WTA 2018 Kremlin Cup Draw: Preview & Analysis

Oct 18 5 min read

4:57 am

KAROLINA PLISKOVA on Flickr by Tennis Streaming under CC2.0

The 2018 Kremlin Cup will be the 23rd edition for the women and will be the last WTA Premier event of the season. Six of the Top 20 players will feature in the main draw headlined by World No.6 Karolina Pliskova. World No.1 Simona Halep was confirmed for the event but had to withdraw due to a herniated disc. Defending champion Julia Goerges chose not to defend her title, instead playing at Luxembourg. Pliskova and Kiki Bertens need to reach the semi-finals in order to have a shot at sealing their spot at the WTA Finals. If either one of them are unable to reach the final four stage, then Elina Svitolina will take up the last spot in the draw. Here is how the ladies are drawn at Moscow:

Top Half: Bertens, Mertens, Kasatkina, Pavlyuchenkova

2014 Kremlin Cup champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will face Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round at Moscow. The Russian was ousted by Daria Kasatkina in the first round last year. This is Pavlyuchenkova's first meeting with Tomljanovic and the winner will face lucky loser Valentini Grammatikopoulou. The Greek replaced Simona Halep in the main draw. Last year, Alize Cornet lost to Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the quarter-finals at Moscow. The duo will now face each other in the first round at the same event. Cornet will try to avenge her defeat but it will be a tricky job to accomplish since her win-loss record is 2-6 since the US Open. Vikhlyantseva, who was the semi-finalist last year has entered the main draw this year as a qualifier. The winner will face Lesia Tsurenko or Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Sixth seed Daria Kasatkina has failed to win more than two matches in a tournament in the six events she entered since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Kasatkina trails Tsurenko 1-2 in the head to head record, though the Russian defeated the Ukrainian in their last meeting earlier this year at Wuhan. Tsurenko makes her sixth main draw appearance at Moscow. Both player's best result was reaching the semi-finals in 2015. A third career meeting between Kasatkina and Pavlyuchenkova looms if both players are able to reach the quarter-finals. They are tied at 1-1 in the head to head record and both their previous meetings took place at Moscow.

Last year's quarter-finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich locks horns with Mihaela Buzarnescu for the third time in her career and the second time this year. Sasnovich has won both their previous meetings, which took place on hard courts. The winner will face fourth seed Kiki Bertens in the next round. Bertens makes her debut at Moscow and is likely to face Sasnovich in the second round against whom she leads 1-0 in tour level meetings. 2016 runner-up Daria Gavrilova faces Vitalia Diatchenko, who makes her second main draw appearance at Moscow. Diatchenko replaced Aryna Sabalenka in the main draw. This has been Gavrilova's worst season since 2013, winning 27 and losing 26 matches so far. The winner will face Johanna Konta or seventh seed Elise Mertens in the next round. Konta and Mertens are tied at 1-1 in the head to head record and will face each other for the third time this year. Mertens has enjoyed a career best season after reaching the quarter-finals at Tianjin with her 47th match win of the year. Konta, on the other hand, has a win-loss record of 2-6 since Cincinnati. Both players make their debut at Moscow.

Probable semi-finals: Pavlyuchenkova vs Bertens

Bottom Half: Pliskova, Stephens, Sevastova, Kontaveit

Russian qualifiers Irina Khromacheva and Vera Zvonareva face each other in the first round at Moscow. While Khromacheva makes her maiden appearance at Moscow, Zvonareva, who finished as the runner-up at this event 10 years back makes her 11th appearance at the Kremlin Cup. This is their first meeting and the winner will face second seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round. Pliskova's win-loss record at Moscow is 1-2 and the Czech is yet to get past the Round of 16 in her two main draw appearances. Irina Camelia-Begu and Yulia Putintseva are on a three-match and a two-match losing streak respectively. While Putintseva is yet to get past the Round of 16 in her previous two meetings, Begu is finished as the semi-finalist last year. The winner will face fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova or Magdalena Rybarikova in the next round. Rybarikova won their lone meeting at the US Open six years ago. Sevastova's best result at Moscow was reaching the quarter-finals in 2015, whereas Rybarikova is yet to get past the Round of 16 in her previous three main draw appearances.

Anett Kontaveit makes her maiden main draw appearance at Moscow and is seeded eighth for the event. The Estonian will face wildcard entrant Anastasia Potapova in the first round. The winner will face 2018 Linz quarter-finalist Kristina Mladenovic or wildcard entrant Anna Kalinskaya in the next round. From 2014, Mladenovic has entered the main draw of the Kremlin Cup each year and has lost in the Round of 16 on each occasion. Mladenovic and Kalinskaya have met once before and the feature took place at Moscow in 2016. The Frenchwoman won the match comfortably 6-4 6-2 and will try to replicate the result this year. Making her eighth appearance at Moscow, Ekaterina Makarova will try to get past the Round of 16 for the first time in her home tournament. The Russian will face Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur, who makes her debut at Moscow. The winner will face third seed and wildcard entrant Sloane Stephens who got a bye into the second round. Stephens leads Makarova 3-0 in the head to head record and is yet to face Ons Jabeur in her career. A third meeting between Stephens and Kontaveit is on the cards if both players can make it to the quarter-finals. The duo are tied at 1-1 in the head to head record and both their meetings took place this year.

Probable semi-finals: Stephens vs Sevastova