As a new week comes about on the tour, we have new events including one that is making its debut on the WTA Tour with the Ladies Open Lugano taking place in Lugano, Switzerland. It has attracted a reasonable field for an international event with top twenty players Kristina Mladenovic and Elise Mertens as well as some rising stars with Anett Kontaveit and Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Kristina Mladenovic (1) v Qualifier
Laura Siegemund v Qualifier
Qualifier v Stefanie Voegele (WC)
Jil Belen Teichmann (WC) v Alize Cornet (6)
This top section of the draw is headlined by the top seed at this event, Kristina Mladenovic, but she has been handed a tough road with quite a few tricky players in her path. Her potential second-round opponent is Laura Siegemund and she is fantastic clay court player but has only recently returned to the tour after surgery, so I am not sure if she has had enough practice in a match environment to go toe-to-toe with Mladenovic yet. Then on the other half of this section, we have some Swiss wildcards along with another French seed in the form Alize Cornet. I cannot see the Swiss players doing too well in this section but Stefanie Voegele does have a chance because she does have some experience on the clay seeing she has made the third round of the French Open before. I think the safe bet would be to go with Cornet out of these three because she is more match fit and she had a good week in on the clay Charleston last week as she caused the upset over top ten player and countrywoman Caroline Garcia. I think we will see a hard-fought third round between Mladenovic and Cornet but in the end, I see the top seed getting the job done and reaching the semifinals.
Alison Van Uytvanck (9) v Oceane Dodin
Kristyna Pliskova v Camila Giorgi
Su-Wei Hsieh v Polana Hercog
Aryna Sabalenka v Mihaela Buzarnescu (7)
This section of the draw is full of players that are having a run of good form and could easily carry that form through to this event and I would, in particular, be watching some of the unseeded players to at least reach the quarterfinals. Funnily enough, the ninth seed Alison Van Uytvanck at the top of this section would be low on my list of contenders to make it out of this section as I have not seen anything from her in recent weeks to suggest she can beat some of these players. She has Oceane Dodin, who came really close to getting an upset over Simona Halep in Miami a couple of weeks ago, in the first round but I would be watching her potential second-round opponents Kristyna Pliskova or Camila Giorgi. Both of those women had good runs in Charleston last week and have a game that can blow any opponent off the court. There is another very exciting first round between Aryna Sabalenka and Mihaela Buzarnescu and I do believe the winner of this match could go on a very deep run here. I would give Buzarnescu the edge in that match because her game does translate better on the clay but she could struggle against Su-Wei Hsieh, who has had a stellar season thus far and she can be dangerous to any opponent on any given day. This is a tough one to pick due to the quality of the players but I have Buzarnescu making the semifinals after a quarterfinal win over Giorgi.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (8) v Qualifier
Kirsten Flipkens v Carina Witthoeft
Qualifier v Viktorija Golubic
Qualifier v Anett Kontaveit (4)
This is probably the weakest section of the draw and that is predominately due to the two seeds not having the best clay court pedigree. The seed at the top of this section Aliaksandra Sasnovich has posted good results on clay before so she is in with a chance but she has a tough second round in Kirsten Flipkens or Carina Witthoeft. Neither of those women is particularly consistent but if they are feeling good, they can get hot and go on a run. I would particularly be looking at Witthoeft because Flipkens and Sasnovich are more crafty and the German has the ability to hit through players like that if she’s feeling it. I would not be expecting big things from Anett Kontaveit this week because I don’t think she loves the clay because it does not reward her power game so she might not be as confident as usual which give home favourite Victorija Golubic, who has won a title on clay before, the chance for an upset. This is a tough one to pick because no one is jumping out but I have Witthoeft reaching the semifinals with her heavy hitting getting her a quarterfinal win over Golubic.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (5) v Mona Barthel
Donna Vekic v Qualifier
Marketa Vondrousova v Yulia Putintseva
Mandy Minella v Elise Mertens (2)
I would say this is the toughest section of the draw because so many of the women in here are serious title contenders with many of them having clay court pedigree. Up the top of this section, we have Svetlana Kuznetsova, who I would normally predict to make it through this section but she has failed to win a match this season as she makes her comeback from a wrist injury. This is a rotten draw for her as attempts to get her first win of the comeback under her belt because Mona Barthel is good on clay and has the sort of game that will keep Kuznetsova moving and test her physically. She then has a second round with Donna Vekic but if Kuznetsova makes it to that, I would favour the Russian because I do not think that Vekic has enough weapons in her game to trouble the top tier. Then down the bottom, we have the second seed Elise Mertens, who will be happy to be back on her preferred surface, but I don’t see her making it very far due to her tough second round with either Marketa Vondrousova or Yulia Putintseva. These two both are title contenders because, especially for Vondrousova, she is in form and they both can play on clay. That first round between them could be a good one but I would give Vondrousova the edge because she has the ability to do what Putintseva can do but with more power. This is another tough section to call but I have unseeded Vondrousova getting to the semifinals with a quarterfinal win over Barthel.
Mihaela Buzarnescu (7) defeats Kristina Mladenovic (1)
Marketa Vondrousova defeats Carina Witthoeft
Mihaela Buzarnescu (7) defeats Marketa Vondrousova