Thursday, 28 February 2013

KL, Florianopolis, Acapulco: In form Asians


Patricia Mayr vs. Karolina Pliskova
Ayumi Morita vs. Luksika Kumkhum
Ashleigh Barty vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Hsieh Su-Wei


Venus Williams vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Olga Puchkova vs. Jana Cepelova
Monica Niculescu vs. Timea Babos
Kristina Mladenovic vs. Melinda Czink


Sara Errani vs. Kiki Bertens
Alize Cornet vs. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
Karin Knapp vs. Silvia Soler-Espinosa
Francesca Schiavone vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

Match focus:

Ayumi Morita vs. Luksika Kumkhum

Two very much in form players vie for a semi-final placing in Kuala Lumpur. Ayumi Morita has upset higher ranked players in Pattaya and in Fed Cup, while Kumkhum has also achieved stellar results playing for Thailand. Against someone like Kumkhum, Morita needs to be as consistent as she can be and hope Luksika misses. The Thai girl will go for her shots no matter the scoreline and if she's on, she will rampage you. I believe the crowd will be rooting for Kumkhum as she is from Thailand, and the crowd support might be what makes the difference.

Pick: Kumkhum in 3 sets

Monica Niculescu vs. Timea Babos

Babos faces the wily Monica Niculescu in this quarter-final. I see Niculescu as a benchmark; players who beat her are considered top players/players with prospects, and players who lose to her are just hopeless. It will be a good barometer to see which category Babos falls in. I would love to see Timea win but I don't think she's ready for it mentally. She needs everything to be working for her to win easily and that doesn't happen everyday.

Pick: Niculescu in 2 tight sets

Francesca Schiavone vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

2 players with very similar games meet. Will Francesca finally snap out of ways and start winning again? Or will Suarez Navarro continue her rich form and kick out the former French Open Champion? Schiavone is past her prime as well and I'm pretty sure this year will be her last year. Francesca can still string a couple of nice breath-taking points, but her consistency is lacking and the Spaniard will make sure to take advantage of that.

Pick: Suarez Navarro in 2 tight sets

Sure win bets: Venus Williams, Kristina Mladenovic, Sara Errani
Upset alert: Ayumi Morita, Hsieh Su-Wei, Silvia Soler-Espinosa

KL, Florainopolis, Acapulco: Venus struggles


Second round 
Olga Puchkova (RUS) d Caroline Garcia (FRA) | 3 - 6 | 6 - 3 | 6 - 3 |
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 1 | 
Timea Babos (HUN) d [4] Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |
[7] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d Tatjana Malek (GER) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 1 |
Melinda Czink (HUN) d Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) | 1 - 6 | 6 - 2 | 7 - 6 (3) | 
[5] Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d Beatriz Garcia Vidagany (ESP) | 6 - 4 | 3 - 6 | 6 - 4 | 
[1] Venus Williams (USA) d Garbine Muguruza (ESP) | 6 - 4 | 2 - 6 | 7 - 5 | 


Second round 
[4] Ayumi Morita (JPN) d Nudnida Luangnam (THA) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 1 | 
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) d [7] Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 4 | 
Ashleigh Barty (AUS) d Zarina Diyas (KAZ) | 7 - 6 (3) | 6 - 4 | 
[3/W] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 3 | 
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) d Ying-Ying Duan (CHN) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 4 | 
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) d Shuai Zhang (CHN) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 2 |
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d [5] Misaki Doi (JPN) | 6 - 4 | 7 - 6 (7) | 
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (AUT) d Qiang Wang (CHN) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 2 |


Second round 
[3] Alize Cornet (FRA) d Estrella Cabeza Candela (ESP) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 4 |
[7] Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) d Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP) | 6 - 4 | 3 - 0 |
Karin Knapp (ITA) d [8] Romina Oprandi (SUI) | 6 - 4 | 7 - 6 (2) | 
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d [4] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) | 6 - 1 | 2 - 1 |
[6/W] Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d Sesil Karatantcheva (KAZ) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 4 |
[2] Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) d Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |
[5] Kiki Bertens (NED) d Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 | 
[1] Sara Errani (ITA) d Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) | 7 - 6 (4) | 6 - 2 | 

Upset of the day:

Timea Babos (HUN) d [4] Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |

What a hammering Timea dealt to Scheepers. This shows that Babos plays well without the pressure and with no expectations. With her points almost all dropped, Babos is no longer trying to justify her inflated ranking and can swing freely. Scheepers is having a woeful year and she's not exactly young anymore. If the results continue to fail her, I suspect her motivation will wane at the end of the year.

