This post previews two Brisbane International quarterfinal match-ups on Friday – read on for previews of Sasnovich-Vekic and Tomljanovic-Ka.Pliskova…
1. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (No.30) vs Donna Vekic (No.34)
Two of the most underrated breakthrough stars of 2018, Sasnovich and Vekic, will meet each other for the third time in their careers, but for the first time on the WTA circuit. Sasnovich has continued her giant slaying ways and is once again playing her best tennis in Brisbane with a fourth career top ten victory over Elina Svitolina, 6-4 0-6 6-3. The Belarusian played stunning tennis in the first and third sets with an array of angles, drop shots and stunning volleys to move Svitolina from side-to-side and outplay her completely. Svitolina didn’t play a bad match, but Sasnovich was way too consistent. Even her weakness, the forehand wing, was surprisingly solid and she was even able to hit some winners of that side.
Vekic ended 2018 slightly lower in the rankings than Sasnovich, but had an equally fantastic season, perhaps even a better one, having recorded 34 wins in the entire year. Vekic reached six quarterfinals in 2018 and has continued the bright form this year with wins over Magdalena Rybarikova and a 7-6(5) 1-6 7-5 upset over Kiki Bertens, saving two match points in the process. Vekic’s partnership with Kerber’s former coach Torben Beltz is a great partnership and if she can find week-to-week consistency on the court, she can definitely achieve bigger things.
Head to head: Vekic leads the head to head 2-0, however the pair have not met since 2016. As aforementioned, this will be their first meeting on WTA main draw level.
Thoughts: This is a tough one to predict as both players can experience bouts of inconsistency on court, but if both are playing their best tennis, this could be a very pretty and intriguing encounter. Pretty much 50-50 for this one, but taking Vekic, the more powerful player for the win for some reason.
Final Prediction: Donna Vekic d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets
2. Alja Tomljanovic (No.46) vs  Karolina Pliskova (No.8)
Tomljanovic is another player who enjoyed a breakthrough 2018, ending the year at her highest year-end ranking of No.43. Tomljanovic enjoyed a positive 36-24 win-loss record and reached six quarterfinals in the process. Tomljanovic has never been known for her consistency but since her injury layoff, she has looked more secure and in control of her game. The Australian has enjoyed a bright start to the year in her home crowd, recovering from a first set breadstick to beat Katerina Siniakova in three, and blowing past Johanna Konta in straights to record back-to-back wins in Brisbane for the first time in her career.
The underlying theme of Pliskova since 2017 has been to find a way to win without playing your best tennis. A hugely underrated quality that Pliskova possesses is her ability to dig deep and find a way to recover from deficits. This was on show in Brisbane where she fought back from a set down to defeat Putintseva, before securing a 7-5 6-2 win against qualifier Marie Bouzkova.
Stat: Tomljanovic is 4-24 against top 20 players in her career and has not beaten a player of this calibre since 2015, where she beat World No.18 Madison Keys.
Thoughts: Not many players possess more firepower than Pliskova but Tomljanovic is definitely one who can and if she plays her best tennis, she definitely can outhit Pliskova. However, the stat aforementioned is a concern and she always seems to tighten up when trying to close out stats or matches. Pliskova’s experience and fighting quality should shine through in Brisbane once again.
Final Prediction: Karolina Pliskova d. Alja Tomljanovic in three sets
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Brisbane predictions here!