The last of the top ten seeds, seventh seeded Karolina Pliskova, and Madrid Open finalist, Kiki Bertens, will both hope to further the best Wimbledon runs of their careers when they meet in the fourth round the All England Club. Pliskova had never previously been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, but now finds herself the highest-ranked player left in the draw with a shot at the title. But Bertens is a dangerous and will have ambitions of her own. Who will come out on top?
Pliskova and Bertens have met only three times with Pliskova leading the head-to-head 2-1. Their first meeting was eight years ago at an ITF event in Glasgow where Pliskova won when Bertens retired trailing by a set and 3-1. Bertens had her revenge in 2013 in qualifying for the Paris Indoors, winning 6-4 7-6. But in their most recent clash, which came earlier this year on the clay in Stuttgart, Pliskova won convincingly 6-2 6-2.
Path to the fourth round
The seventh seeded Pliskova has had a fairly tumultuous run at Wimbledon thus far. After barely scraping by wildcard Harriet Dart in three sets 7-6 2-6 6-1, she upped her game to rout Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-3 in the second round. In the third round, her inconsistent play resurfaced, but she eventually was able to get across the line, defeating the 23rd seed Mihaela Buzarnescu 3-6 7-6 6-1 to book her place second week at Wimbledon for the first time.
Bertens play has been more consistent. She recorded easy straight sets victories in her first rounds of the tournament against Barbora Stefkova and Anna Blinkova, beating them 6-3 6-2 and 6-4 6-0, respectively. But the class of her opponent increased considerably in the third round where Bertens met ninth seed Venus Williams. The woman from Holland eventually prevailed in an epic, winning 6-2 6-7 8-6 to claim perhaps her best victory of the season and set up a clash with Pliskova.
How do they match up?
Pliskova's game seems tailor made for grass court success. The Czech is equipped with a powerful forehand and an excellent serve. When she is at her best, there are few that play the one-two punch more effectively. She also generally volleys well. What has held her back from grass court success is her movement. Though not usually an area of particular weakness for Pliskova, she never seems to have gotten to grips with it on grass courts and has looked uncomfortable at times even this year.
Bertens game, in contrast, is very well rounded, but she possesses no outstanding weapons to match Pliskova's. She does, however, move extremely well. In their matchup earlier this year in Germany, Pliskova was able to manoeuvre Bertens around the court with extremely well-placed and powerful groundstrokes, frustrating her opponent. But whether she will be able to rely on such patient strategies on grass, where she doesn't move so well, is questionable.
Pliskova has more power off the ground, a bigger serve and has the most recent victory against Bertens. Thus the obvious signs point to a Pliskova win. But her grass court vulnerabilities remain in spite of her improved results. Bertens has played much cleaner and looked more comfortable on the laws at Wimbledon and that will continue against Pliskova. Expect Bertens to win it in three and advance to her first Wimbledon quarterfinal.
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