Stuttgart schedule of play:
Marrakech schedule of play:
Julia Goerges vs. Sorana Cirstea
Two of the tour's most unpredictable players will clash in this opening match. It is hard to believe that Goerges was a winner here in 2011, given how far she has fallen now. This place will bring back good memories for the German, but Sorana is looking good after upsetting Ivanovic in Fed Cup. It will be a tough match for the slumping Julia, but Sorana can be beaten. If the German crowd gets behind her, she might be able to cause an upset here.
Pick: Goerges in 2 tight sets
Ana Ivanovic vs. Sabine Lisicki
Looks like the long downward spiral of Lisicki will not stop. After being humiliated by Petkovic in Charleston, Sabine was left out of the Fed Cup team last week. If I had to make a choice, I would also pick Andrea over Sabine as she was absolutely horrendous. Sabine has got to be the only player who faltered so badly ever since a grand slam final appearance. She did absolutely nothing apart from the Wimbledon run, and she seems to be content with mediocrity. Ana will show no mercy here, and Sabine will almost definitely hit herself out of this tournament.
Pick: Ivanovic in 2 easy sets
Zhang Shuai vs. Polona Hercog
Zhang's clay record is not that spectacular, so she will be in danger of falling against clay courter, Polona Hercog. Even though she just returned from injury, Hercog always performs her best on the red surface. It is also quite impressive for her to maintain a respectable ranking at 69 despite not playing since Australian Open. This shows how much percentage of her points come from the clay season. Shuai will need to be patient and work out the points, something I don't see her doing.
Pick: Hercog in 2 sets
Sure win bets: Peng Shuai, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova
Upset alert: Zhang Shuai, Flavia Pennetta, Sorana Cirstea