Tennis Predictions & Stats,

January 31,2023

Hantuchova to face Vekic in Birmingham final

The first semi final of the very rain delayed Aegon Classic tournament being played in Birmingham, England, on grass this week was between 16th seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia and the very talented Croatian teenager, sixteen year old Donna Vekic, who is ranked at 89. Their only previous meeting was also in a final, in 2012, which Rybarikova won. Rybarikova, the Aegon Classic 2009 champion, won her first match against a British wild card in straight sets but then scraped through three very close sets to make it to the quarters where she played top seeded Kirsten Flipkens. She won that match in straights to make her way to the semis. Vekic won her first two matches in straights – the second against 8th seeded Ursula Radwanska – then had a three set battle. In the quarters she took out 3rd seeded Sorana Cirstea in straights, losing just three games.

The first set was very close and went to a tie breaker, which the Croatian won 7-5, but the more experienced Rybarikova came back in the second set to take it easily 6-1 and force a decider. Vecic regrouped and went on to take the set 6-3 to move into the final.

The second semi final saw the Slovak, Daniela Hantuchova, take on the American qualifier, 167th ranked Alison Riske. Hantuchova won her first two matches in straights, the second against Laura Robson, the British 7th seed. She then had a two three setters, against the 12th seeded Kristina Mladenovic and an extremely tight three setter against Francesca Schiavone in the quarters. Riske won her first round in straights, beat 4th seeded Tamira Paszek in the second round in three, lost only three games in her third match and then took out 5th seeded Sabine Lisicki in the quarters, a match which was played earlier in the day.

Rain stopped play with Hantuchova leading 4-3 in the first set. When they resumed, they got to 5-5 before the American broke and served out the set 7-5. Hantuchova took the second set easily at 6-1. The Slovak got her first break to lead 4-3 and served out the set at 6-4 to take her place in the final.

Renay Freedman
Renay Freedman
WTA tennis writer with a focus on event previews and results.

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