[1] Venus Williams (USA) d Garbine Muguruza (ESP) | 6 - 4 | 2 - 6 | 7 - 5 | 

Venus struggled mightily against the talented Muguruza and only managed to edge her out by the slightest margin. It is an exactly opposite of how her sister Serena dealt with the Spaniard back in Melbourne, where Serena cruised without much difficulty. Maybe age is catching up with her and she's definitely not at her peak now. One has to wonder if Venus really believes she can win another slam because performances like these are more frequent, and players are no longer intimidated by her anymore. 

Luksika Kumkhum (THA) d [7] Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 4 | 

The fearless Thai strikes again as she powers her way past the Greek veteran, Eleni Daniilidou. Luksika is lacking in experience and maybe that's why she's playing with no fear, aiming for the lines all the time. Daniilidou is way past her prime and she must really love the game to stay active for this long. I won't be surprised if she hangs her racket for good after this year.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

KL, Florianopolis, Acapulco: Lost Pavlyuchenkova


Wang Qiang vs. Patricia Mayr
Karolina Pliskova vs. Misaki Doi
Ayumi Morita vs. Nudnida Luangnam
Luksika Kumkhum vs. Eleni Daniilidou
Zarina Diyas vs. Ashleigh Barty
Akgul Ammanmuradova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Duan Ying-Ying


Venus Williams vs. Garbine Muguruza
Beatriz Garcia Vidagany vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Olga Puchkova vs. Caroline Garcia
Monica Niculescu vs. Tereza Mrdeza
Timea Babos vs. Chanelle Scheepers
Kristina Mladenovic vs. Tatjana Malek
Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Melinda Czink


Sara Errani vs. Eugenie Bouchard
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez vs. Kiki Bertens
Melissa Torro-Flor vs. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
Romina Oprandi vs. Karin Knapp
Silvia Soler-Espinosa vs. Irina-Camelia Begu
Francesca Schiavone vs. Sesil Karatantcheva
Stephanie Foretz-Garcon vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

Match focus:

Akgul Ammanmuradova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Pavlyuchenkova is a mystery. After beating a row of top players in Brisbane, she lost her plot and went on a losing streak, snapping it here with a close win over Dushevina. Anastasia has all the shots and even though she improved on her fitness in Brisbane, it seems that she has regressed back to her old ways. If the Russian loses here to Akgul Ammanmuradova, she's in real trouble. Ther draw is wide open now with Caroline out and hopefully Pavlyuchenkova can take advantage.

Pick: Pavluchenkova in 2 tight sets

Timea Babos vs. Chanelle Scheepers

Timea Babos wins a match for once! She edged out a close one in her first round and now faces Scheepers for a place in the quarter-finals. Will Babos stand a chance? Definitely. Scheepers is having a forgettable year herself and with the correct attitude, Babos has a game which can blow Chanelle away. The only thing stopping Timea is her brain. Once she sorts that out, she will finally fulfil her potential as a tennis player. However, I do believe Scheepers will win this match by a close scoreline.

Pick: Scheepers in 3 sets

Sara Errani vs. Eugenie Bouchard

Sara Errani begins her defense of her Mickey Mouse titles here in Acapulco. There's not much incentive for her to defend these titles as she has already replaced them with a finalist appearance in Paris and Dubai. So, I won't be surprised if she isn't the dominant player in small events as compared to last year. Bouchard has a nice complete game and will trouble the tiny Italian. However, I believe experience will carry Errani through as the inexperienced Eugenie will commit errors on important points. Errani has to be careful not to overplay in order to try to compensate for her last year's result, or else she risks burning out by stretching herself so thin.

