beautiful surroundings of Bad Gastein. Neither player has a WTA title to their name so far, so the pressure will be on both players.
Karin Knapp has seen off Valeria Solovyeva and Alexandra Cadantu to reach this stage. She has enjoyed plenty of success behind an aggressive first serve and has possessed the greater weapons off the ground against both of her opponents so far. Her return game is working well, as shown by the fact that she has broken her opponent twelve times in her two matches thus far. She enjoyed an unexpected run to the second week of Wimbledon with wins over Hradecka, Safarova and Larcher de Brito and is clearly playing with plenty of confidence right now.
Annika Beck remains one of the brightest prospects in the women’s game and it seems just a matter of time until she wins her first title. Shahar Peer was dispatched in straight sets in the first round, although Beck had to rally from a set and a break down to beat Mandy Minella. The two major worries for her so far have been the mysterious nosebleeds that have affected the German in both her matches so far, and the problems on her serve. Twenty double faults in her two matches are certainly a real concern.
They actually played just over a month ago in Nurnberg where Annika Beck won 6-4, 6-2. The match was far closer than the scoreline suggests with Knapp dominating with her powerful groundstrokes and Beck looking to counter-punch. This match will likely follow a similar pattern and the player that is more clinical on break points is likely to progress to the semi-final.
“I had problems with the conditions today. It was pretty hot and we’re playing at altitude, so you can’t control the ball all the time” – Annika Beck
“I am happy with this tournament. My hometown is in Brunico, South Tyrol, which is just 140km away. My parents are here and I enjoy this family atmosphere” – Karin Knapp
It is tough to pick a winner here. Both players know that this is a golden opportunity for a first title and it will come down to whichever player makes fewer mistakes. Knapp seems to be coping better with the altitude and, if Beck struggles with her serve, she should be able to dominate the rallies from the start. A tight match, but Knapp to progress in three sets.
The Rest of the Matches
Serena Williams continues her comfortable, if unimpressive, passage through this tournament. While she is not playing well, she should dispatch Lourdes Dominguez Lino with few problems. Klara Zakopalova should be an easy winner against the surprise quarter-finalist, Richel Hogenkamp, while Flavia Pennetta will be hoping to back up a good performance against Simona Halep with a victory over the French player, Virginie Razzano. Swedish hopes will be firmly on the shoulders of Johanna Larsson, who will be optimistic of a victory over the talented but unpredictable Mathilde Johansson.
Andrea Hlavackova has never reached a WTA semi-final, but it would be a major surprise if she were to lose to Lisa-Maria Moser. The Austrian wildcard has had a dream tournament, but it should come to an end here. Elsewhere, Yvonne Meusburger should guarantee at least one Austrian in the semi-finals as she takes on Arantxa Rus, while Patricia Mayr-Achleitner against Elina Svitolina should be a very closely fought match.