In a rare all-teenaged final, 17-year-old Olga Danilovic takes on 17-year-old Anastasia Potapova in the inaugural Moscow Open final. The scale of the two teenagers’ achievement in reaching the final should not be underestimated, considering how competitive the draw in the Russian capital was. Whilst the more illustrious names, including recent Wimbledon semifinalist Julia Goerges, have fallen, Danilovic and Potapova have stood tall. But which of them will claim the title?
This will be the first meeting between Danilovic and Potapova. In terms of experience, there is little to separate them, but nor indeed does either have much to call upon. Danilovic has a career record of 54-16, whilst Potapova’s reads 57-29, however the bulk of those wins have come in action below the main Tour. Neither woman has made a WTA singles final before, nor competed in a Grand Slam, although Danilovic did defeat then-world #15 Anastasija Sevastova in the Fed Cup in February.
Path to the final
Danilovic began her campaign in the qualifying, where she defeated Vivian Heisen before losing to Paula Badosa Gibert, reaching the main draw as a lucky loser. There she bested Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2 6-4 in first round action, before beating veteran Kaia Kanepi 7-6 7-6. The Serb next beat top seed and world #10 Julia Goerges 6-3 6-3. She then ousted fifth seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who conquered Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon, 6-2 5-7 7-5 to reach the final.
Potapova, a wildcard, raced through her first round match against Viktoriya Tomova, beating the Bulgarian 6-1 6-1. She then accounted for Kristyna Pliskova, sister of former world #1 Karolina, 6-4 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals. There she faced her compatriot Valentyna Ivakhnenko and recovered impressively from a slow start to win 1-6 6-3 6-2. She then made the final when Tamara Zidansek was forced to retire with the score 3-6 6-4 5-2 in Potapova’s favour.
How do they match up?
The left-handed Danilovic has a lot of upside already evident in her game, with her forehand her best shot. She also used the one-two punch of a serve out wide and a forehand into the open court well against Sasnovich and it would be no surprise to see her return to that strategy against Potapova. But her accuracy, or lack thereof, when stepping to the line is a concern. Against Goerges she made just 49% of her first serves and she hit nine double faults against Sasnovich.
Potapova favours her backhand wing, and she used the shot to excellent effect against Zidansek for much of their semifinal clash. More than once she ran around her forehand to hit inside-out backhands which was reminiscent of Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki’s use of that shot. Her forehand, however, is somewhat lacking in penetration and like Danilovic she has struggled on serve and has already been broken 12 times this tournament.
Whilst both have impressed in reaching their first final at such a young age, it is Danilovic who has reached the title-match in more convincing style despite arguably having the tougher draw. This could well develop into a fine rivalry at the top of the game if their play this week has been anything to go by. But right now, particularly on the clay, Danilovic looks the more complete and confident player. Expect her to get the win in straight sets.