Pick: Errani in 2 tight sets

Sure win bets: Ashleigh Barty, Monica Miculescu, Francesca Schiavone
Upset alert: Eleni Daniilidou, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Patricia Mayr

KL, Florianpolis, Acapulco: Pure hilarity


Second round
JANA CEPELOVA (SVK) D [8] ANNIKA BECK (GER) | 7 - 6 (6) | 6 - 4 | 

First round
TIMEA BABOS (HUN) D VALERIA SAVINYKH (RUS) | 7 - 6 (5) | 6 - 7 (7) | 6 - 2 |
OLGA PUCHKOVA (RUS) D [3] KIRSTEN FLIPKENS (BEL) | 2 - 6 | 6 - 4 | 6 - 4 |


First round 
Shuai Zhang (CHN) d Aslina An Ping Chua (MAS) | 6 - 0 | 6 - 1 | 
Qiang Wang (CHN) d [1] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) | 2 - 6 | 7 - 6 (1) | 6 - 1 |
[3/W] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d Vera Dushevina (RUS) | 2 - 6 | 6 - 3 | 7 - 6 (6) |
Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) d Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 3 |
Ashleigh Barty (AUS) d Chanel Simmonds (RSA) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 2 |
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) d [8] Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) | 6 (5) - 7 | 6 - 1 | 7 - 5 |
[7] Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) d Yuliya Beygelzimer (UKR) | 2 - 6 | 6 - 4 | 6 - 3 | 
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) d Olivia Rogowska (AUS) | 3 - 6 | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 | 
Nudnida Luangnam (THA) d Saisai Zheng (CHN) | 6 - 3 | 6 (1) - 7 | 6 - 2 | 
[4] Ayumi Morita (JPN) d Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 1 | 
Ying-Ying Duan (CHN) d Marta Sirotkina (RUS) | 6 - 3 | 4 - 6 | 7 - 6 (12) | 


First round 
[1] Sara Errani (ITA) d Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 2 |
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d Eva Birnerova (CZE) | 7 - 6 (5) | 6 - 3 |
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) d Alexandra Panova (RUS) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 1 |
[2] Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) d Mathilde Johansson (FRA) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 0 |
Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) d Julia Cohen (USA) | 5 - 7 | 7 - 6 (5) | 6 - 0 | 
[6/W] Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d Grace Min (USA) | 6 - 4 | 4 - 6 | 6 - 2 | 
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d Mandy Minella (LUX) | 6 - 1 | 7 - 6 (3) | 
Karin Knapp (ITA) d Johanna Larsson (SWE) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 1 | 
[8] Romina Oprandi (SUI) d Alexa Glatch (USA) | 6 - 4 | 2 - 6 | 7 - 5 | 
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP) d Pauline Parmentier (FRA) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 4 | 
[3] Alize Cornet (FRA) d Catalina Castano (COL) | 6 - 1 | 2 - 6 | 6 - 3 | 

Upset of the day:

Qiang Wang (CHN) d [1] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) | 2 - 6 | 7 - 6 (1) | 6 - 1 |

What a hilarious result for the top seed here in KL. Unmotivated and lacking in energy, she flew all the way to KL to collect her appearance fee and scoot off to her next destination. What a joke this player is. If you're not going to give your best, don't even bother committing. Caroline is fast becoming the joke of WTA and she needs to get it together before becoming totally irrelevant.

OLGA PUCHKOVA (RUS) D [3] KIRSTEN FLIPKENS (BEL) | 2 - 6 | 6 - 4 | 6 - 4 |

A really bad loss here for the Belgian as she falls to someone who was double bagelled by Sharapova in Melbourne. Maybe Kirsten is feeling the effects of playing so many tournaments in a row, trying to play through the pain. However, she must be careful as she has been injured before. Another long injury break might just cut her career short.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Kuala Lumpur, Florianopolis, Acapulco Day 1: Flavia makes her comeback

KL schedule:

Patricia Mayr-Achietner vs. Claire Feuerstein
Vera Dushevina vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Aslina An Ping Chua vs. Shuai Zhang
Kurumi Nara vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
Alberta Brianti vs. Misaki Doi
Ayumi Morita vs. Cagla Buyukakcay
Marta Sirotkina vs. Ying-Ying Duan
Casey Dellacqua vs. Karolina Pliskova
Donna Vekic vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Yuliya Beygelzimer vs. Eleni Daniilidou


