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Garcia vs Vekic WTA Osaka Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Garcia and Vekic meet in Osaka opener

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 16 Sep 2019
  • Caroline Garcia vs Donna Vekic is live from Osaka on Tuesday, 17 September from 2:00pm local time/ 6:00am BST
  • Garcia leads 4-3 in career meetings
Caroline Garcia (PA Sport)

Former top-ten star, Caroline Garcia begins her campaign at the Toray Pan Pacific Open when she takes on Croatia's Donna Vekic in the first round on Tuesday.

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Garcia was ranked at a career-high No. 4 in the world at this time last year, but she ended the year at 19th, after failing to defend the points she had amassed from her sensational finish to the previous season, when she completed the Wuhan-Beijing double and reached the semi-finals of the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.

The Frenchwoman has slipped to a current ranking of 30th after another average campaign, where she has scraped to a 22-20 record. Garcia enjoyed her best spell of 2019 around the midway point of the year, when she won the Nottingham title (beat Vekic in the final) just a few weeks after reaching the final on Strasbourg, but there has been very little to shout about outside those tournaments.

She has made just the one quarter final away from Strasbourg and Nottingham, in Mallorca, and has particularly been very poor in recent weeks. Garcia has won just three of her last 11 matches, suffering opening round exits at Wimbledon, Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open, and going just one round better in Lausanne, Jurmala and last week's Zhengzhou Open, where she defeated Tereza Martincova before falling to Kristina Mladenovic. 

The 25-year-old has been to the quarter finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in each of the previous two seasons, when the tournament was still staged in Tokyo, but she faces a difficult task to get through the opening round this year, as she takes on the rising Vekic on Tuesday.

It was Vekic who defeated Garcia in the quarter finals last year- can the Croatian take down the Frenchwoman for the second straight season at this tournament?

It's quite amazing to note that Vekic has only just turned 23, as she seems to have been around for a very long time, and she has been on the tour for a while. The Croatian arrived the scene as a teen prodigy earlier in the decade, breaking into the top-100 in 2013 while she was still only 16, and rising as high as 62nd later that year.

Vekic lost her way a little bit after that sharp start, unsurprisingly, finishing both 2015 and 2016 outside the top 100. However, the talented Croatian has been on the rise again in the last few seasons, and appears on course to finally fulfill the potentials she showed in her early years. She cracked the top 50 for the first time in 2017, ending the year just outside at 54th, but she was at 34th by the end of last season, and is on the verge of breaking into the top 20 this year.

Currently at No. 21, Vekic has put together a fine campaign, the high points being runner-up finishes in St. Petersburg and Nottingham, and a maiden Grand Slam quarter final at the US Open. She has also reached semi-finals in Brisbane, Acapulco and San Jose, and also notably, the fourth round at the French Open.

This is her first tournament since the US Open, where she took out Richel Hogenkamp, Kaia Kanepi, Yulia Putintseva and Julia Goerges before falling to Belinda Bencic. She made the semi-finals in Tokyo last year, beating an all-star cast that includes Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta and Garcia, and she will hope for a similar run this year as she begins her campaign against Garcia on Tuesday.

Vekic and Garcia have split their four tour-level meetings, but Garcia has a 4-3 lead in all of their career meetings. Both ladies are naturally aggressive players, with Vekic being the more powerful, especially off the serve and forehand wing, and Garcia the more athletic, and generally more balanced of the two.

I'd probably lean towards Garcia if both players are playing well, but the Frenchwoman has been out of sorts in recent weeks, while Vekic is coming off a career-best run at the US Open. The Croatian is the woman in form, and starts as favourite.

Caroline Garcia vs Donna Vekic is live from Osaka on Tuesday, 17 September from 2:00pm local time/ 6:00am BST

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Garcia vs Vekic WTA Osaka Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Garcia and Vekic meet in Osaka opener

Carolina Garcia and Donna Vekic meet on Tuesday with a spot in the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on the line. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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