Friday, 31 May 2013

Roland Garros day 7: Kirilenko's destiny

Upset of the previous day:

Stefanie Voegele def. Kaia Kanepi 7-6(6) 3-6 8-6

Kaia Kanepi was my favourite in this quarter but not surprisingly, she collapsed near the end of the match. This year has really been a good year for Voegele, who has been playing in the ITF circuit for quite a while. The Swiss also has never won a match in Roland Garros before, so it's good to see her reach the 3rd round. Back to the drawing board now Kaia, at least you're not injured this time. Seem like whoever wins Brussels is jinxed. :x

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Marion Bartoli vs. Francesca Schiavone

A re-match of the 2010 semi-finals, where Schiavone won her only maiden slam. Things shouldn't deviate much from 3 years ago as Marion hasn't gotten better on clay. Also, Marion struggle in all her matches against lower ranked players; so Schiavone will definitely feel confident about her chances. The only way Marion can win is that somehow the French crowd gets into Schiavone's mind. If not, Francesca's got this in the bag.

Pick: Schiavone in 2 sets

Jelena Jankovic vs. Samantha Stosur

Another rematch of the 2010 semi-finals, Jelena Jankovic will come in this time as the underdog. Samantha has had no problems dismantling her opponents so far and looks to be the more in-from player. However, Jankovic has had a mini-revival of sorts recently so the Aussie needs to be at the top of her game. Stosur should win this if she plays her normal game, unless she decides to shank every ball into the stands.

Pick: Stosur in 3 sets

Stefanie Voegele vs. Maria Kirilenko

Look who's destined for the top 10. With this win, Kirilenko will finally make her debut in the top 10 after so many years of touring as a pro. Can Voegele continue her fine form and stop Kirilenko's party? I doubt so. Steady as ever, Kirilenko is like a poor man's Agnieszka Radwanska. She will not have problems with lower ranked players but will almost certainly fall tamely to the rest of the top players. Voegele needs to not miss, serve big and go for the kill on every shot to win this match.

Pick: Kirilenko in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Maria Kirilenko
Upset alert: Marion Bartoli

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Roland Garros day 6: Experience vs youth

Upset of the previous day:

Bethanie Mattek-Sands def. Li Na 5-7 6-3 6-2

Turns out the one in trouble wasn't Kvitova, it was Li Na. Li has struggle to find any sort of form since her Stuttgart final appearance, so it wasn't really shocking that she got bounced out early. However, many were expecting her to raise her level for this Grand Slam. The intermittent rain delays did not help as her momentum was disrupted several times. Bethanie was a top 30 player and she seems to be on her way back after this win. As for Li, she needs to find out what's wrong and come back strong in Wimbledon.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Sabine Lisicki vs. Sara Errani

The problem with Sabine Lisicki is that she tends to go for winners on every shot. Against someone like Errani who retrieves a lot, she's always going to end up on the losing end. While it's true that when Lisicki is on, she's almost unplayable, nobody plays at 100% all the time. Sabine needs to play smart and go for the right shot at the right time. Errani isn't going to blast her off the court anyway. However, Sabine will probably go for broke and end up packing her bags this time again.

Pick: Errani in 3 sets

Bojana Jovanovski vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

The section of the draw really opened up with Makarova and Wozniacki being taken out by these 2 players. Kuznetsova had a weird opening set against Rybarikova where she just wasn't on court. However, she put things back in place in the next 2 sets. She should be the firm favourite here, having won the title 4 years ago. However, she needs to be cautious not to give many free points to Bojana, who will be eager to pounce and play first strike tennis.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 2 sets

Monica Puig vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

Monica Puig showed real strength in closing out Keys in her previous round. Maybe she's ready for the main stage? She faces another uphill task against the crafty claycourter, Carla. Suarez is a darkhorse for this tournament as she quietly makes her way into the third round. The Spaniard has the experience and the variety to take out the youngster. Puig needs to be confident with herself and not be deflated if a few shots go out. If she believes, she can do it.

