TENNIS

WTA Prague Day 1 Predictions including Mertens vs Linette

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Despite the withdrawals of local stars Petra Kvitova and Karolina Muchova, the WTA Livesport Prague Open still has an impressive number of players, including defending champion Barbora Krejcikova or top seed Anett Kontaveit. The singles action begins, though most eyes will be on the doubles as three-time Slam champion and Olympic silver medalist Andrea Sestini Hlavackova says goodbye to her career, playing her final tournament alongside her former longtime partner Lucie Hradecka. As always, at LWOT, we will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will win?

WTA Prague Day 1 Predictions

Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Nao Hibino

Head-to-head: Hibino 1-0 Buzarnescu

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Buzarnescu raced to the final in Prague in 2018 while the tournament was still being played on clay. The 34-year-old has had more success on this surface than on hard-courts during her career and has only played one game on hard-courts this season. Hibino beat Rebecca Sramkova in qualifying but enters the main draw as a lucky loser after a loss to Oksana Selekhmeteva. After dropping out of the Top 250 for the first time since 2013, the 27-year-old will be looking to regain form for the rest of the season and hold her position for next season’s Slam qualifier. Hibino was the winner when the two faced off in Hiroshima three years ago and I see the Japanese player as a slight favorite again.
Prediction: Hibino in 3

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Marie Bouzkova vs. Sinja Kraus

Face to face: first meeting

Although she has never made it past the first round in Prague in her previous four appearances, Bouzkova should be considered a potential title contender. The eighth seed had a very impressive showing at Wimbledon, reaching the quarter-finals and taking on eventual runner-up Ons Jabeur. Lucky loser Kraus should be a relatively easy first opponent, with the 20-year-old Austrian beating Tereza Smitkova before losing to Anastasia Zakharova 2-6 2-6. Kraus is having a solid season, a 45-19 record and two ITF 25 titles to his name, but Bouzkova should be a class above here.
Prediction: Bouzkova in 2

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Wang Qiang vs. Rebecca Peterson

Face to face: first meeting

After a slack season in 2021, Wang has had some highlights this season. The 30-year-old beat Coco Gauff at the Australian Open en route to a third round, made the semi-finals in Guadalajara and managed a Wimbledon upset by Belinda Bencic. This week, Wang looked solid in qualifying, beating Kaylah McPhee and Valeria Savinykh in straight sets. Peterson has had a rather lackluster season with a win over Aryna Sabalenka in Adelaide being the highlight of his year so far. The Swede played on clay last week, so given the change in surface and Wang’s form since qualifying, I see the Chinese player as a favorite here.
Prediction: Wang in 2

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Elise Mertens vs. Magda Linette

Head-to-head: Mertens 3-0 Linette

Mertens, a Prague runner-up in 2020 when the tournament first switched to hard courts, has had a mixed season. The Belgian has largely struggled for wins on the tour but has reached the fourth round of all three Grand Slams in 2022 so far. Linette’s season has been a bit mediocre, a Charleston quarter-final and Roland-Garros upset Ons Jabeur, the highlights of her season so far. Head-to-head is key in predicting this match, with Mertens not dropping a single set in his previous three encounters. They played in three different conditions, indoor hard, outdoor hard in Tokyo and clay in Rome, and I expect the result on the hard courts in Prague to be the same.
Prediction: Mertens in 2

Main photo by Getty.

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