Sunday, 30 June 2013

Wimbledon day 8: 4th round action commences

Upset of the previous day:

Sabine Lisicki def. Samantha Stosur 4-6 6-2 6-1

It is an upset in terms of ranking, but Lisicki was expected to win anyway. Stosur did a good job by taking it to 3 sets, but the result was never in doubt. Lisicki seems to thrive on the SW19 courts and she will definitely be much more of a challenger against Serena Williams. Samantha should be satisfied with her best showing in Wimbledon, and look forward to the US hardcourt season.

Schedule of play:

Serena Williams vs. Sabine Lisicki
Laura Robson vs. Kaia Kanepi
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Tsvetana Pironkova
Petra Kvitova vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Roberta Vinci vs. Li Na
Marion Bartoli vs. Karin Knapp
Kirsten Flipkens vs. Flavia Pennetta
Monica Puig vs. Sloane Stephens

Match focus:

Serena Williams vs. Sabine Lisicki

Sabine Lisicki loves a big upset here on grass. She caused one of the biggest upsets by beating Li and Sharapova in the past 2 years, and she sets her sights on Serena Williams. Can she pull off the impossible? Serena has been virtually untouchable for the past 4 months and with her boombastic serve, it's hard to see her losing. Sabine needs to serve well herself, and attack Serena's second serve when given the opportunity. Sabine will have flashes of brilliance, but the upset is highly unlikely.

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Roberta Vinci vs. Li Na

Li used her get out of jail card against Klara Zakopalova in the third round. Will she escape the wily Italian's classic game? Vinci's vicious slice works extremely well on this surface and will definitely trouble Li. If she manages to get into Li's head, she can induce a lot of wild errors from the Chinese. Li's form is still a bit sporadic, you'll never know which Li will turn up. An upset here is possible, but given their history, I think Li will still prevail.

Pick: Li in 3 sets

Monica Puig vs. Sloane Stephens

It seems like Sloane Stephens like to stop the dream runs of her opponents. After defeating comeback queens, Andrea Petkovic and Petra Cetkovska in 3 tough sets, Monica Puig looks set to be her next victim. The young Puerto Rican has had an amazing week and will be looking forward to advancing to her first quarter-finals in a grand slam. However, Sloane will be tougher for the youngster as she will be looking to take the initiative as well. It will be a battle of the future stars of WTA, with Sloane having a slight advantage. Good thing for Puig is that she has nothing to lose. Hopefully she goes for her shots and makes it.

Pick: Stephens in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Kirsten Flipkens, Agnieszka Radwanska
Upset alert: Marion Bartoli, Kaia Kanepi

Friday, 28 June 2013

Wimbledon day 6: Laura living up to her hype (this time)

Upset of the previous day:

Kaia Kanepi def. Angelique Kerber 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3

Another top 8 seed is bundled out as these 2 girls played their hearts out. Looking at the statistics, it was a marvellous match, with both ladies hitting more winners than errors. Kanepi proved that her ranking doesn't do her justice and despite her customary slight wobble in the end, she made it through the finish line. Kerber will be disappointed as she is defending semi-finalist points, but she has to acknowledge Kaia was too good today and she herself did fare too badly either. Let's hope Kaia goes far here to get her ranking back to where she belongs, so we won't be seeing this match-ups in the early rounds.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Sabine Lisicki vs. Samantha Stosur

Big serves will fight for a place in the 4th round as Lisicki will try to topple Stosur's spinny serve. Samantha's first 2 round opponents are frankly, scrubs. She got through them without much trouble as expected. Lisicki was flawless in her demolition of Elena Vesnina and she will be the favourite despite her lower ranking. It's no secret that grass and Samantha are not very good friends, so she should be happy that she's in this stage.

Pick: Lisicki in 2 sets

Laura Robson vs. Marina Erakovic

One thing that has dogged Laura is that she is often too hyped up to perform well. However, more often than not, she fails to meet the high British expectations. This time, I must say that she's doing very well and her path to the 2nd week looks open against Marina Erakovic. Make no mistake, Erakovic is a very good grass court player. However, playing on centre court against a British player might be too much for the New Zealander. If Laura doesn't self-destruct, she has a good chance of appeasing the critical British press.

Pick: Robson in 2 sets

Klara Zakopalova vs. Li Na

Li's seems to be cruising through her matches without much difficulty. Klara Zakopalova will be a tougher test for the Chinese as they went to 3 sets in Shenzhen in January. Klara's flat hitting game is suited for grass and her only weakness is her rather weak serve. I'm sure Li will capitalise on that delivery and take the initiative from the first point. If she keeps her errors tidy, Li shouldn't have much trouble this time.

Pick: Li in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Laura Robson, Li Na
Upset alert: Samantha Stosur, Agnieszka Radwanska, Tsvetana Pironkova

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wimbledon day 5: Kvitova the favourite?

Upset of the previous day:

Madison Keys def. Mona Barthel 6-4 6-2

Well, it's not really unexpected like the casualties in day 3, but Mona just can't seem to string a series of good wins together. She has all the tools at her disposal, but her form fluctuates so wildly that you don't know when she'll bomb out. Madison Keys impresses with her performance and she will definitely be a fixture in the top 30 or top 20 in the future. As for Mona, maybe she needs a new coach to get her game back.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Petra Kvitova vs. Ekaterina Makarova

With all the top names bombing out, the integrity of the bottom half lies on the shoulders of former champion Petra Kvitova. However, she struggled against Coco Vandeweghe and looked a shadow of herself in the past few months. Dogged by off court scandals, can Kvitova hold it together to make a run to the finals? Makarova is no slouch on grass but she also did struggle in her first round match. I believe Makarova has the game to beat Kvitova on an off day, but the question is whether she believes it herself. If the Russian does, I believe another top seed will be sent crashing out.

