The 2017 WTA Finals Singapore started off with a duo of hard-hitting matches, but only two came tops – Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza. The pair will meet each other on Tuesday in hopes of leading the White Group leaderboard. I’ll be previewing the match here in this post…
 Garbine Muguruza (No.2) vs  Karolina Pliskova (No.3)
Muguruza’s route to this stage
RR1: d.  Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-4
Pliskova’s route to this stage
RR1: d.  Venus Williams, 6-2 6-2
What a start to the 2017 WTA Finals for these two players, especially Karolina Pliskova! The World No.3 was coming into the year-end tournament with a state of doubt, having produced a poor-serving performance against Sorana Cirstea in her most recent tournament in Beijing. Also with the coach saga with Barbora Strycova, maybe Pliskova would be a little unfocused in Singapore. However, Pliskova shut the haters with a super clean performance against Venus Williams, ending the match with a 25 winners-12 unforced errors ratio. Watching Pliskova live is a true blessing – you can see exactly why fellow players struggle to return her first serve. Her height, simple service motion, precision and pace are the perfect ways for a good serve, and that was the main reason why Venus Williams could not keep up with the Czech (more on Venus in next preview). Her movement, classified as her main weakness, was not on show as she was willing to chase down every ball and make Venus hit more errors. Even her backhand, her weaker wing, was on fire during the match. If she keeps this up, she is definitely a contender for the prestigious trophy…
While Pliskova was extremely impressive, maybe Garbine Muguruza’s win did not seem that outstanding, but it was a super solid display of tennis from the Spaniard. Muguruza has experience on the Singapore tennis courts, having qualified for the Finals for the past two years, and it showed as she played really smart tennis. Against Jelena Ostapenko, a confident youngster who can blow you off the court anytime, Muguruza decided to stay a little more consistent and not go for too much. It paid off, as Ostapenko’s errors were her own wrongdoing. Although wobbling a little at the end of the match, it was too little too late for Ostapenko as Muguruza secured a 6-3 6-4 victory for her fifth win in the WTA Finals.
Head to head: Pliskova leads the head to head 6-2, but Muguruza won their previous showdown in Cincinnati – a 6-3 6-2 showdown. I remember that day Pliskova was really really tired from having to play two matches the previous day. The pair met in Singapore before, which Pliskova won, 6-2 6-7(4) 7-5, where the Czech saved a match point.
Stat: Other then their first meeting in the 2013 edition of Roland Garros, the winner of the first set has always done on to win the match! Also, all of their meetings except the one mentioned above has been on a hard court surface.
Thoughts: As opposed to Ostapenko, Pliskova is a much more controlled player and I don’t think playing solid against her will do Muguruza much good. As from the first match, Pliskova has quickly adapted to the conditions and being a match-up kind of player, Pliskova should definitely head into this one confident. Both players will need to take their chances when they arrive, while remaining solid and maintain enough depth.
This is one of my favourite younger-generation rivalries! Although Pliskova has won the majority of them, Muguruza’s most recent win showed that she still has a chance in this head to head. With both brimming with confidence, this one could be an epic… Pliskova 52-48 for me.