We are just five days away from the start of the 2023 French Open as 32 women descend upon Rabat, Morocco, for a final WTA lead-up event ahead of the second Slam of the season. The Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem may not have the most star-studded field, but intriguing matchups should lend itself to some terrific tennis. No. 2 seed Sloane Stephens takes on former top 25 Hungarian Timea Babos in what should be an excellent Round of 16 battle. We have the preview and prediction for that match and all other happenings around the grounds of Rabat. But who will advance?
WTA Rabat Day 4 Predictions
Mayar Sherif vs Julia Riera
Head-to-Head: first meeting
No. 3 seed Mayar Sherif squares off against 20-year-old Julia Riera in the second round in Rabat. Sherif is 7-3 this clay season with three wins over top-35 players. She reached a career-high ranking of world No. 43 earlier this month and is playing confidently. Her young Argentine opponent has been a clay-court ringer on the ITF tour. This year, Riera is 32-9 on the dirt and has won 18 of her last 19 matches. The 20-year-old will put up a fight, but Sherif’s consistency from the baseline will prove to be the difference.
Prediction: Sherif in 3
Tatjana Maria vs Lucia Bronzetti
Head-to-Head: Maria 1-0 Bronzetti
Tatjana Maria took down Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-0 earlier this year in Monterrey. She will look to duplicate that result when she takes on the young Italian in Rabat. Maria won the title in Bogota and has played some solid clay-court tennis this year. Bronzetti, on the other hand, has been very inconsistent on the surface. I do not expect a 6-1 6-0 beatdown again, but I expect Maria to win this match in straight sets.
Prediction: Maria in 2
Yulia Putintseva vs Leolia Jeanjean
Head-to-Head: first meeting
No. 6 seed Yulia Putintseva will square off against Leolia Jeanjean for the first time with a spot in the Rabat quarterfinals on the line. Putintsevsa has had the better year, but neither player has shown much consistency in 2023. Jeanjean favors the clay as her best surface and should show comfortability in this match. That said, I believe Putintseva’s power will lead her to victory.
Prediction: Putintseva in 2
Sloane Stephens vs Timea Babos
Head-to-Head: Stephens 2-0 Babos
Sloane Stephens and Timea Babos will do battle in Rabat with a quarterfinal spot on the line. Stephens holds the 2-0 head-to-head advantage over Babos, though they last squared off in 2019. After a slow start to the clay season, Stephens won an ITF event in Saint Malo earlier this month. She will be tested by Babos, who comes into this match on an 18-match win streak dating back to April 3rd. Although 17 of those wins came on the ITF circuit, 18 consecutive wins are impressive, no matter the level. I expect Babos to push the American in this match, but ultimately Stephens should be able to overpower her in a deciding set.
Prediction: Stephens in 3
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