The WTA 250 Livesport Prague Open is another top level hard-courts tournament this week alongside the action in a stacked WTA 500 event in Washington DC. First two rounds of main draw delivered some unexpected results, as top three seeds got already eliminated in their first matches played in Prague at the start of the week. The line-up of quarterfinals promises some good and even battles to follow with all the outcomes possible between the top 8 of players, who are still in contention during the week in Czech Republic. Some of them earned their place at this stage after some passionate battles and impressive comebacks during the tough and intense battles throughout the week so far.
Jacqueline Cristian vs. Kateryna Baindl (8)
The Romanian performed the biggest upset of the tournament just from the start, as she eliminated the top seed Marie Bouzkova during the first round's match played in the opening day of the tournament. The home fans could be really disappointed and shocked with this result, as Bouzkova was a confident pre-match favorite there, rated with an odd 1.15. The match was quite an erratic battle, as both players traded two sets between them with 12 breaks happened before the decider. The Romanian could even deny the third set, as she was leading 4-3 with a break after winning the opening set. Bouzkova stayed alive in the match by winning 3 games in a row, and seemingly took the control of the match in a decider, being the first one to gain a break in 4th game. Cristian performed another plot twist in this match though, regaining the advantage in the decisive moments, as she won 5 out of last 6 games to win a whole thing by 6-4 4-6 6-4. The victory of current world's number 122 was rated with an odd 5.46 before the match, so it's the biggest upset happened in Prague this week so far. Cristian followed her great win by a comfortable victory over the world's number 181 Emiliana Arango in second round, which gave her the advance into first quarterfinal on the WTA level this year.
Kateryna Baindl continues a good run of form, which started during the WTA 250 Hungarian Grand Prix two weeks ago, where the Ukrainian capitalized on a formidable draw and performed a run into final. After the switch into hard surface, Baindl appeared in Prague as an 8th seed and started her campaign with a notable upset over fellowcountry Dayana Yastremska. The former world's number 21 reached out the main draw in Prague as a qualifier and was rated as a pre-match favorite before the all-Ukrainian clash, but Baindl managed to take the victory with a score 6-4 2-6 6-2, despite being rated with an odd 3.08 ahead of this match. Jule Niemeier was her second round's opponent, but the German pulled out of the match after 5 games due to an injury, which granted Baindl her second consecutive run into quarters.
Martincova is one of the two representatives of Czech Republic in the quarters. The current world's number 109 was granted with a wild card into main draw and made a good use of it as for now. Martincova played both her previous matches as a favorite related to odds, but needed to come back from being a set down against the qualifier Gabriela Knuston in first round and against Yue Yuan in second match. Especially the match against her fellowcountry was a difficult task for Martincova, as Knuston who is ranked 240th in the WTA list, was leading by 6-2 and 4-3 with a break advantage in second set. Martincova won 3 games in a row to force a decider, where Knutson did not give up and had another chance while being 4-2 up on the pre-match favorite. Martincova raised up the level again when it's needed and won the whole match by 6-2 4-6 4-6. The clash against Yue Yuan, who defeated the 3rd seed Shuai Zhang in the opening round, has also started badly for Martincova, who lost the opening set by 1-6. The Chinese was not close to win the whole match though, as the Czech dominated two following sets and moved into quarters with a score 1-6 6-2 6-2.
Nao Hibino advanced into quarters as a lucky loser, who appeared in the main draw in last minute and used her chance very well. Hibino was close to fall out from the tournament once again in the opening round, but she turned over the match against Sara Errani in a great style. The Italian was leading by 3-0 in deciding set, having a double break advantage, but the Japanese won 6 out of 7 following games to move into second round. The much more comfortable straight-sets win over Viktoria Kuzmova in second round gave her the advance first WTA level quarterfinal in 2023.
The home fans could regret the outcome of opening round, where they lost their top ranked player, who was also the first seed of the tournament, but the best seed to still remain in a draw at the stage of quarterfinals is also the home crowd's favorite. Linda Noskova reached out the QFs as a 4th seed after handling the pressure of being a clear favorite in two first rounds. The 18 years-old defeated Elvina Kalieva by 6-1 6-2 in just an hour during her opening match, but the clash against the lucky-loser - Ankita Raina, was much more difficult task for the youngster. Noskova was rated as a strong favorite with an odd 1.09, but surprisingly lost the opening set by 1-6. The player from India had a great chance to achieve her greatest career's success by reaching out the quarters in WTA 250 tournament, as she has also started the second set from the front foot, quickly leading by 3-1 and even served for a match in 10th game. Noskova came back from being 4-5* down by winning 3 games in a row and forced a decider, where she gave away just one game to her opponent.
The Slovakian had also a tough road to the QF, as she needed to catch the scoreline during the second round's match against Xiyu Wang. Both the players traded two sets between themselves and approached the decider, where Wang started brilliantly and moved up into the 3-0 lead with a double break. The Chinese had two chances to serve for a match, but Schmiedlova came back from being 3-5* and 5-6* down to force a decisive tiebreak. Another big chance appeared for Wang within the score 6-4 in the 13th game, as she had two matchpoints, including one during own serve. The Chinese did not manage to clutch the match again, as Schmiedlova won 4 points in a row to perform a great comeback win with a score 4-6 6-2 7-6(6).
Alize Cornet (6) vs. Tamara Korpatsch
The French advanced into her 3rd QF of the year and second consecutive after last week's WTA 250 Ladies Lausanne Open. It's also the first advance into quarters on hard courts in 2023 for Cornet, who achieved this exactly once on every surface this year so far. This advance was fought out really hard though, as Cornet needed to play two three-setters so far this week. The first one was a battle against the young Czech player Lucie Havlickova - the 18 years-old ranked 228th in the WTA list. Cornet won there by 6-2 4-6 6-2 and advanced into second round, where she had set up the match-up with another super experienced player - Kaia Kanepi. Cornet and Kanepi delivered an amazing show, ended up after almost 3:20 hours. Cornet won the opening set after a tiebreak and was leading with a break four times during the second set, which brought 9 breaks in 12 games. The French could serve for a match in 10th game, but Kanepi came back from being 4-5* down to force a decider. Cornet was a superior force there though and secured the spot in quarters, where she plays against Tamara Korpatsch. The road of the German was much less bumpy, as she defeated the qualifier Viktoriya Tomova by 6-2 6-4 in first round and played just 4 games against Yannina Wickmayer in second round, where the Belgian pulled out during first set due to an injury.