The semi-finals of this week’s two International level events in week 21 of the WTA Tour are set for Friday in Nurnberg and Strasbourg.
And there will be a first time tour title for someone in the latter venue, as all four semi-finalists in the Internationaux de Strasbourg are currently without a WTA Tour crown.
This was after another day of typically odd results ahead of a Grand Slam, but we came out on the right side on Thursday when Karin Knapp defeated Caroline Garcia in three sets at a nice price.
The German-speaking Italian took advantage of a tired Garcia, who was pretty much cooked by the end of the match and was probably only too happy to head over to Paris for the French Open.
But with only Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina (who face each other today) of the eight semi-finalists across both tournaments having won a title before at this level motivation should be higher than normal at this stage of pre-Grand Slam tournaments.
Madison Keys 1.92 vs Monica Puig 1.85 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 14.05
Only Silvia Soler-Espinosa of the four semi-finalists in Strasbourg is over the age of 22 and this battle between the 20-year-old Puig and 19-year-old Keys will see one of them make a WTA Tour final for the first time.
And I have to side with Puig in these conditions, with the Puerto Rican being more at home on the clay and having defeated Keys twice already in their careers.
Monica as also shown the better form of the pair this week in my view and she achieved a great result yesterday in taking down Andrea Petkovic in straight sets, having lost 6-0, 6-0 to the German on clay last year.
Indeed, ‘Pica Power’ hasn’t dropped a set yet this week and her movement is much better than that of Keys, who uses raw power to gain her wins and it shouldn’t really be successful on clay when combined with stiff movement.
It was yesterday though when she overcame Julia Goerges in a thunderstorm-affected match in which the American was behind 2-0 in the decider, but won six games in a row on the restart to make her third tour level semi final.
Keys hasn’t been competitive in either of her two tour level semis in the past, but today should be closer, although for me conditions point to Puig as the likely winner at 1.85.
Back Puig to beat Keys at 1.85