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Stuttgart 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Petra Kviyova is the defending champion at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart
Petra Kviyova is the defending champion at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart
ANALYST

Following a couple of weeks of action on the American claycourts, the WTA tour makes a transition to Europe this week. The 43rd edition of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix starts on Monday, the 19th of April, with the final scheduled for 25 April.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova leads a packed field in what promises to be a very competitive tournament. Joining the Czech in the main draw are Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova. Add the likes of home favorites Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic to the mix, and you have a mouth-watering lineup.

With the main draw action set to begin Monday, here's a look at the prospects of the top names in the fray.

Top half: Ashleigh Barty, Elina Svitolina and Jennifer Brady look to derail Petra Kvitova's title defence

Ashleigjh Barty (L) and Jennifer Brady are among the big names in the packed top half
Ashleigjh Barty (L) and Jennifer Brady are among the big names in the packed top half

Top seeded players: [1] Asleigh Barty, [4] Elina Svitolina, [6] Karolina Pliskova, [7] Petra Kvitova

Expected semifinal: Asleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina

Dark horse: Maria Sakkari

After a first-round bye, Ashleigh Barty will open her campaign against Laura Siegemund or a qualifier. The top seed would be expecting a tough fight from Siegemund, who is a former champion here in Stuttgart and a proven claycourt specialist.

If she comes through that match, Barty will clash with the winner of a likely second-rounder between sixth seed Karolina Pliskova and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Seventh seed Petra Kvitova finds herself in the toughest section of the draw. The Czech starts against Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, with the winner of another exciting first-round match - between Andrea Petkovic and Maria Sakkari - waiting ahead.

Needless to say, Kvitova will have very little time to find her stride if she wishes to survive the dangerous floaters that stand in her path.

Another former winner, Angelique Kerber, opens against a qualifier. However, Kerber could face an uphill task in the second round against fourth seed Elina Svitolina.

The German hasn't been in the best form lately and will look to make the best of the home advantage here.

Semifinal prediction: Ashleigh Barty vs Petra Kvitova

Bottom half: Sofia Kenin and Simona Halep face stiff challenge from in-form players

Simona Halep returns to action aftger a two-month break.
Simona Halep returns to action aftger a two-month break.

Top seeded players: [2] Simona Halep, [3] Sofia Kenin, [5] Aryna Sabalenka, [8] Belinda Bencic

Expected semifinal: Simona Halep vs Sofia Kenin

Dark horse: Anett Kontaveit

Simona Halep will look to start her claycourt season with a solid showing here in Stuttagart, but there are a few names she will need to be wary of early.

The Romanian is looking at a possible second-round match against 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova. Vondrousova, however, would first need to fend off compatriot Marie Bouzkova in her opening match.

Belinda Bencic, the eighth seed and Halep's prospective quarterfinal opponent, also faces a tricky path. A bunch of in-form players - Karolina Muchova and Ekaterina Alexandrova in particular - crowd Bencic's section.

Anett Kontaveit, meanwhile, will be fancying her chances of scoring an upset win over an out-of-sorts Sofia Kenin. Kontaveit, who has played some good tennis in 2021 so far, will open her campaign against a qualifier, which will give her enough time to aquaint herself with the conditions.

The winner of the possible Kontaveit vs Kenin battle will, in all probability, lock horns with Aryna Sabalenka for a last-four spot here.

Predicted semifinal: Aryna Sabalenka vs Simona Halep

Notable first-round matches

Andrea Petkovic vs Maria Sakkari

Petra Kvitova vs Jennifer Brady

Ekaterina Alexandrova vs Karolina Muchova

Marketa Vondrousova vs Marie Bouzkova

Prediction for the final

Ashleigh Barty vs Simona Halep

Predicted champion

Simona Halep

Edited by S Chowdhury
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