Jule Niemeier reached the main draw in Strasbourg through qualifying rounds. She faced a top caliber opponent in the form of Andrea Petkovic. Surely, it was a hard fought win requiring a second set tiebreak and a deciding third set. Yet the 21-year-old German turned in impressive stats to bounce Petkovic.
Fellow qualifier Diane Parry received a first round walkover. Then, she battled through a three-set clash against Karman Kaur Thandi. The Frenchwoman’s solid service game saw her thwart the Kaur Thandi challenge. Certainly, Parry has sent less time on the courts and will be the fresher of the. Yet, it’s really Niemeier’s pedigree which will give her the win. There’s too much to the German’s game to allow Parry to challenge here.
With 84 ranking spots separating Alison Van Uytvanck and Harmony Tan, this would appear to be an easy win for the Belgian. Yet Van Uytvanck has yet to win a clay court match this season. She starts her fourth clay court tournament without a win. Certainly, her Belgrade first round defeat was a narrow loss. It was an unfortunate opener where she came up against a red hot Ana Konjuh. But can the sorely out-of-form Van Uytvanck gain any traction here?
Tan is coming off a semifinal run at the L’Open 35 de Saint-Malo. The Frenchwoman is 9-3 on clay this season. It seems this surface agrees with her. Tan is on an upward trajectory, while Van Uytvanck continues to struggle with her form. I’ll go against the rankings on this one.
This is definitely a Round of 16 clash with two players looking to find some form before Roland Garros. Eighth seed Magda Linette commanded on Sunday against Nao Hibino, dropping a mere two games. Yet the red clay hasn’t yielded the Pole’s strongest successes. If Linette can end points quickly, rifling backhand winners or closing the net, we’ll see her in the quarterfinals.
Alize Cornet has played two clay events and was bounced out of her openers. Perhaps her French crowd can lift her dismal spirits and give Cornet her first clay court win of the season. She obviously has gotten the better of Linette in their previous bouts. Perhaps it’s Cornet’s ability to extend the rallies and wear down the Pole. Yet, such a strong start for Linette should give her the confidence needed to bring an aggressive – and quick – game to the Frenchwoman. It’s going to be a close affair.