Defending champion Petra Kvitova looks to keep her hunt for the World No.1 on track with a good week in Madrid, next taking on Kristina Mladenovic. The Czech can’t gain on her rivals this week but defending the title would be a good start with plenty of points on offer in Rome and Paris.
Mladenovic has now teamed up with Sascha Bajin, in what could be a lucrative partnership for the Frenchwoman. Bajin, off a successful run with Naomi Osaka, will now hope to work the same magic with a player who has struggled a fair bit since her brief foray into the top 10. Currently outside the top 60, she had to qualify for the tournament but did so in style with two straight sets wins. She followed that up with a crushing win over Barbara Strycova, dropping just four games in the process.
Kvitova is in the best form of her career and a third grand slam title seems a matter of when rather than if now. She made her fourth final of the year in Stuttgart, beating Anett Kontaveit in straight sets to take the title. Opening in Madrid with victory over Sofia Kenin, Kvitova is in a confident mood right now and shouldn’t be finding it too tough against an opponent she has dominated in the past. She is 5-1 against Mladenovic, although none of them have been on clay. Madrid is a place that the Czech has looked more at home at, partly due to the conditions which often differ compared to other clay events. “The balls are flying more, which means I can go for it and it’s tougher for the opponent. The courts are not sliding that much as well. I’m not a big slider so I don’t have to slide at all.” she said.
Prediction – Petra Kvitova in straight sets