The Estonian, who reached the final the last time the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was held in 2019, dispatched Sofia Kenin, 7-5, 6-4, on Wednesday. A day later, Sabalenka conquered Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-4, 6-2.
According to the oddsmakers, the world No. 7 is listed as a slight -160 favorite. Sabalenka has beaten Kontaveit in all three of their meetings—most recently in Dubai, 6-3, 6-2. But they’ve never played on clay, so those previous matches could arguably be thrown out the window. All signs point to a close encounter, and here's why:
Kontaveit’s backhand is rock solid, so look for Sabalenka to attack her forehand corner when given the opportunity.
If the 25-year-old wants to pull the upset, Kontaveit will need to remain aggressive on her forehand. Here, she simply rolls a few balls in play and pays the price. It’s best not to give Sabalenka ample time to wind up her incredibly powerful groundstrokes.
So far in her brief career, clay has not been the Belarusian’s favorite surface, but there’s no denying she has the tools to succeed.
This match is a toss-up, as Kontaveit has played fantastic tennis so far in Stuttgart. In the end, expect Sabalenka and her far-superior physicality on the court to emerge victorious.
The Pick: Aryna Sabalenka