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Pliskova vs Azarenka WTA Stuttgart live streaming, preview and tips - Pliskova launches Stuttgart title defence against globe-trotting Azarenka

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 25 Apr 2019
  • Karolina Pliskova vs Victoria Azarenka is live from Stuttgart around 8.00pm local time on Thursday (7.00pm BST)
  • Their head-to-head is level at three wins apiece
Karolina Pliskova (PA Images)

Karolina Pliskova begins her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title defence on Thursday when she takes on former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka for a quarter-final spot in Stuttgart.

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Defending champion Karolina Pliskova and two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka clash for the seventh time as the pair square off for a place in the Stuttgart quarter-finals on Thursday night.

This time last year, Pliskova arrived in Stuttgart without a win over a top 25 player and struggling for form and consistency. However, she found it in the German city, scoring three wins over players in the top 25, including Kiki Bertens and reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to power to surge to her first clay title at Premier level or above, beating CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets in the final.

Pliskova returns to Stuttgart in much better shape 12 months later. Indeed, she’s the only player this season (man or woman) to reach at least the quarter-finals of the three biggest events: the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami. Pliskova started the season by capturing her 12th career title at the Brisbane International and played some spellbinding tennis to reach her first Australian Open semi-final later in January, producing that miraculous comeback to beat Serena Williams in the quarter-finals before going down narrowly to eventual champion Naomi Osaka. Pliskova also made the quarter-finals of Dubai before reaching he last eight in Indian Wells, where she was upstaged by an in-form Belinda Bencic, while after beating Simona Halep in the semi-finals, she was upstaged by Ashleigh Barty in the final of Miami.

However, it must be noted again that Pliskova does only have one top 10 win to her name this season, and that was against Halep in Miami. For her much-improved consistency, Pliskova is still coming up short when facing her fellow top 10 members, and that is definitely a record she would like to elevate. In saying that, Pliskova won’t be aware or care about that at the moment - she’s playing some great tennis and operating at her most consistent level since she hit the World No. 1 ranking in 2017, which was on the back of winning Cincinnati and the U.S. Open the previous season, along with a tremendous start to 2017 where she won titles in Brisbane and Doha, along with Eastbourne.


Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka is competing in Stuttgart for the first time since 2012 - the year she made the final, beating Agneiszka Radwanska before going down to Maria Sharapova. Azarenka also made the semi-finals on her Stuttgart debut back in 2008, losing to Nadia Petrova, while her participation at the tournament this year is a tremendous effort in itself when you consider she was representing Belarus in the Fed Cup semi-finals against Australia in Brisbane over the weekend. Azarenka claimed her first singles win in the competition since 2016 when she beat Sam Stosur in her first singles rubber, but she couldn’t overcome in-form Miami champion Ash Barty, losing in straight sets, while Barty and Stosur proved too strong in the decisive doubles rubber as they beat Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka to advance into the final.

Azarenka got the first flight out of Brisbane and arrived in Stuttgart almost 24 hours later, and before she knew it, the two-time Australian Open champion was playing her first match, taking on old rival Vera Zvonareva for the first time since 2011. Still suffering from jet lag and barely any match practice on clay, Azarenka produced a great performance to come away with a 7-5 6-4 win, which was a super effort when you consider all of her travel and the swift surface transition from hard to clay.

"I have no idea right now of the time or what's happening," Azarenka said after her win, referring to her globe-trotting of the last few days. "The flight from Australia was so long I felt like it was never going to end.
"It was a huge challenge for me today and I'm very happy with the way I handled it," she said. "I was not really expecting too much from myself today in terms of tennis, because I literally played [only] 30 minutes on clay, but I did expect to give my best effort."

Azarenka, who is still ranked outside the top 50, is trying to build on a promising run to the final in Monterrey at the start of the month, where unfortunately she was forced to retire with injury. Back to full fitness, Azarenka will start as underdog in her seventh meeting with Pliskova, with their head-to-head level at three wins apiece. Pliskova has won their last two though, including in Madrid last season. Azarenka has had some good results on clay over the years, including a French Open semi-final and runner-up finishes in Madrid and Rome, but she isn’t the player she once was (not yet at least), while Pliskova has been in great form in 2019 and the clay in Stuttgart suits her powerful game. The defending champion should be moving on into the quarter-finals.


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Pliskova vs Azarenka WTA Stuttgart live streaming, preview and tips - Pliskova launches Stuttgart title defence against globe-trotting Azarenka

Karolina Pliskova begins her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title defence on Thursday when she takes on former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka for a quarter-final spot in Stuttgart.

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