Melinda Czink vs Yaroslava Shvedova
Anabel Medina Garrigues vs Monica Niculescu
Chieh-Yu Hsu vs Beatriz Haddad Maia
Kirsten Flipkens vs Olga Puchkova
Venus Williams vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Adriana Perez vs Chanelle Scheepers
Beatriz Garcia Vidagany vs Nina Bratchikova
Caroline Garcia vs Maria Irigoyen
Garbine Muguruza vs Kristina Barrois
Shahar Peer vs Tereza Mrdeza


Flavia Pennetta vs. (7)Lourdes Dominguez Lino
Ximena Hermoso vs. Sesil Karatantcheva
Ajla Tomljanovic vs. (4)Irina-Camelia Begu
Estrella Cabeza Candela vs. Maria Joao Koehler
Arantxa Rus vs. (5)Kiki Bertens

Match focus:

Vera Dushevina vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

It's hard to reconcile this but Vera Dushevina was once a promising upstart with a stellar juniors career, the same as Pavlyuchenkova. Anastasia fared better in the seniors tour, breaking into the top 20, while Vera's career just never took off. One has to wonder how Dushevina got her juniors success with her god-awful forehand and weak mentality. Pavlyuchenkova has gone missing since her Brisbane breakthrough and although her form is suspect, she should emerge out of the the victor.

Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in 2 sets

Venus Williams vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

I will never forget the US Open match between these 2 players in 2002, where Venus ruthlessly murdered Mirjana Lucic with a double bagel. Well, Venus didn't have to do much as Lucic was just hitting the ball hard and missing it by miles. Fastforward to 11 years later, these 2 meet again. Venus is no longer the untouchable top player that she was and Mirjana has finally gotten her control back. Ever the fighter, I'm sure Venus will try her best even though she is not her peak form but she has to be careful of Lucic, who can hit a mean ball. One thing's for sure, there won't be a double bagel this time.

Pick: Venus Williams in 2 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. (7)Lourdes Dominguez Lino

Flavia Pennetta finally makes her comeback after missing the first part of the year. Even though she lost early in her previous tournament in Bogota, it's nice to see her trying despite her age. And when Flavia is playing well, it is a sight to behold. On the other hand, Lourdes' game of retrieving everything puts anyone to sleep, even if she is playing at her peak. Even though Pennetta will get a lot of balls to hit this time, I suspect she will run out of energy against someone as resilient as Dominguez Lino. Sometimes, tennis doesn't win. It is too early in her comeback but give her a month or so, Flavia will be back.

Pick: Dominguez Lino in 3 tight sets

Sure win bets: Shuai Zhang, Venus Williams, Irina Camelia Begu
Upset alerts: Yaroslava Shvedova, Shahar Peer

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Taking a break

Hi all! Sorry for the lack of updates here for Dubai, Memphis and Bogota. But the tournaments held in 3 different continents is almost impossible for me to update in Singapore with the different time zones. So I'll be taking a break this week! I'll see you guys again next week in Kuala Lumpur (won't focus too much on the other 2 tournaments).

Doha final: Surprise! (for real)

Doha final:

Victoria Azarenka def. Serena Williams 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3

Victoria Azarenka exorcises her demons and defeated the great Serena Williams in a tight match. She held up mentally and survived the second set barrage from Serena. Good signs for Azarenka as this could turn into an interesting rivalry. Serena was below par today but fought to the bitter end. She's obviously disappointed but she got what she deserved, the number 1 ranking. Let's hope these 2 ladies have plenty more intense battles ahead in this year.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Doha day 6: Surprise... not

Victoria Azarenka def. Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-3

Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-2

Sometimes, you just have to admit that somebody is playing your game better than you. Both losers are outclassed by their nemesis, both executing their similar games better then them. Azarenka simply knows when to step up and hit a winner, not like the other girls who go for their shots at the wrong time against Radwanska. As for Sharapova, Serena doesn't fear her and after their numerous encounters without losing even a set, Serena is free to swing hard. It is interesting to see that Sharapova has more success against Azarenka and Radwanska at least took a set of Williams in their last encounter. It's just a simple logic of a mismatch. Better luck next time girls.

