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WTA Charleston Tennis Picks, Predictions: Kvitova to Struggle in Clay Season Debut (April 4)

WTA Charleston Tennis Picks, Predictions: Kvitova to Struggle in Clay Season Debut (April 4) article feature image
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Michael Reaves/Getty. Pictured: Petra Kvitova hits a forehand at the Miami Open.

We are onto the clay season! While the Sunshine Double brought us fun hard-court tennis, the next part of the season has arrived.

I’ve spotted value on the green clay of Charleston, where the clay season will get started for the WTA.

Here are two bets to think about from the WTA Tour event in Charleston.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

Anna Bondar (-235) vs Arianne Hartono (+182)

11:30 a.m. ET

While Anna Bondar did well in Miami to beat Caroline Garcia (although via retirement) and get a set off of Danielle Collins, the Hungarian is at her best on clay.

Bondar’s career record on clay is 221-97 and she went 45-16 last season. In addition, 11 of Bondar’s 13 career titles were on the clay, including all three last season.

Bondar beat impressive players such as Anna Kalinskaya, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (twice), and Clara Burel on the dirt last season. Her forehand is heavy and she hits with consistent depth. Bondar does a great job of not getting pushed behind the baseline and she dictates play well.

Arianne Hartono made some noise when she qualified for the Australian Open and took a set off of Amanda Anisimova in the first round. However, since Hartono’s qualifying campaign, she has lost five of six matches.

Hartono does have a 60% winning percentage on clay over the course of her career, including a 23-15 record last season. But in stark contrast to Bondar, Hartono has only made two career finals on clay, losing them both.

The Dutchwoman plays aggressively from the ground and tries to control the baseline with her big groundstrokes. However, Hartono doesn’t play with a ton of margin and she isn’t very consistent.

Given that Hartono is out of form, this seems like a prime opportunity for Bondar to strike. These two played twice last season on clay. Bondar won the first match in straight sets and while Hartono won the second match, Bondar was clearly fatigued.

Bondar is the much better clay player in this matchup, as she’s more solid from the baseline and has much more professional experience on the dirt. Bondar’s overall Elo is 183.3 points better than Hartono’s and her clay-court Elo is 238.6 points better than the Dutch’s.

Look for that to show on Monday.

Pick: Bondar -3.5 games (-130 via FanDuel)

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Magdalena Frech (+210) vs Petra Kvitova (-280)

2:30 p.m. ET

Magdalena Frech did well to qualify for Miami, although she lost in the first round to Clara Burel. With that said, Frech will not be too upset to get back onto the clay, as the Pole is 131-84 all-time in her career on the dirt.

Frech had a 16-8 clay record last season, including a win at September’s $60k in Prague that came without dropping a set. Frech’s consistent, depth-oriented game suits the clay well and she will not be an easy out.

A 6-2 record across multiple clay events in Charleston for Frech last season was crucial for her, and it’s easy to see why it happened. Clay-court matches will be more baseline and return-centric. In Miami, Frech won 48% of her return points over the course of the tournament, so she’s in good position to bump that number up this week.

Petra Kvitova  made the quarterfinals of Miami, but fell in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. It was the first match all tournament that Kvitova won under 49% of her return points won (she only won 27%).

Kvitova is a big ball-striker that can take command of rallies with her massive groundstrokes. She did start to gain some consistency from the baseline in Miami, although she has a long ways to go in that regard. Consistency is very important on clay, where it won’t be as easy to blast through players.

While Kvitova is 136-56 on clay in her career, she only won consecutive matches on the dirt twice last season, in Stuttgart (an indoor, quick surface) and Madrid (altitude helps big hitters). In Charleston last season, Kvitova beat Storm Sanders in her first match, but fell in the round of 16 to Danka Kovinic.

For her first match back on the clay, this isn’t a good matchup for Kvitova. Frech will draw out rallies and force Kvitova into plenty of unforced errors.

Kvitova doesn’t have the endurance or rally tolerance that she once had, and I fully expect Frech to take advantage. Given that Kvitova has looked shaky from the baseline all season and it’s her first match back on the clay, it feels safe to take the games with Frech.

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