Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, Preview + Prediction R2: (1/wc) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina vs 🇺🇸 Nicole Gibbs
The top seeded Elina Svitolina will continue her quest for a 6th WTA title in 2017 when she comes up against America’s Nicole Gibbs at the second round stage in Hong Kong on Thursday. Svitolina was somewhat unconvincing in her Hong Kong debut on Tuesday night as she defeated Zarina Diyas in a few tight sets. Svitolina received treatment for her right thigh during the match. The Ukrainian has won both of the previous matches the pair, both on a hard court and both in straight sets, more of the same seems likely here.
Two Californian natives will go head-to-head at the second round stage of the Bank of the West Classic on Thursday when CoCo Vandeweghe takes on Nicole Gibbs. Vandeweghe’s best has been very good in 2017, highlighted by a run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open and more recently a quarter-final showing at Wimbledon. Back at home in the United States, Vandeweghe will be hoping to contend for the biggest titles throughout the new few months, gaining momentum in Stanford will be important for Vandeweghe.
Main draw action at the Miami Open begins on Tuesday, arguably the most intriguing encounter of the day sees Yulia Putintseva come up against Nicole Gibbs. Yulia and Nicole have both made positive starts to the season, arguably the strongest start to a season for both ladies. This will be the first ever encounter between the pair and promises to be an exciting clash between two confident, in form players.
Yulia Putintseva has been refreshingly focused and consistent over the last couple of months ever since her significant victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the first round at the Australian Open. Yulia hasn’t done much wrong in season 2016, it has generally taken a top opponent to defeat the Kazakh. Yulia arrives in Miami after a good week at BNP Paribas Open where she recorded straight set wins over Shuai Peng and Kristina Mladenovic before being defeated by Serena Williams 6-7 0-6. Yulia really pushed Serena, particularly in the first set where the Kazakh served for the set on two occasions but was ultimately no match for Serena’s best. Yulia will be hoping for another good event to keep building on the positive momentum she has created in last couple of months.
Nicole Gibbs also arrives in Miami full of confidence after a great week at the BNP Paribas Open. The American came through the qualifying draw to reach the fourth round, her best result at a premier mandatory event. Gibbs recorded straight set wins over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Keys and Yaroslava Shvedova before being defeated by Petra Kvitova in a tight three set match. Gibbs came through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals in Monterrey in the week prior to Indian Wells, clearly the American is in good form, probably the best form of her career.
Yulia and Nicole look pretty evenly matched on paper, however I do believe Yulia should have the slight edge in this match-up. Both players are primarily good defensive players and are rarely the aggressor in a match, both are great movers and give very little away. The difference could be that Yulia has more variety in her game, playing with different spins and depth of shots. The slower, heavy conditions in Miami should favour Yulia. This will be a different test for Gibbs, she has relied on her opponents hitting a lot of unforced errors in most of her wins in recent events, that will not happen here, she will need to hit through Yulia.
Prediction: Yulia Putintseva to defeat Nicole Gibbs in 3 sets
Shenzhen R2: (6) Eugenie Bouchard vs (Q) Nicole Gibbs
The pick of the second round clashes at the Shenzhen Open on Wednesday sees the sixth seeded Eugenie Bouchard come up against in form American Nicole Gibbs. Bouchard just edged past Donna Vekic in her opening match of the season and will need to raise her level on Wednesday if she is to get past Nicole Gibbs who stormed through the qualifying draw and her first round match.
Eugenie Bouchard held her nerve to claim a crucial 6-4 1-6 7-5 victory over Donna Vekic in her first completed match since the U.S Open. After claiming the first set Bouchard’s level dropped and she found herself trailing 2-4 in the deciding set. Bouchard did well to maintain her composure and raise her level towards the end of the set to fight her way into the next round. Bouchard will need to be much more consistent on Wednesday afternoon, otherwise she is likely to struggle against an opponent who has been in great form.
Nicole Gibbs ended 2015 in style and seems to have carried that form into season 2016. The American easily came through the qualifying draw, dropping just 7 games in her 2 matches. Nicole continued to dominate in her opening round match in the main draw, thumping Tereza Smitkova 6-0 6-2 to set up a clash with Eugenie Bouchard.
This will be the first clash between the pair, it should be an entertaining one. Nicole Gibbs has been in great form however Bouchard will be a big step up in terms of quality of opponent. Bouchard will be relieved to have navigated her way through a tough opening round match and should feel a lot freer in this match. Gibbs will not be given as much time to dictate in this match-up and could struggle to adjust. I suspect Bouchard will raise her level in this match and claim an important victory.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Nicole Gibbs in 3 sets