Doha final:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams

Oops... Obviously both girls think they are the real number 1s as evidenced in the pictures above. Azarenka will be dropping to number 2 regardless of the result but will be eager to dethrone Serena as the top player. The Belarussian is just plain hungry at success and wants more of it. Serena accomplished what she came here for and judging by her performance yesterday against Maria, it looks like she wants more too. When Serena is playing at her peak, there is no doubt the American will emerge pointing her finger to the sky. The question is will she bring it. Azarenka was 2 points away from victory in the US Open final and she has the self-belief now. Serena just needs to continue dropping bombs on her serve and go for it on shorter balls. There's no stopping Serena, unless Serena stops herself.

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Friday, 15 February 2013

Doha day 6: Top 4(2?) dominance

Doha SF:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

You've seen this match-up for the past year and you know what will happen. Nothing much to say except, try to win a set Aga.

Pick: Azarenka in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova

Well, you've seen this match up as well for the past year and you will know the outcome. Nothing much to say except, win a few games Maria.

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Doha day 5: Serena back on top


Maria Sharapova def. Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-4
Victoria Azarenka def. Sara Errani 6-2 6-2
Serena Williams def. Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-3 7-5
Agnieszka Radwanska def. Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 7-5

Serena Williams def. Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-3 7-5

Petra Kvitova led 4-1 in the final set before Serena fought back to regain her number 1 ranking. You could see at the end of the match that Serena really wanted this and she obviously got a little nervous at the thought of getting back the number 1. Kvitova also played her part, playing her best tennis since the YEC in 2011, but came up short in the last minute. Good signs for the Czech despite her fitness issues. If only she sorted that out, she might have won this.

Agnieszka Radwanska def. Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 7-5

For once, Wozniacki was the aggressor of the match as she tried her best to outhit Radwanska. However, this is not her game and she wasted one set point in the second set as she overhit many of her shots. This loss shouldn't dampen Wozniacki though as she showed that she's capable of playing the aggressive game. She just needs to adjust her mentality and go for her shots when needed. With more practice, she will definitely improve as a player. One more thing, get rid of your dad please?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Doha Day 3: Woeful days for lower half of top 10

Schedule of play:

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Anastasia Rodionova
Timea Babos vs. Sara Errani
Nadia Petrova vs. Hsieh Su-Wei
Lucie Safarova vs. Christina McHale
Sloane Stephens vs. Klara Zakopalova
Victoria Azarenka vs. Romina Oprandi
Simona Halep vs. Ana Ivanovic
Roberta Vinci vs. Urszula Radwanska
Ekaterina Bychkova vs. Daniela Hantuchova
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sorana Cirstea
Petra Kvitova vs. Ekaterina Makarova
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Marion Bartoli
Samantha Stosur vs. Monica Niculescu

Match focus:

Petra Kvitova vs. Ekaterina Makarova

The bottom half of the top 10 is really crumbling as all 5 are struggling with form. Petra Kvitova won her matches in Fed Cup but it was very unconvincing. Gone are the days where she dominated with her serve and hard hitting groundstrokes. Her serve is becoming a liability now and her confidence is gone with it. Makarova suffered a shock loss to inspired Ayumi Morita last week but she did well to clinch the tie for Russia. I expect Makarova to pounce on this golden opportunity to upset the shaky Czech. Kvitova needs someone to tell her that she's gaining too much weight and needs to get back on that treadmill. Until then, she's just going to be a shadow of her former self.

Pick: Makarova in 2 tight sets

Samantha Stosur vs. Monica Niculescu

Samantha Stosur's matches in last week's Fed Cup was pure comedy. Her forehand was misfiring and resulted in ugly shanks. Her weak backhand was hitting the doubles alley and her reliable serve resulted in tons of double faults. Against someone like Niculescu who junks everything, I expect the spectators to get some chances of retrieving Stosur's shanked balls. The Australian's confidence is just shot, even more so than Kvitova's, and has just won 1 match since reaching the Moscow finals. If Stosur continues her losing ways in the clay season, you can expect her to drop fast down the rankings and be the true one slam wonder.