Pick: Suarez Navarro in 3 sets

Sure win bet: Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic
Upset alert: Roberta Vinci, Angelique Kerber

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Roland Garros day 5: Kvitova in trouble

Upset of the previous day:

Bojana Jovanovski def. Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 6-3

So history did repeat itself. Caroline Wozniacki is just a sad shadow of her former self and lost tamely to Jovanovski. Let's not kid ourselves. The only reason she's in the second round is because Laura couldn't keep the ball in. Once Caroline meets someone who can consistently outhit her, she's a goner. I've heard that she's still with her father as a coach despite rumors of her getting a new one. Whatever it is, she needs to change something because this downward spiral is getting ugly.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Francesca Schiavone vs. Kirsten Flipkens

Flipkens faces another Italian veteran here in the second round. Flavia faded badly after clinching the first set in clinical style, but that isn't going to happen with Schiavone Despite being in her 30s, the Italian's fitness is undoubted. Flipkens should count herself lucky that Pennetta ran out of energy. Schiavone is a seasoned clay courter and should outsmart the Belgian.

Pick: Schiavone in 2 sets

Marion Bartoli vs. Mariana Duque Marino

Marion Bartoli escaped from jail in her first round. Will she be able to replicate it this time? In case you're thinking that Mariana Duque Marino is  pushover, she's actually quite a good claycourter with a title to her resume. However, Marion is back with her father as a coach and seemed to be clicking well in her fighting mentality. So despite not playing well, Marion should be buoyed by the home crowd and squeak out another win.

Pick: Bartoli in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs. Peng Shuai

Petra Kvitova has completely lost the plot. Struggling against a clearly out of shape Rezai is very worrying. She is only banking on her aura as a top player to squeeze out wins but how long will that last? Peng Shuai is coming off an impressive week in Brussels where she reached the finals. Will she be ready to topple the towering Czech? Although Peng has upset a few top players before, her weak mentality is always a problem. I would love to see Peng succeed but I don't think she's ready. She might take a set, but Kvitova will emerge the eventual winner.

Pick: Kvitova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Samantha Stosur, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka
Upset alert: Kirsten Flipkens

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Roland Garros day 4: Will history repeat itself?

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Zuzana Kucova vs. Virginie Razzano

On paper, this is a non-contest despite Razzano being ranked outside the top 100 herself. However, Kucova has just beaten Julia Goerges and seems to be playing the best tennis of her life. She has absolutely nothing to lose and she will go out onto the court guns ablazing. Razzano has the added advantage of playing in front of her home crowd, but if they knew of Kucova's back story, they will be rooting for her as well. Tough match to call but I will always side with the underdog.

Pick: Kucova in 3 sets

Monica Puig vs. Madison Keys

I have a feeling that we'll be seeing these 2 players play each other more in the next few years. 2 of the brightest prospects of the tour clash and Keys is a slight favourite with her higher ranking. However, Puig has a nifty all court game and she is high on confidence after upsetting Petrova in the first round. Like Kucova, Puig has nothing to lose and will just go for her shots. This will be a close battle. I like Monica but she tends to get tight when she attempts to close matches out. So I'm going with Keys this time.

Pick: Keys in 3 sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Bojana Jovanovski

A rematch of their recent Rome encounter which Bojana edged out the Dane. Will history repeat itself? Caroline won her first match easily, but it was mostly due to Laura Robson misfiring her shots. She seemed more confident though once her opponent starts to miss, so I think she should be able to pick up the pieces. Bojana just needs to remember what happened in Rome and try to replicate it again. This is a very good chance for the Serb to reach the 3rd round, but I believe Caroline will prevail this time around.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2 tight sets

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Petra Cetkovska

Petra Cetkovska is fresh off an injury timeout but has absolutely demolished her opponent in the first round. She is a crafty player who will make Pavlyuchenkova cover a lot of court. Anastasia barely scrapped past a slumping Hlavackova so I don't expect her to ease through this match. The Russian is just impossible to predict as she goes from winning a title, to losing to the same person the next week. Seems like she still needs a lot of physical conditioning. Cetkovska is playing without any burden on her shoulders, so I believe she should be able to outsmart the Russian.

Pick: Cetkovska in 3 sets

Yulia Putintseva vs. Sara Errani

Fiesty Yulia Putintseva will take on the clay master, Sara Errani. Putintseva's hard groundstrokes should trouble the Italian, but Sara knows very well on how to weather the storm, having played so many matches with top players. Yulia just needs to keep going for her shots and not be bothered by the incessant retrieving from Sara. Yulia has the game to beat Sara, but Errani has the experience to come through.

