Sunday, 30 April 2017

Unseeded Stuttgart final

Andy Murray has failed in his second successive clay court tournament to reach the final.
In Barcelona the world number one sought and gained revenge on Albert Ramos-Vinolas for his Monte Carlo misstep, with a three set quarter final victory, but couldn't find a way past Dominic Thiem in a semi final which featured high class tennis from both players.
Murray is in the habit of losing opening sets at the moment, and that should be of concern, because while he is able to manage the disadvantage against most players, he becomes vulnerable against the best.
Fortunately at Roland Garros it is best of five sets.

Rafa Nadal has had a rather easier time in Barcelona, not having to play a seeded player in any match on his travel through to yet another final.  He hasn't dropped a set and after racking up 10 Monte Carlo titles, he is hot favourite to make it 10 of these too.
Thiem will certainly make him earn it, but Nadal rejoices in the clay and history seems to be wanting this.

Stuttgart will see an unseeded final, but it won't be a disappointment for fans.  The two combatants have played brilliantly throughout, proving over and over their competence on clay and how dangerous they can be come Roland Garros in 3 weeks.

French number 19 Kristina Mladenovic has already enjoyed a great 2017, winning her first career title in St Petersburg and achieving a career high ranking of 18 last month. That will change to 17 even if she loses the final here.
Mladenovic defeated Aus Open semi finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round, top seed Angie Kerber in the second round, then Carla Suarez Navarro in a quarter final, all in straight sets.
Then in one of the matches of the tournament, Mladenovic battled for more than two and half hours with Maria Sharapova, coming from a set and a break down to win a thrilling semi final  3-6 7-5 6-4.  

The Germans were sad for Kerber's early departure but have been over the moon with Laura Siegemund and her performances in Stuttgart this year.  
Runner up here last year, the former world number 27 has struggled in 2017 and was granted a wild card to enter the Stuttgart main draw this time, ranked 49.

However, once on clay Siegemund is a changed player and her results reflect that.
After dismissing eighth seed Sveta Kuznetsova in the second round, Laura went the distance for over three hours with second seed Karolina Pliskova in the match of the tournament, finally pulling out one of her best ever wins.

With hardly a minute to draw breath the next task was a semi final against Simona Halep, the fourth seed in a streak of hot form.
In a match where serve was broken 14 times in 22 games, Siegemund stopped Halep in straight sets to progress to her second successive Stuttgart final.
Siegemund will have a boost to her ranking irrespective of the result, and is now a real possibility of gaining a seeding for Roland Garros.

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