Pick: Niculescu in 2 tight sets

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Marion Bartoli

Marion Bartoli has finally parted ways with her father and might be feeling a bit lost in this tournament. She faces a resurgent Kuznetsova, who is slowly playing herself back to form. I believe Kuznetsova has the game to beat Bartoli but the weak mentality is holding her back. Their heads to heads is tied at 2-all, with Bartoli winning the last 2 meetings. Since the confidence of Kuznetsova is back, the Russian might edge out the win here. In fact, she does everything better than Bartoli, just needs to keep her head in the game.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 2 tight sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova
Upset alert: Samantha Stosur, Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli

Doha day 2: Forced to appear

2nd round:

[2] Serena Williams (USA) d Daria Gavrilova (RUS) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 1 |
[3] Maria Sharapova (RUS) d Caroline Garcia (FRA) | 6 - 3 | 6 - 2 |
Mona Barthel (GER) d [5] Angelique Kerber (GER) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |

1st round:

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |
[11] Nadia Petrova (RUS) d Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) d Tadeja Majeric (SLO) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 4 |
[9] Marion Bartoli (FRA) d Francesca Schiavone (ITA) | 7 - 6 (5) | 6 - 3 |
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d Varvara Lepchenko (USA) | 7 - 6 (8) | 3 - 0 |
[16] Sloane Stephens (USA) d Anna Tatishvili (GEO) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 2 |
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d Ons Jabeur (TUN) | 2 - 6 | 6 - 3 | 6 - 0 |
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d Jelena Jankovic (SRB) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 1 |
[15] Roberta Vinci (ITA) d Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) | 6 - 2 | 2 - 1 |
Urszula Radwanska (POL) d Nadiya Kichenok (UKR) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 0 |
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d Laura Robson (GBR) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 1 |
Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) d [12] Maria Kirilenko (RUS) | 3 - 0 |
Timea Babos (HUN) d Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |
Romina Oprandi (SUI) d Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) | 7 - 6 (2) | 7 - 5 |
[17] Lucie Safarova (CZE) d Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |
Christina McHale (USA) d Vera Dushevina (RUS) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |

Upset of the day:

Mona Barthel (GER) d [5] Angelique Kerber (GER) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |

It seems that Angelique Kerber is not fully healed as she falls easily to Mona Barthel. Looking listless and lethargic, you have to question if Kerber is forced to participate in this event. Barthel was ruthless, punishing anything short and playing a very clean match with positive statistics. If you discount her early crash in Melbourne, Mona is really having a great year. Let's hope she continues her winning ways and not lose steam like last year.

Monica Niculescu (ROU) d Jelena Jankovic (SRB) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 1 | 

Monica Niculescu has never won a set off Jelena Jankovic in their last 5 meetings. This just shows how far Jankovic has fallen. Jelena might not be fully healed from her torn abdominal injury, making her another player who is possibly forced to show up. Not too sure about this rule but it will really be a shame if WTA is twisting the players' arms just to make them appear. Hopefully Jankovic recovers and show what she's really capable of. If not, I suspect she will announce her retirement soon.

Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) d [12] Maria Kirilenko (RUS) | 3 - 0 | 

Another player who shouldn't be here but made her appearance anyway. Kirilenko was already sick in the previous week's Fed Cup tie in Moscow but flew all the way to Doha to retire anyway. Just too many incidents to make this a coincidence. These 3 players, together with a battered Hsieh, are probably coerced into appearing or suffer having a 0 in their points. WTA needs to look into this as I would rather see healthy lucky losers play rather than top players who just can't be bothered.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Doha day 2: Is Kerber fully healed?

Schedule of play:

Andrea Hlavackova vs. Nadia Petrova
Francesca Schiavone vs. Marion Bartoli
Carolina Garcia vs. Maria Sharapova
Daria Gavrilova vs. Serena Williams
Mona Barthel vs. Angelique Kerber
Eleni Daniilidou vs. Lucie Safarova
Roberta Vinci vs. Yanina Wickmayer
Laura Robson vs. Daniela Hantuchova
Maria Kirilenko vs. Ekaterina Bychkova
Sorana Cirstea vs. Ons Jabeur
Monica Niculescu vs. Jelena Jankovic
Heidi El Tabakh vs. Timea Babos
Christina Mchale vs. Vera Dushevina
Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Ekaterina Makarova
Sloane Stephens vs. Anna Tatishvili
Urzsula Radwanska vs. Nadiya Kichenok
Klara Zakopalova vs. Varvara Lepchenko
Tadeja Majeric vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
Tsvetana Pironkova vs. Romina Oprandi

