Date: 28 September 2021
Tournament: Chicago Fall Tennis Classic 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Chicago, USA
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Tamara Zidansek vs Sloane Stephens preview
Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and 13th seed Tamara Zidansek will face off in the opening round of the 2021 Chicago Open.
Zidansek's career has been on the upswing this year. The 23-year-old reached her maiden Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros 2021 and also won her first career title at the 2021 Lausanne Open, propelling her to a career-high ranking of No. 37.
Zidansek's results outside of the aforementioned events have been rather mediocre. She did, however, reach the quarterfinals of the Slovenia Open last week, so she'll be looking to build on that result.
Sloane Stephens, meanwhile, has had a rough couple of years. After her US Open triumph in 2017, which was followed by a strong 2018 season, the American has struggled to put together consistent results on the tour.
In 2021, Stephens' best results have been a semifinal appearance at Parma, a quarterfinal appearance at another WTA 250 event, and a fourth-round appearance at the French Open. She has shown flashes of brilliance while defeating top 10 players like Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, and has competed well even in some of her losses, but consistency has eluded her.
Stephens has tumbled down the rankings due to her tepid performances over the last couple of years. If she wants to make a deep run in Chicago, she will need to find the form that helped her reach the upper echelons of tennis back in 2018.
Tamara Zidansek vs Sloane Stephens head-to-head
This will be the second meeting between the two players, and Tamara Zidansek currently leads the head-to-head against Sloane Stephens 1-0. The two played in the final qualifying round of the 2021 Rome Open, with the Slovenian winning 6-4, 7-5.
Tamara Zidansek vs Sloane Stephens prediction
Both Sloane Stephens and Tamara Zidansek will be looking to end the season with good showings in the last few events.
Zidansek is the more aggressive player of the two, always looking to dictate things from the baseline. Stephens, on the other hand, is one of the best defensive players on the tour.
The American's superior athleticism allows her to chase down even the most difficult of shots and keep the rallies going. She doesn't rely just on her defensive abilities though; Stephens is more than capable of using her forehand to strike winners from anywhere on the court.
The 28-year-old has also shown in the past that she can turn things around after a string of disappointing results. Given her wealth of experience, we can expect her to survive the challenge from Zidansek.
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Prediction: Sloane Stephens to win in straight sets.