WTA Stuttgart Tennis Picks, Predictions: Our 2 Best Bets for Alexandrova vs. Zhang & Paquet vs. Samsonova
Matthew Stockman/Getty. Pictured: Shuai Zhang hits a backhand at the Miami Open.
- The WTA returns with a unique indoor clay tournament in Stuttgart.
- Tennis analyst David Gertler delivers his best bets for the opening day of main draw play.
- Read on for his best bets and thoughts on Monday's slate of tennis.
The WTA’s European clay-court season has begun! Top players have congregated in Stuttgart as Roland Garros looms in the distance.
I’ve found two spots on Monday’s slate of matches where value has presented itself.
Read on for two plays to think about from the slate of matches in Stuttgart.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Ekaterina Alexandrova (-250) vs Shuai Zhang (+182)
11 a.m. ET
Ekaterina Alexandrova played excellent tennis on the green clay of Charleston, making the semifinals of the event. However, Alexandrova lost comfortably to Belinda Bencic 4-6, 3-6 in that semifinal match.
Alexandrova only won 35% of her second serves in that match and allowed Bencic to win 73% of her service points. Bencic was only broken once all match. From the baseline, Alexandrova was erratic, a trait that we had not seen throughout most of her recent good stretch of form in Miami and Charleston.
Besides against Bencic, Alexandrova had been hitting with exceptional controlled aggression from the baseline. She has been playing within herself, while at the same time not being afraid to ramp up the pace and hit into tight spaces on the court. The Russian has also done a great job hitting her spots on her first serve, winning over two-thirds of her first-serve points in every Charleston match.
Shuai Zhang went out in the second round of Charleston in a close match against Claire Liu. Zhang lost to Liu 5-7, 6-2, 4-6.
Zhang, a player who greatly relies on her serve to get ahead in points, only won 44% of her second serves and faced 15 break points in the match, getting broken five times. Zhang is typically not at her best on clay, winning only 50% of her career matches on the dirt.
However, the indoor clay in Stuttgart is unlike any other clay that players see on the tour. It’s faster and rewards power players for their aggression. Zhang, with her big first serve and aggressive mindset on her groundstrokes, will greatly benefit from playing in these conditions.
This will be a tight, serve-oriented match. While Zhang struggles in slower clay conditions, she should be able to effectively play her game in Stuttgart. Zhang has struck the ball very well in recent matches and I believe that’ll continue.
With the margins so small, 3.5 games feel like too many to be giving Zhang.
Pick: Zhang +3.5 games (-104 via FanDuel)
Chloe Paquet (+178) vs Liudmilla Samsonova (-245)
12:30 p.m. ET
Chloe Paquet did well to come through qualifying in Stuttgart. Most recently, Paquet beat Stefanie Voegele 6-2, 6-3 to reach the main draw.
Against Voegele, Paquet won 66% of her service points and only got broken once all match. The Frenchwoman broke Voegele’s serve four times on the back of winning 53% of her return points. Paquet also won over 50% of her return points in her first-round qualifying match against Ellen Perez.
Paquet has a decent first serve and is solid from the ground. She forces opponents to try to hit through her, which both Perez and Voegele were unable to do. While Paquet isn’t going to blow opponents away, she usually doesn’t beat herself either.
Liudmilla Samsonova hasn’t played on clay yet this season. She will be looking to bounce back after an opening-round Miami defeat to Madison Brengle.
Samsonova will enjoy the conditions in Stuttgart, as her game is built around power tennis and quicker points. She has a big serve and very aggressive groundstrokes, often taking the racquet out of opponents hands as she blasts winners.
That’s not to say the Samsonova doesn’t have any patience on the court, as she still does have a career-winning percentage of 60% on clay. Samsonova even won a $60k ITF event on the dirt in 2018. However, she has refined her game to be best on faster surfaces, which makes the Stuttgart conditions favorable for her (as far as clay courts go).
Paquet has nothing to trouble Samsonova with. Her serve is fairly effective, but not good enough to give Samsonova too many problems. She’s consistent from the ground, but doesn’t have the big groundstrokes to pressure Samsonova often.
Samsonova should be able to get many free points on her serve and rip through Paquet from the baseline.
In terms of Elo ratings, Samsonova’s overall Elo is 308.7 points higher than Paquet’s and her clay-court Elo is 185.6 points higher than the Frenchwoman’s.
Pick: Samsonova -3.5 games (-120 via FanDuel)