It will be a battle between youth and experience when Viktoria Kuzmova takes on Kirsten Flipkens in the Rosmalen semifinals. Flipkens, at 32, is past her prime, but has played some good tennis this week to give her a chance at reaching a first WTA final in over two years. Kuzmova is in just her second year on the WTA Tour, and is searching for her maiden title as a touring professional. Who will come out on top?
At 32 years of age, Flipkens clearly has significantly more experience than her opponent on the big stage. She has a 467-336 career win-loss record, though she has won just a solitary Tour title, back in 2012. Kuzmova has a 201-78 professional win-loss record, although many of these wins came on the ITF Tour. She is, however, coming off her first ever victory at a Grand Slam, having defeated Francesca Schiavone in two tiebreak sets at Roland Garros last month.
Path to the semifinal
Flipkens started off her tournament against wildcard Anna Kalinskaya with a comfortable 6-3 6-0 victory. She was forced to work a little harder in the second round when she defeated the tournament’s third seed Kiki Bertens, but she managed to earn herself an impressive 6-4 6-7 6-1 victory. Aryna Sabalenka followed in the quarters, and Flipkens fought out a gruelling straight sets win, reaching the semifinal with a 6-4 6-4 win.
Kuzmova’s tournament has followed a remarkably similar path. She started off with an easy 6-2 6-2 win against Russian qualifier Marina Melnikova, before facing a lot more resistance in the second round against sixth seed Alison Van Uytvanck. She narrowly escaped the second round with a 3-6 7-6 6-2 win, before winning another match in straight sets with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Antonia Lottner in the quarterfinals.
How do they match up?
Flipkens is a solid all-round player with no outstanding strengths but no glaring weaknesses. She has a good serve and regularly follows it into the net. She has a decent forehand, and tends to rely a lot on her backhand slice. Flipkens is a good mover, and generally excels on faster surfaces as evidenced by her run to the 2013 Wimbledon semifinals (lost to Bartoli).
Kuzmova, in contrast, is a little more enigmatic. At 1.8 metres she is able to generate plenty of power, and her aggressive and powerful baseline play enables her to finish points quickly. She is, however, equally capable of miscues and unforced errors. She has a powerful serve, and is able to earn herself plenty of free points with this weapon. Expect Kuzmova to do much of the attacking in this matchup, with Flipkens relying on her steady baseline play and her inexperienced opponent making mistakes.
This will be an interesting matchup, with two relatively contrasting game styles going head to head. Flipkens has over a decade more experience than her opponent, and expect her to utilise every bit of this. The Belgian will be content to spend a lot of time beyond the baseline, forcing Kuzmova to hit more balls in order to win a point. Kuzmova will be the aggressor for much of the match, but expect Flipkens' experience to shine through in a three set victory.