Pick: Errani in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci, Annika Beck, Carla Suarez Navarro

Upset alert: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Heather Watson, Lucie Hradecka, Lucie Safarova, Virginie Razzano

Monday, 27 May 2013

Roland Garros day 3: Early exit for Bartoli?

Upset of the day:

Zuzana Kucova def. Julia Goerges 7-6 6-0

Zuzana who? Kucova is an unranked playing who's taking advantage of her special ranking to play some events before retiring for good. Yet, Julia Goerges manages to lose to her. How can anyone who has barely done anything for the past year be ranked in the top 30 is puzzling. Goerges needs to get back to the drawing board now as this is beyond embarassing.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Marion Bartoli vs. Olga Govortsova

Bartoli is always going to be a risky pick on clay despite having reached the semi-finals a few years ago. To add to her woes, she has had a forgettable year with no highlights and zero form coming into Roland Garros. Will Govortsova be mentally strong enough to take advantage? Olga is a clean striker of the ball but with zero game plan. If Marion plays smart, she might edge past Olga. However, both players are prone to hitting without much thought so I expect quite a disastrous match frankly.

Pick: Govortsova in 3 sets

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Jelena Jankovic

Former top 10 players clash in this battle of the has-beens. Hantuchova had a good victory over Kvitova but as usual, lost the next match. Jelena Jankovic had a revival of sorts recently and will stand as the firm favourite. The Serb has also reached the semi-finals here 3 times so she's better suited to this surface. Daniela needs to dictate points and not make silly errors which she is prone to. Hopefully we'll see a good match here.

Pick: Jankovic in 2 sets.

Klara Zakopalova vs. Kaia Kanepi

Klara Zakopalova has barely played in the past few months and she gets a killer draw, drawing the in form Kaia Kanepi. One has to show great respect to the Estonian for bursting out of the blocks despite having just returned from injury. Her title last week in Brussels shows that she means business and will be the firm favourite here. The only factor is fatigue as she might be tired from so many matches in a short span of time. But with her wham-bam game, I believe Kaia will not expend too much energy here.

Pick: Kanepi in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Victoria Azarenka, Alize Cornet, Maria Kirilenko, Samantha Stosur, Yaroslava Shvedova
Upset alerts: Klara Zakopalova, Yanina Wickmayer, Heather Watson, Lucie Safarova, Lucie Hradecka

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Roland Garros Day 2: Will Caro finally win???

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Laura Robson

Wozniacki comes in with a 5 match losing streak with her last win dating all the way back in Charleston. That is not technically red clay so she is practically winless on clay. It doesn't bode well for the Dane as she comes in low on confidence and also fresh from sacking her long time coach, her irritating father Piotr. Kudos to her on doing what she should have done last year but to do so before a Grand Slam is a bit too drastic. Robson is on a high after upsetting Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams in the past weeks. She will be confident of her chances against a deflated Wozniacki.

Pick: Robson in 2 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Kirsten Flipkens

Flipkens's clay results are abysmal as she was bounced out by lesser players throughout the past few events. She should have her hands full with seasoned clay courter, Flavia Pennetta. The Italian is slowly warming up to match conditions as she reached the semi-finals of Strasbourg last week. Her game fits naturally to clay so I don't see her losing this match. Flipkens should excel on other surfaces but clay is just too slow for her game.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 sets

Mona Barthel vs. Angelique Kerber

The ever dangerous Mona Barthel faces compatriot Angelique Kerber in this first round match. Kerber is under an injury cloud, having withdrawn from her last event in Rome. HOwever, Barthel has barely won matches on clay this season. This should be an interesting one as Mona tries to oust her higher ranked compatriot. Barthel has the game, but her poor choice of shot often causes her to lose unnecessary matches. Kerber makes the most of her limited game and fights like her life depends on it. So it's obvious who will emerge the winner, unless Mona has a crazy day where everything she hits lands in.

