The women’s edition of UTS2 begins tomorrow for the final four. Can the 13-year-old prodigy pull off the unimaginable and claim the crown?
Patrick Mouratoglou‘s Ultimate Tennis Showdown has been a major success. From the 5-week inaugural event to the beginning of UTS2, it’s attracted a massive audience across all parts of the globe. 4 female stars are now set to take a shot at the crown with a two-day final four showdown at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, France.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (The Thunder) is the headliner for the event. The current World #30 and 6-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist has slipped from her previous years as a perennial top-20 player but has gotten a second wind in the last two years; she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in both of the last two years and also reached the finals of two Premier events(worth 470 points) at the Kremlin Cup and the Pan Pacific Open. Pavlyuchenkova is an 11-time winner on tour with her biggest wins coming back in 2014 at two Premier-level events.
World #39 Ons Jabeur (The Warrior) has a bright future on tour and put together a solid last 52 weeks. She was off to a hot start to the year before the shutdown, advancing to the Australian Open and Dubai Championship (Premier 5- 900 points) quarterfinals. Her best result came in 2018, as she reached the finals of the Kremlin Cup (losing to Daria Kasatkina). She’s going to be a major threat this weekend as the hottest player in the event.
Homegrown Alize Cornet (The Volcano) has arguably had the most successful career as a whole despite never reaching a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Cornet had a storybook 2014 campaign as she took down Serena Williams in the 2nd round of the Wimbledon Championships. She added on a trip to the Dubai final and a victory in the BNP Paribas Katowice Open (International level – 280 points). She’s been solid throughout her whole career and could make some noise tomorrow if all of the pieces fall into place at the right time.
The final entry of the list is the 13-year-old prodigy, Brenda Fruhvirtova (aptly named “The Prodigy). She’s been a force on the ITF girls circuit as the defending ITF World Tour Champion at just age 12 (she didn’t drop a set!). In 2020, she’s 12-0 and the victor of two tournaments so far (Janauary’s Les Petit As Girls 14 and February’s Kungens Kanna 14 in Sweden). In her 12 matches, she dropped only two sets and didn’t lose a set in her Les Petit As title victory. The way her game looks, it won’t be long before she’s a perennial champion on the professional tour.
Day 1 match schedule and predictions
Match #1: The Volcano (Alize Cornet) vs The Prodigy (Brenda Fruhvirtova)
It’s going to be crucial for the young prodigy to get off to a fast start. Although both players haven’t played the UTS rules before, Cornet has the 15 years of WTA Tour experience of adapting quickly to different situations. Fruhvirtova has a vicious backhand that can be placed anywhere on the court; she’ll need to use it consistently and effectively in order to gain the upper hand over Cornet.
Cornet does have the perfect skill set to complement the young star’s power and placement. Her court coverage is well above average and is one of the premier pieces of her game. Her forehand is also very effective and could be a dangerous move if Fruhvirtova plays to it too often.
Both players do have very good defensive skills. It’s going to be a very close match that will be decided on the 13-year-old’s ability to settle in. Unfortunetely, Cornet will take the advantage quickly and take the match.
Match #2: The Warrior (Ons Jabeur) vs The Thunder (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova)
Jabeur is going to be my pick to win the tournament. Her effortless power and sizzling groundstrokes are exactly what is needed to succeed at this event. She’s also been the hottest player of the group so far in 2020 and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down heading into the two-day semifinals.
Pavlyuchenkova has great court coverage and plays exceptionally up at the net (she reached a career-high 21st in doubles back in 2013). It isn’t a great fir for this tournament, however, as seen with Dustin Brown and his serve-and-volley approach. Pavlyuchenkova will have to win this match from the baseline; it puts her at a disadvantage and will force her to play on the defensive end for most of the match.
The UTS2 Women’s semifinal begins at 9:45 PM CEST (3:45 PM EST).