It seems Laura Siegemund’s primary on-court strategy is to make her opponent feel as uncomfortable as possible. She varies from high-arching moon balls and screaming slapshots, to surprise drop shots and the even more unexpected fake drop shot forehand slice, a-la Roger Federer.
Because of her variety and unpredictability, Siegemund excels on clay. She’s reached three WTA finals (all on clay) and won two of them, in her hometown Stuttgart, as well as Bastad. Judging by her 2016 US Open mixed doubles triumph alongside Mate Pavic, she’s more than capable at the net.
On red clay, where having firm footing is crucial, Siegemund wreaks havoc. Below, she takes a ball on the rise—right off the baseline—just to hit a moonball. Most players would back up in the court to hit a high and heavy shot, but not Siegemund. By refusing to give up ground, she opens the door for an effective drop shot opportunity.
Her second-round opponent, Anett Kontaveit, competes with a much more traditional style, and she plays it well. In 2016, the Estonian was ranked outside the WTA’s Top 100. She now sits at No. 22 in the world, but according to her current UTR rating of No. 13, she still has some climbing to do.
Kontaveit is as clean a ball striker as they come, but don’t expect Siegemund to engage her in many standard baseline rallies. Factor in the extremely windy conditions in Palermo and this match has all the makings of a topsy-turvy three setter. Kontaveit and her superior ground game should prevail in the end, but don’t be surprised if Siegemund pulls off the upset.
The Pick: Kontaveit in three