Saturday, 23 April 2016

Two Germans in Stuttgart semis

In Barcelona Nadal and Nishikori eased into their expected semi final berths with straight sets victories over Fognini and Dolgopolov respectively.  Rafa let his second set drag to a tie break at which point his patience snapped and he allowed only a single further point to the 12th seeded Italian..
Nishikori was more devastating in his destruction of 11th seed Dolgopolov.  After the first set offered something of a contest, the Japanese second seed blew the Ukraine hopes away, winning 27 of the 40 points played in the short second set.

Nadal will play German Philip Kohlschreiber in his semi, while French player Benoit Paire is the next prey for Nishikori.  Both opponents are ranked in the top thirty so should provide decent workouts for the top two seeds.

Stuttgart has given Petra Kvitova the opportunity to maybe put her season on track.  She held her nerve to beat Niculescu and make the quarter final and now has overcome third seed Garbine Muguruza in another three setter, this time losing the middle set, but obliterating the Spaniard in the opening and closing stanzas 6-1 & 6-0.  
A tough semi final awaits against Angie Kerber who is on her home turf, but Petra is winning matches requiring a lot of grit at the moment, and she has previously gone missing when sufficient pressure was applied.  Hopefully, and I've said this a number of times before, the Kvitova potential can finally begin to be fully realised.

For the locals, not only Angie has them screaming for joy.  Laura Siegemund added the scalp of 6th seed Roberta Vinci to that of Simona Halep as she skipped into the semi finals to face top seed Aga Radwanska.  28 year old Laura finished 2002 ranked 1235 and only reached the top 100 last year.  It is a great story of endurance and improvement over many years for the German player, and this terrific week will not only provide her a decent cheque, but a significant rankings boost.

The Bucharest semi finalists are decided and unseeded Fernando Verdasco presents dangerous opposition for fourth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, given some of the form he has displayed this year, belying his ranking.
The other semi features third seed Federico Delbonis, whose 17-8 win loss record (with one title) in 2016 looks rather imposing, against French surprise packet Lucas Pouille.  Following his axing of second seed Karlovic, Pouille pulled the same manoeuvre on seventh seed Paolo Lorenzi. so should not be treated lightly by Delbonis.

Maria Sakkari's fine run at Istanbul was ended thanks to fifth seed Danka Kovinic, but not before she had won the first set 6-1, putting a scare right through the Montenegrin.
Kovinic (ranking 60) will play the Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova (ranking 129) in one semi final.  The other will be contested between Turkey's own Cagla Buyukakcay (ranking 118) and Stefanie Voegele (ranking 116) from Switzerland.

There are lots of points on offer for finalists and semi finalists at this event and you can see from the low rankings, that making the semis, and for two of the girls the final, this will mean plenty in terms of jumping up the rankings list and eventually direct entry to tournaments. (Bypassing qualifying).

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