The quarter-finals of the Prague Open were decided, albeit not without surprises, as second-seeded and defending champion Barbora Krejsikova was eliminated by loser Nao Hebino. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and anticipate every match. Who do you think will win the semi-finals?
WTA Prague Quarter Final Predictions
Magda Linette vs Wang Qiang
Head to head: Lynette 3-2 Wang
An exciting match between two veterans of the Tour for a place in the semi-finals. Lynette started the tournament with a big win over third seed Elise Mertens and confirmed her strong position by defeating Bulgarian Viktoria Tomova in a straight set. Wang looked strong too, making it through qualifying without dropping a set before a proper test from Rebecca Peterson. The former No. 12 knocked out the Swede in the third set tiebreak and had a much easier time against fellow qualifier Dalila Jakubowicz, losing just four games in a second-round win. The two have met five times before, with all of their previous encounters playing on hard Asian courts. Linette is head-to-head but Wang has won their last two matches in 2018. This will be a tough match but I see Linette as the favourite here. The match can definitely go either way.
Prediction: Linette in 3
Marie Bozkova vs Oksana Selekhmeteva
Face to face: first meeting
Bozkova was a strong contender in her first two matches. The Czech faced some adversity and struggled a bit in the second set with her first-round victory over Senja Krause but only lost three matches against 18-year-old Dominika Salkova. Selekmeteva, who is still number one after Bozkova with more than 100 places, should be the most challenging opponent by far. The young Russian came through the playoffs, including a big win over Nao Hibino, before knocking out fourth seed Sorana Kirstia. The 19-year-old followed up the surprise with a three-set victory over Chloe Paquet in the second round. Selekhmeteva will be a tricky opponent but I still see Bozkova as the favorite here, picking the finalist from the bottom half.
Prediction: Buzkova at 2
Now Hibino vs Linda Noskova
Face to face: first meeting
Regardless of the quarter-final outcome, Hibino had already had a great week. The 27-year-old entered the main draw as a lucky loser after losing to Oksana Selekhmeteva. Hibino got a second chance and seized it, and let Mihaela Pozarnescu Only four matches in the first round. The Japanese then faced defending champion and second seed Barbora Krejsikova. The Czech advanced 6-3 5-3, but Hibino returned and won the second set, the tiebreak, and won the third set 6-3. The Japanese player has not only had one of the best wins of her career so far, but she is now certain to be back in the top 200 again after a two month absence.
17-year-old Noskova, who has now won by one margin out of the top 100, is also running an impressive tournament. The young Czech had a set and breakup against Natalia Vekhlyantseva in the first round when the Russian withdrew from the match. Noskova got a featured win in the second round, defeating Alize Cornet. The match reached the third set tiebreak in which the 17-year-old won 9-7. This will be a fun match between a strong experienced player against raw talent and the fans behind her. Both have to recover from three tough referees but I see Noskova winning here and getting her top 100 appearances on Monday.
Prediction: Noskova at 2
Annette Kontaveit vs Anastasia Potapova
Head-to-head: Kontaveit 2-0 Potapova
After losing in the final in Hamburg last week, Kontaveit is looking for a comeback The second title of the season. With Barbora Krejcikova out, the Estonian is the frontrunner to leave Prague with a trophy. After a 6-0, 6-1 win over Ekaterin Gorgodze, Kontaveit had a slightly tougher time against Junior French Open Champion Lucy Havlikova, although the world number two remained in control throughout the match.
Potapova, who lost to Kontaveit in the Hamburg semi-finals last week, also started with a solid win, losing only three matches to Wang Xinyu. The Russian faced a more challenging second round against Zhou Lin, although she closed it off in straight sets. Cho served for the second set at 5-4 and earned two set points in the second set tiebreak, which ended up beating Potapova 10-8. Kontaveit beat Potapova in straight sets last week although their hardcourt encounter in Moscow was much closer, with the 21-year-old pushing the Estonian to 7-5 in the third set. I see Potapova as more of a threat in this match than in Hamburg, but Kontaveit still has to win here.
Prediction: Kontaveit at 2
Feature image via Getty.