Pick: Kerber in 2 tight sets

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Ekaterina Makarova

The dangerous floater meets another Russian, Makarova. Even though she is unseeded and was recently destroyed by Simona Halep, I still consider Kuznetsova to be a slight favourtie here. Makarova's game do not translate well on clay and her movement limitations are more exposed. Kuznetsova tends to lift her level on major events so I believe she will do so here.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 2 tight sets

Tamira Paszek vs. Melanie Oudin

How the hell is Tamira still seeded is beyond me. She has only won 1 match this year and will probably lose to anyone who is across the net. Oudin is not a threat to anyone but she will be thanking her gods for drawing this virtual bye.

Pick: Oudin in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Melanie Oudin, Romina Oprandi, Varvara Lepchenko, Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vinci

Upset alert: Ekaterina Makarova, Kirsten Flipkens, Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Christina McHale

Monday, 20 May 2013

Rome scorecard: Unstoppable Serena

A+: Serena Williams

Bulldozed her way to the title. The last time she won Rome, she won Roland Garros as well. A premonition of things to come?

A: Simona Halep

Giant killer from qualifying to the semi-finals. Upset great clay courters in Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic.

A-: Victoria Azarenka

Not her preferred surface but fought well to amend for Madrid's shock collapse.

B+: Sara Errani

Say what you want about her game. She's made the most of her talent and now boasts a top 5 ranking.

B: Jelena Jankovic

Upset Li only to succumb to Simona. However, much better form compared to the beginning of the year.

B-: Samantha Stosur

Destined to be Azarenka's pigeon. Nevertheless, took her to 3 sets and upset Kvitova.

C+: Carla Suarez Navarro

A good showing to reach the quarters. However, totally outclassed by Serena.

C: Laura Robson

Took out a sickly Venus Williams. Although she lost tamely to Serena, seems to be back on track after a horrible slump.

C-: Petra Kvitova

Played like utter trash throughout the tournament but still managed to win a few matches. Needs to get it together pronto.

D: Venus Williams

Just a sad sight to see her struggle so much on court. Maybe it's time to hang the racket.

E: Agnieszka Radwanska

Lost to Simona, who she bagelled last year in Brussels. Just non-existent on clay this year.

F: Caroline Wozniacki

Bojana Jovanovski hasn't won a match since January and Caroline managed to lose to her. Incredible feat.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Rome final: Can Azarenka do it again?

Rome final:

Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka upset Serena in Dubai when Serena just claimed back her number 1 spot. Can she do it again here? Well, Serena is in imperious form, bagelling opponents left and right no matter their rankings. It will be tough for Azarenka to repeat that feat on a surface that doesn't suit her. Serena is brimming with confidence and she will be ready to avenge her loss to the Belarussian a few months ago. She is just unstoppable.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Rome QF: Can Halep surprise again?

Schedule of play:

Serena Williams vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Sara Errani vs. Maria Sharapova
Simona Halep vs. Jelena Jankovic
Samantha Stosur vs. Victoria Azarenka

Match focus:

Simona Halep vs. Jelena Jankovic

All the way from qualifying, Simona Halep bashed through the draw, destroying her opponents along the way. Will she cause another upset against Jankovic? Jelena seems to be back on track after defeating last year's finalist Li Na and she obviously loves Rome, having won here before. She will be confident of her chances against a tired Halep. Simona is inspired, but Jankovic has the experience.

Pick: Jankovic in 2 tight sets

Samantha Stosur vs. Victoria Azarenka

After last weeks horrible meltdown, Azarenka seems to be back on track with routine demolition jobs. She knows she needs to keep herself together and her results will show. Victoria is playing against her pigeon, Stosur. The Australian has never beaten her before but this is on Sam's preferred clay. Will it make a difference? Stosur's form has been shaky so it'll take a lot for her to upset the Belarussian. I expect a close fight, but the Australian Open champion should emerge the winner.

Pick: Azarenka in 3 sets

Sara Errani vs. Maria Sharapova

Sharapova wins. Next.

Pick: Sharapova in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

The world number 1 faces another wily clay courter in the form of Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard has a nifty clay court game but Serena's superior power will nullify everything. A close set maybe, but the American should not have any problems with Carla.

Pick: Serena Williams in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova
Upset alert: None unfortunately. Maybe Victoria Azarenka