An intriguing first round encounter between American youngster Sloane Stephens and Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is scheduled to take place at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday. This will mark the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Stephens leading the head-to-head series 2-1 with consecutive wins in 2013.
After losing her first hard court match following the Wimbledon Championships in Washington to Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens rebounded by knocking out hometown favourite Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes. The world No. 20 hit 5 aces, won 74% of her first service points and saved all three of the break points she faced on serve. Sadly for Stephens, her winning ways would not last as she lost her second round match to Serbian No. 1 Jelena Jankovic to send her tumbling out of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
After winning her second title of the season in Bad Gastien, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic made a strong start to her US Open Series in Stanford, where she defeated youngster Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams before losing to the current No. 1 Serena Williams in the semi-final round of the tournament. She was forced to withdraw from Montreal with the flu but appears to be back in shape and ready to continue her winning ways in Cincinnati.
While Stephens leads the head-to-head series, it is Petkovic who is riding the wave of momentum heading into this encounter. Stephens’ two wins over the German took place in 2013, where she was a clear prospect making gradual steps to improve her game. She has since plateaued and allowed her opponents to get the better of her in matches. Petkovic may be coming off a week’s break with the flu but she should be able to deal with Stephens on the faster conditions in Cincinnati.
Prediction: Andrea Petkovic in Three Sets