Stuttgart first rounders have delivered as usual so here’s another post previewing two fascinating match-ups in Sharapova-Garcia and Goerges-Sevastova. You might want to check out my main draw preview here and a match preview for Kerber-Kvitova here. Read on for the previews…
*Please note that after writing, Anastasija Sevastova has withdrawn from Stuttgart and now Julia Goerges will play Marketa Vondrousova in the first round.*
1. Maria Sharapova (No.42) vs  Caroline Garcia (No.7)
Sharapova has had a really tough start to the year by her standards – best results this year have been a semifinal run in Shenzhen, and a third round run in the Australian Open. Her game hasn’t been there for her, and niggling injuries with her forearms obviously doesn’t help the situation. Maria has been seen practicing on the Stuttgart clay with ex-coach Thomas Hogstedt after recently splitting with long-time coach Groeneveld. Super intrigued to find out how her first week on the tour with Hogstedt begins…
Garcia’s results have ranged from good, to bad, to very bad – and I think her game’s in the ‘very bad’ section right now. Her recent lows have involved a second round loss in Miami to Alison Riske and in the third round of Charleston to Alize Cornet. You never really know which Garcia is going to appear on the court and after the hype last Asian swing where everyone was talking about her, 2018 has been hugely disappointing for the Frenchwoman.
Head to head: Sharapova leads the head to head 4-0, with two of their meetings coming on clay. Both times they met on clay, Garcia managed to push the Russian to three sets.
Thoughts: It’s a complete mystery what will happen in this match because both players have been so disappointing of late. The Stuttgart conditions should favour both girls, but Sharapova’s a three-time champion here. Providing the injuries are under check, I think Maria will be highly motivated to get some wins here and raise her intensity for this one.
Final Prediction: Maria Sharapova d. Caroline Garcia in three sets
2. Julia Goerges (No.11) vs Anastasija Sevastova (No.15)
Wow what a first rounder. While Goerges’ form has dipped a little and Sevastova’s results have been mediocre of late, the quality Stuttgart draw has not allowed anyone outside of the world’s top 10 to bag a seeding. Goerges’ clay season started a couple of weeks back in Charleston where she made the final (and beat Sevastova enroute). Clay theoretically would not suit Goerges’ playing style, but she has been successful on this surface. She’s a former champion in Stuttgart as well, beating then-World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki for the title in 2011.
This time of the season has always been Sevastova’s favourite – last year she actually managed to make five quarterfinals on the clay in seven tournaments played. Sevastova is coming from Fed Cup duties in Russia where she went 1-1, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before beating Ekaterina Makarova to seal the tie for Russia.
Head to head: Goerges leads the head to head 5-3. Just a couple of weeks back they played in the Charleston semifinals where the German produced a top-notch performance to oust the Latvian in straights.
Thoughts: Goerges-Sevastova matches are always a bundle of fun with their contrasting styles and on clay, I feel it brings this match-up to a different dimension. Goerges has already had two matches under her belt in Stuttgart having played Fed Cup and I think that will help her a lot against a tricky player in Sevastova.
Final Prediction: Julia Goerges d. Anastasija Sevastova in three sets
Stuttgart predictions can be found at the top of the page or by clicking the link here! Thank you for reading!