By Ros Satar at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart
- Anastasija Sevastova  v Petra Kvitova 
- Naomi Osaka  v Donna Vekic
- Kiki Bertens  v Angelique Kerber 
- Anett Kontaveit  v Victoria Azarenka
STUTTGART, GERMANY – The final eight are set for a super-hero themed race to the finish at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
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Anastasija Sevastova  v Petra Kvitova  | H2H: Sevastova leads 2-1
Anastasija Sevastova equalled her previous best showing in 2017 by reaching the quarter-final after defeating former champion and wildcard Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 but will face a two-time Stuttgart semi-finalist in Petra Kvitova.
While Kvitova enjoyed some down-time and only returned to the tour after reaching the Miami quarter-final, Sevastova started her clay court season on the green-grey clay of Charleston before heading over to Stuttgart.
Furthermore, she enjoys a slim lead in her head to head over the Czech, with Kvitova having got the last win, dating all the way to Eastbourne in 2011. A lot has happened since then for both players. Kvitova has two Wimbledon titles and started the year solidly by reaching the Australian Open final.
Prediction: Kvitova in three sets.
Naomi Osaka  v Donna Vekic | H2H: Osaka leads 1-0
World No. 1 Naomi Osaka was surprisingly introspective about her life since her breakthrough title win at Indian Wells last spring. She has not been particularly lucky here in the past but got her first win today over Hsieh Su-Wei, and will face Donna Vekic, who is making her debut at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix this year.
Both players are on the slippy stuff for the first time this year, and despite maybe not enjoying the surface, Osaka actually has a marginally better record than Vekic on clay.
Prediction: Osaka in two sets.
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Kiki Bertens  v Angelique Kerber  | Tied at 2-2
The clay court queen who made her move across other surfaces, Kiki Bertens, will face two-time champion Angelique Kerber for a spot in the semi-final. For Kerber, this is old news, and despite having been ill and not being able to train, much less adjust specifically to clay, her opening match against good friend Andrea Petkovic was at times a tense affair. They both seemed nervous at the start but once the second set started, the match settled into a far more competitive affair.
Kerber said: “I was really nervous at the beginning but for me it was like the first match after a long time where I was not really able to have a good preparation on clay. First match on clay. Then here, against Petko. So, it was not an easy situation.
“I was trying to find my rhythm, especially at the beginning of the first set. And I think we both played good. I mean it was few ups and downs during the match also at the end of the match where I got a little bit nervous. But I think this is normal. I mean I’m happy that I played like I played today after the last two weeks which are behind me now. And I was trying to really stay focussed and trying to give everything I could today.”
That is not to say that Bertens did not have her own challenge to deal with. Her clay court credentials have never been in doubt, winning her first four titles on clay, before scooping the WTA Premier title in Cincinnati as her first hard court title.
However, against the big hitting welcome return to the top flight by Belinda Bencic, Bertens ruefully admitted that her quality had been a bit hit and miss (perhaps with the emphasis on the latter).
“I fought hard today but it was tough. I think form the beginning I didn’t really feel the ball and didn’t also really get the rhythm. So, I think for the first one and a half set I felt like really bad on the court. So, I’m just really happy that I could manage to turn it around and, of course, my serve helped me a lot today.
“Just trying to hang in there and hoping that she was going to miss again and that I was going to get some more balls in. That’s also what Raemon [Sluiter] told me after one and a half sets. He saw me, and he was also a little bit laughing at me, like yes, I know you’re playing so bad (laughs) but just try your best, try to be as long on the court today as you can, try to fight for every point, try to still win this one and otherwise we’re going home.
“I was laughing also at some points, like okay how can I miss these balls. Sometimes you have those kinds of days and then it’s even better I think if you are able to win those matches.”
Prediction: Kerber in three sets.
Anett Kontaveit  v Victoria Azarenka | H2H: Azarenka leads 2-0
It has been an up and down year for Victoria Azarenka. From the tears of frustration at the Australian Open, to making her first final since 2016, only having to retire – it feels like the Belarusian is finally finding her feet – especially on a surface that she is not especially keen on.
The level of fight against defending champion Karolina Pliskova to book her place in the quarter-final was impressive and it feels like the two-time Slam champion is back on her way up. It has been admittedly a while since she has faced the young Estonian Anett Kontaveit, and certainly had the measure of her a few years ago, with their last encounter being in 2015.
A lot has changed for Kontaveit in that time, and she has found favour with the Stuttgart courts reaching the quarter-final and semi-final back to back.
Prediction: Kontaveit in three sets.
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