With the main legs of the Asian swing now over, a number of the stars of the WTA head of to Linz, Austria for an International level indoor event. Given this is an international level event; the field is very impressive, as it always is.
The top seven ranked players in Linz are all ranked inside the top 30, with a couple of players vying for the finals few spots in Sofia and also for the alternate spots in Singapore. One such player is wild card Sabine Lisicki who is looking to overtake Garbine Muguruza in the race to Sofia. A strong showing from Dominika Cibulkova will give her a chance to fly to Singapore as an alternate. Given a number of players that have already qualified for Singapore are struggling with injury (Serena Williams and Simona Halep), Cibulkova may well be called upon. Last years defending champion Angelique Kerber will not be in action this week, however former champion and last year’s finalist Ana Ivanovic will feature in Linz alongside fellow Singapore contender Eugenie Bouchard.
(1) Eugenie Bouchard
The Canadian will be the headline act this week in Linz where she will be looking to gain some momentum heading into her first ever WTA finals showing in Singapore in a couple of weeks. After a disappointing North American hard court season, Bouchard turned things around in Wuhan where she reached the final before eventually falling to Petra Kvitova in straight sets. Bouchard is however coming off a disappointing first up loss to Lisicki in Beijing. It is important that Genie has at least a couple of weeks this week in Linz to gain some momentum heading into Singapore.
Bouchard faces wildcard Mayr-Achleitner in the opening round before a potential second round meeting with Tsventana Pironkova. Bouchard is the in the same quarter as Sabine Lisicki, I’m sure Bouchard would love another shot at the German.
(2) Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic arrives in Linz on the back of a semi-final showing in Beijing. Ivanovic has won more matches than any other player this year and will be looking for a strong finish to the year at Linz and more importantly at the upcoming WTA finals in Singapore. If Ivanovic reaches the quarter-finals in Linz, she will pass Agnieszka Radwanska in the rankings and move to 6th.
On paper, Ana’s half of the draw certainly looks favorable. Ana will play Pauline Parmentier in the opening round and is then projected to meet an in form Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals (wouldn’t that be a great match). Pliskova upset Ana Ivanovic In their only previous meeting at this years U.S Open.
(3) Dominika Cibulkova
After such a positive start to the season where the Slovakian reached her first Grand Slam final, Cibulkova’s season has derailed towards the end of the year. Since Wimbledon Domi has a 3-7 record and was forced to withdraw in Wuhan and Beijing due to injury. Cibulkova will be looking to turn things around in a bid to claim one of two alternate positions in Singapore. Given the growing injury concerns surrounding Serena Williams, Cibulkova’s dream of playing in Singapore may well come true.
Dominika Cibulkova looks to have a strong shot at the reaching the semi-finals in Linz. The Slovakian will face a qualifier in the opening round before playing either Anna Schmiedlova or Jana Cepelova in the second round. Domi should come out on top against either opponent. Cibulkova is in the same quarter as Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who she has never faced before.
(5) Sabine Lisicki
The German was granted a wild card into the event, hoping to amass enough points to reach the Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Heading into Wimbledon Lisicki was 8-11 since then she has an 18-8 record including a title in Hong Kong and impressive wins over Bouchard, Safarova and Ivanovic.
Sabine finds herself in arguably the toughest quarter of the draw alongside Eugenie Boucahrd. Sabine faces the always-dangerous Karin Knapp in what should be an interesting opening round match. Lisicki could then face either Kaia Kanepi or Magdalena Rybarikova n the second round.
(7) Karolina Pliskova
Last year, alongside sister Kristyna, the Pliskova’s won their first doubles title in Linz. They became the first pair of twins to win a doubles title together. Despite heading to Linz on the back of a disappointing first round loss to Hercog, Pliskova heads to Linz full of confidence after a final appearance in Hong Kong and a title in Seoul.
Karolina Pliskova has been dealt a fairly tricky first round opponent, the inform Czech will face Kirsten Flipkens. Flipkens has won their last two encounters, both this year and both in straight sets. If Pliskova can turn that head to head record around she could face Mona Barthel in the second round before a potential clash with Ana Ivanovic In the quarter-finals.