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Kvitova vs Zhang French Open tennis preview, head-to-head and predictions

hannahwilks in French Open 04 Oct 2020
Petra Kvitova (Photo by Rob Prange/DPPI/Icon Sportswire)

In an increasingly wide-open draw, can Petra Kvitova subdue the tricky Zhang Shuai to make a rare French Open quarterfinals?

Kvitova vs Zhang is live from Roland Garros on Monday 5 October, 11am local/10am BST

One of only three of the top eight seeds remaining, Petra Kvitova has not reached the quarterfinals of the French Open since her semifinal run in 2012 – and she cannot afford to underestimate the challenge of Zhang Shuai if she is to do so on Monday.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

Zhang, the first Chinese player to reach the fourth round of Roland Garros since Li Na won the title in 2012, has been a tricky opponent for Kvitova in the past – their head-to-head is locked at 3-3.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Kvitova vs Zhang: Head-to-head

The head-to-head between Petra Kvitova and Zhang Shuai stands at 3-3. On clay, it is 1-1, with Zhang winning in three sets in Rome in 2014 and Kvitova winning their most recent meeting in Prague in 2018, 7-6(6), 6-0.

Kvitova vs Zhang: Preview

Much like the men’s draw at the US Open after Novak Djokovic went out, the women’s draw at the French Open is now wide open after the two big tournament favourites, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza, went out within 24 hours of each other.

Kvitova is on the other side of the draw, so would not have had to face those players before the final, but every player remaining in the field has to deal with an extra burden of pressure and expectation now and that very much includes Kvitova, who is the only seeded player left in her quarter – should she beat Zhang Shuai, she’ll face Laura Siegemund or Paula Badosa in the quarterfinals.

The Czech faced her first test of the tournament against Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in the third round, a real battle in which Kvitova trailed her fellow lefty 1-5 before clawing her way back in and winning 7-5, 6-3, although Fernandez never stopped fighting and played a very good match. What is unquestionably suiting Kvitova at this tournament, where she is yet to drop a set, is the way the slow conditions reward players who can hit through the court; the trick is for her to serve well enough to set up her preferred first-strike points, and maintain her balance of winners and unforced errors.

Zhang Shuai (Photo by Rob Prange/DPPI/Icon Sportswire)

Zhang knows all about beating Kvitova; she’s done it in three of their six meetings. The Chinese player was on the verge of retiring before an unexpected quarterfinal run at the Australian Open in 2016, and she duplicated the feat at Wimbledon last year; currently ranked world no. 39, Zhang was a runner-up in Hobart in January and got her first post-shutdown wins when she made the quarterfinals in Strasbourg as a qualifier. At the French Open, despite a 4-8 record coming into this year’s tournament, she’s beaten Madison Keys, Alize Cornet and French wildcard Clara Burel.

Both women know what to expect coming into this match: Kvitova will try to overwhelm Zhang with power she can’t match, Zhang will try to take the ball early to take time away from Kvitova, hit behind the tall Czech and do anything she can to disrupt Kvitova’s rhythm. It’s all about whether Kvitova can execute her game as well as she needs to in order to seize this opportunity. Given how well the French Open has gone for some of the top seeds so far, I’m backing Zhang to get the upset which is well within her capabilities.

Kvitova vs Zhang: Prediction