There was a slew of retirements in Stuttgart yesterday as the likes of Vondrousova, Kerber and Muguruza were unable to finish their second-round clashes. However the quarterfinal field in Stuttgart is still quality with my favourite matches of the day being Svitolina-Garcia and Pliskova-Ostapenko. Read on for these two match previews…
1.  Elina Svitolina (No.4) vs  Caroline Garcia (No.7)
Svitolina notched her first win in her Stuttgart debut against Marketa Vondrousova after coming through in three sets, with the young Czech retiring 2-3 down in the deciding set. It was Svitolina’s first clay event of the season and the rust showed as Vondrousova took advantage of a slow start from Svitolina. The Ukrainian started to mount a comeback from then on and the injury was too much for Vondrousova. Svitolina’s opponent in the quarterfinals, Garcia, also needed three sets to oust 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk. This is the first time Garcia has notched back-to-back wins since Indian Wells.
Head to head: Garcia leads the head to head 2-1, with their two recent matches coming during the Asian swing last year. Both were won by Garcia, with some crazy scorelines (6-7 7-5 7-6 in Beijing and 6-7 6-3 7-5 in Singapore).
Thoughts: I’m still not entirely convinced by Garcia’s level as she can be super erratic from time to time. The indoor clay should be to Garcia’s liking but I feel Svitolina’s defense could frustrate her a lot. I think she’ll be motivated to get some wins this week…
Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Caroline Garcia in three sets
2.  Karolina Pliskova (No.6) vs  Jelena Ostapenko (No.5)
Pliskova has made her sixth quarterfinal of the year in Stuttgart courtesy of victories over Kiki Bertens and Veronika Kudermetova. Both were tough prospects – Bertens is a clay court specialist and Kudermetova is a qualifier who already had ton of time to adapt to the conditions. However, Pliskova once again showed her champion qualities to win both matches in straight sets. Pliskova managed to hit 15 aces in both her Fed Cup match vs Kerber and against Kudermetova in the second round – clearly the practice on the serve is already paying a ton of dividends for the Czech.
Ostapenko has been looking really good since Indian Wells – she beat a pair of top 10 players in Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova to reach the final in Miami, then afterwards cruised past Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Fed Cup action, and in her opener in Stuttgart, she inflicted a bagel on Zarina Diyas in a 6-3 6-0 win. I watched bits of Ostapenko’s performance and as usual she was punishing the Diyas second serve and was potent from the baseline. She’s on fire at the moment…
Head to head: Pliskova leads the head to head 2-1, though it is Ostapenko who won their previous encounter at the WTA Finals.
Thoughts: This match-up is always fun with two power players but with contrasting emotions on court. I’m interested though to see Pliskova’s defending and movement on the clay when Ostapenko is on the attack. If the movement’s OK and the serve’s on par, I think Pliskova can win this one. I’ve been impressed with her performances this week and you never know when Ostapenko will chuck in an erratic display.
Final Prediction: Karolina Pliskova d. Jelena Ostapenko in three sets
Stuttgart predictions can be found at the top of the page or by clicking the link here! Thank you for reading!