By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart

  • Karolina Pliskova [5] v Coco Vandeweghe
  • H2H: Vandeweghe leads 3-1
STUTTGART, GERMANY – Karolina Pliskova will face Coco Vandeweghe for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title

 

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Karolina Pliskova [5] v Coco Vandeweghe | H2H: Vandeweghe leads 3-1

After a packed field with four former champions who had wrapped up the titles between them since 2011 all exited early, we will have a new champion crowned on Sunday.

The last remaining seed standing, where eight of the Top 10 players in the world were gathered here, Karolina Pliskova seemed to be finding her groove now having maybe struggled at the start of the season with her trademark serve.

In fact this is her first final since winning Eastbourne last summer, and her first on clay since winning in Prague in 2015. She is the first Czech to reach the Stuttgartt finals.

On the other side of the net, Coco Vandeweghe has struggled to even get any kind of love for the clay – she is actually through to her first WTA final on clay, having reached the quarter-finals in Madrid last year. She is the first American to reach the final in Stuttgart since Lindsay Davenport won the tournament in 2005.

 

Path to the final

Coco Vandweghe [WC] Karolina Pliskova [5]
SF: Caroline Garcia [6] 6-4 6-2 SF: Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2
QF: Simona Halep [1] 6-4 6-1 QF: Jelena Ostapenko [4] 5-7 7-5 6-4
R16: Laura Siegemund [WC] 6-4 4-6 6-3 R16: Veronika Kudermetova 7-6(4) 6-3
R32: Sloane Stephens [7] 6-1 6-0 R32: Kiki Bertens 6-2 6-2

 

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Both have had at least one challenge but Pliskova has been out on the slick courts a little longer (eight minutes longer in fact) and has played just a handful more games than her opponent.

For Vandeweghe it has been an odd journey. Offered a wildcard after her agent made a mistake in terms of the tournaments she was entered for, it looked as though this was the last place she actually wanted to be.

However we have to wonder whether he reluctance to embrace the dirt is just a deflection mechanism to keep her expectations low on a surface that is clearly not her favourite. However, as a Top 20 player she would be exceptionally naïve to think that she could avoud it altogether and so really had no option but to suck it up.

She is gradually losing that prickliness towards it, and making her serve work on this particularly quick surface in Stuttgart.

Their head to head is fascinating – they have always started their matches with a tie-break and although Vandeweghe has had the measure of Pliskova on hard, the Czech’s one victory against her came here last year in the R16.

What we have seen from Vandeweghe is the ability to defend as well as play first strike tennis, but do not count out Pliskova in this regard. She may not be a fan of scampering around the court, but she can manoeuvre those long levers of hers and you would have to give her a little more credit on this surface.

There have been quite a few ups and downs here, and the home crowd have been spoiled with Angelique Kerber and Laura Siegemund keeping the title on home soil for the past three years.

Based purely on the clay pedigree alone, and the fact that the famed Pliskova serve seems to be back after a little early season walkabout, we ought to expect at least one tie-break in a tightly contested match.

Both have, in the past, been criticised for their movement, and clay is perhaps the most punishing surface in that regard, but again you might just have to give the edge to Pliskova who can at least produce more consistent results on the dirt.

Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.

Pliskova and Vandeweghe will play the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final at 1:20pm (12:20pm BST).

Main Image: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

 

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