Top seed Barbora Strycova aims to make her second semifinal of 2017 as she takes on Julia Goerges in the quarterfinals of the inaugural Ladies Open Biel-Bienne on Friday.
The last two remaining seeds at the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne face off in Friday’s quarterfinals as Barbora Strycova takes on the big-hitting Julia Goerges.
Only two players ranked inside the top 20 have taken to the courts during what has been a quiet week, the last gasp of the WTA’s spring hard-court swing and a time for most of the top players to prepare for the major upcoming events of the clay-court season: World no. 20 Kiki Bertens in Bogota, and world no. 18 Barbora Strycova, headlining the inaugural edition of the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne in Switzerland.
Praise for the new event in Biel has been lavish from the players, but the seeds haven’t fared well, with five of the eight failing to get past the first round and a sixth, Carla Suarez Navarro, going out in three sets to Camila Giorgi in the second round on Thursday. And thanks to the vagaries of the draw, the two remaining seeds – top seed Strycova and seventh seed Julia Goerges – will face off for a place in the semifinals on Friday.
Strycova is looking for her second semifinal of 2017 so far after making the final four at the Apia International Sydney in January with a win over Caroline Wozniacki before losing to Agnieszka Radwanska. The Czech, who was ranked as low as world no. 189 in 2013 after she returned from a suspension for doping violations, has been climbing more or less steadily over the past few seasons, making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2014 and enjoying a very solid season in 2016 which included runner-up finishes at the Premier-level Aegon Classic in Birmingham to Madison Keys, and the similarly prestigious Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai to Sara Errani. She also made the round of 16 at the Australian Open and played a key role in the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup victory over France in the final, defeating Alize Cornet in singles and teaming up with Karolina Pliskova to win the deciding doubles.
So far in 2017, Strycova is a decent 15-8 and has won back-to-back matches at most tournaments she’s played. She made the round of 16 in Melbourne again, losing to Serena Williams, and in Miami, where she lost to Pliskova, but had a poor Middle Eastern run, defeated by Sam Stosur in her second match in Doha and her first match in Dubai, where she was defending runner-up points, to Peng Shuai. In Biel, the top seed has survived two quite tough matches: The first against qualifier Marie Bouzkova, a confident young woman whose performance belied her ranking of world no. 231, which Strycova eventually won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, and the second against Carina Witthoeft on Thursday. Strycova dominated the first set and indeed served for the match at 5-4 in the second, but Witthoeft reeled off three games and Strycova had to save set points before winning 6-2, 7-5(6).
‘I was playing a good match, I have to say,’ Strycova said afterwards. ‘I felt great on the court, serving for the match at 5-4. I didn't make it there, but Carina was playing amazing tennis and it was a tough game for me with all the long rallies.
‘I'm happy I made it through because the tie-break was on and off. My serve was also working well in the end.’
Strycova already knows she could be in for an extremely tough one against her next opponent, another hard-hitting German in Julia Goerges. The pair have met seven times in the past with Goerges leading the head-to-head 4-3.
Goerges, a top-15 player in 2012 currently ranked a decidedly more average world no. 46, is looking for her third semifinal of the 2017 season. The German, who won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart back in 2011, beat Pavlyuchenkova and Wozniacki to make the final four at the ASB Classic in Auckland back in January, losing to Ana Konjuh, and was also a semifinalist in Budapest in February, where she lost to eventual champion Timea Babos. Goerges also made the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open, beating a seed at each – Stosur and Suarez Navarro respectively – and she has cruised through the draw so far in Biel, beating Naomi Broady 6-4, 6-2 and Oceane Dodin 6-4, 6-3.
While Goerges leads the overall head-to-head with her higher-ranked opponent 4-3, their record against each other on hard courts is a much more even 2-2, although Goerges did win their only indoor match in straight sets – but that was all the way back in qualifying for Linz in 2009. Like Witthoeft did on Thursday, Goerges will attempt to hit through Strycova, but whereas Witthoeft simply couldn’t do it, one suspects the very powerful Goerges will have more success, although she will have to play a smart and patiently aggressive match in order to avoid being frustrated by Strycova’s defense and all-court game. Strycova herself will have to maintain focus, serve well and keep herself from retreating too far behind the baseline, because Goerges – an excellent doubles player – will sting her if she does.
Strycova vs Goerges is scheduled on Centre Court in Biel on Friday at 6.30pm local/5.30pm BST