Match focus:

Mona Barthel vs. Angelique Kerber

Red-hot Mona Barthel meets the top German who is under an injury cloud. Angelique Kerber claims to be suffering from a back injury and makes her first appearance since that announcement. Is Kerber fully healed or is that just an excuse to skip Fed Cup? Nevertheless, it should be a good fight between these 2 compatriots as Barthel is on a high after winning Paris and Kerber will be keen to show who's the top German. I think the lack of match play might affect Angelique and back injuries do not heal over a few weeks. A retirement is very possible.

Pick: Barthel in 2 sets

Andrea Hlavackova vs. Nadia Petrova

Somebody's gotta win this match in this clash of the winless. Hlavackova and Petrova are both winless this season and their next round opponent must be awaiting them with glee. With both having more success on the doubles tour, you have to wonder if it's time to concentrate on that. Petrova form went on a free fall after winning Tokyo and Sofia and missed out her chance on getting back into the top 10. She will be the favourite here, being the higher ranked player. Andrea needs to keep Nadia moving and hold her own serve. Once Nadia is rattled, you pretty much have the match. However, Andrea was never a mental giant to begin with, so the edge goes to Petrova.

Pick: Petrova in 2 sets

Tadeja Majeric vs. Su-Wei Hsieh 

What is Hsieh Su-Wei doing here in Doha? She is injured and should just rest until she is fully fit. This crazy Taiwanese is just baffling with her schedule. If she continues like this, she will be a walking bye in all the tournaments she partakes and not to mention, incur permanent injuries that could end her career. It doesn't matter who her opponent is anymore, anyone standing across the net should be able to win against Hsieh. I have never seen Majeric play and she's obviously not the fittest girl, but I still expect her to win. Get some rest, Hsieh.

Pick: Majeric in 2 sets

Doha: Caroline returns to top 10


Caroline Garcia (FRA) d Fatma Al Nabhani (OMA) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) | 7 - 6 (1) | 6 - 4 |
Mona Barthel (GER) d Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 2 |
[10] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d Mervana Jugic-Salkic (BIH) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |
[13] Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d Tamira Paszek (AUT) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |
Daria Gavrilova (RUS) d Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) | 4 - 6 | 6 - 3 | 6 - 3 |
Simona Halep (ROU) d Olga Govortsova (BLR) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 0 |
Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) d Jie Zheng (CHN) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |

Upset of the day:

Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) d Jie Zheng (CHN) | 6 - 2 | 6 - 3 |

What a disappointing start of this year for Zheng Jie. She hits herself out of the court against one of the most vile players on tour, Anastasia Rodionova. Zheng was just not on the court today, committing 39 unforced errors. She also stopped play in the middle of a point to challenge a call but it also went against her. Rodionova did well to save many break points and almost choked it away leadin 5-0 in the 2nd set but Zheng was determined to gift this match to her. Anastasia will face Agnieszka Radwanska next and the Pole will surely put her in her place.

[10] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d Mervana Jugic-Salkic (BIH) | 6 - 1 | 6 - 2 |

Caroline Wozniacki couldn't have asked for an easier opponent here in Doha. Mervana Jugic-Salkic has been on tour for more than 10 years and her peak ranking was 99 way back in 2004. When you see Mervana, it's obvious that she shouldn't be competing in the singles tour. Overweight and clearly lacking in movement, it was a torture for tennis fans to watch. Caroline will be back in the top 10 with this win and let's see how she will try to maintain her status as a top 10 player this time.

Mona Barthel (GER) d Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) | 6 - 4 | 6 - 2 |

Even mild-mannered Mona Barthel couldn't take Putintseva's antics on court. Mona went from laughing at her opponent's reactions to mimicking them in retaliation. Nice to see someone put this brat in her place. No idea why Putintseva does what she does because it will only make your opponents want to beat you more. Hopefully she will mature or get a coach to tell her that this isn't right. We don't need another vile Rodionova on tour.