Pick: Makarova in 3 sets

Sloane Stephens vs. Petra Cetkovska

Sloane Stephens survived "Wimble-geddon", but can she survive Cetkovska? Seems like all the comeback players have to play Sloane but I believe Cetkovska will be quietly confident after beating Wozniacki convincingly. Petra's all court game is very pleasing to the eye and she definitely is a top 30 player. Sloane should be careful because Cetkovska will not be hesistant to take the initiative if Sloane is holding back. I expect a lot of wicked crosscourt backhands from Petra which will trouble Sloane.

Pick: Cetkovska in 3 sets

Alize Cornet vs. Flavia Pennetta

Pennetta needs to make good use of the free pass Azarenka has given her to accumulate ranking points. The Italian veteran is still ranked outside the top 100 and a win here will definitely propel her to the top 100. Alize's game is not really suited for grass but she did well to beat 2 flat hitters. She will be tested by the very capable Flavia Pennetta, who can change her game to adapt to the low and quick surface. Also, Flavia is well rested, which gives her a better chance of winning as she has been dogged by fatigue in her last few losses.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard is coming off an upset of Ana Ivanovic. Can she maintain her momentum to defeat the wily Spaniard? Ivanovic was pretty dire in their match, so Eugenie benefitted from that. However, Carla isn't going to be generous with her errors and will definitely not give the same balls for Bouchard to hit. It will be interesting to see how the youngster handles wicked variety.

Pick: Suarez Navarro in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Monica Puig, Laura Robson, Marion Bartoli, Angelique Kerber, Kristen Flipkens
Upset alert: Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Urzsula Radwanska, Alize Cornet

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wimbledon day 4: Will black Wednesday repeat itself?

Upset of the previous day:

Michelle Larcher De Brito def. Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-4

The highest profile loser among the shock losses must be Sharapova. She was incredibly consistent this year and to lose to someone outside the top 100 and in such manner is appalling. Maria was never comfortable on the surface, slipping numerous times and I think, injuring her hip as a result. The surface seems to be causing a lot of falls for the playrs as Wozniacki and Azarenka suffered similar fates. It needs to be reviewed if more players get injured, as it is not safe to be playing on slippery ice.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Sabine Lisicki vs. Elena Vesnina

Sabine loves the grass but she faces a stern test with Vesnina. The Russian is coming off a title in Eastbourne and is the more confident player. However, Sabine's first strike tennis favours her on this slippery fast surface and should be able to dominate rallies with her serve. Vesnina needs to hang in and hope Lisicki makes the mistakes. I believe this will be a good match, barring any slips and falls.

Pick: Lisicki in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Li Na

Li Na will face the player on a winning streak, Simona Halep. The Romanian cannot be taken lightly and the Chinese needs to be at the top of her game. However, Halep might be feeling the effects of playing so many matches. So Li needs to make Simona run on the court and tire her out. The surface seems to favour the more aggressive players, thus Li has the advantage. It won't be an easy match, but I pick Li to stop Simona's winning streak.

Pick: Li in 3 sets

Kaia Kanepi vs. Angelique Kerber

Kerber subdued the aggressive Bethanie Mattek-Sands and will meet another player who takes the first strike. Kaia Kanepi has reached the quarter-finals here before so she should be accustomed to the surface. However, she did struggle mightily against virtual unknown, Tara Moore in the first round. If she carries that form here, she will be easy prey for the German. Let's hope Kaia regains her form and we can see a good match of contrasting styles here.

Pick: Kerber in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams, Laura Robson, Roberta Vinci, Kimiko Date-Krumm
Upset alert: Urzsula Radwanska, Mona Barthel, Klara Zakopalova

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Wimbledon day 3: Kvitova in trouble

Upset of day 2:

Laura Robson def. Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-4

Looks like I was wrong about Laura. Well, maybe she was just having a good day. Nevertheless, the Brit showed off her great ball striking skills and took out the top 10 player. Kirilenko will always be in trouble against someone who's hitting the ball hard and deep consistently. Laura will be the favourite to at least advance to the 4th round, so hopefully she doesn't disappoint.

Schedule of play

Match focus:

Flavia Pennetta vs. Victoria Azarenka

Flavia Pennetta played very well against Elena Baltacha, exceeding my expectations. She will be facing Azarenka now, who is under an injury cloud. Victoria fell and tweaked her knee, causing her to scream in pain on court. It was quite a dramatic scene and it's a miracle she managed to finish her match. We will see now if that injury has affected her physically. Pennetta will make sure that that knee is given a thorough workout. I believe Victoria will be feeling the after-effects of that scare and there might be a retirement here.

Pick: Pennetta wins via retirement

Petra Kvitova vs. Yaroslava Shvedova

Shaky Kvitova struggled through Vandeweghe in her first round as expected. Coco didn't have what it takes to cause the upset. Yaroslava on the other hand, loves the surface and is no stranger to causing upsets. She definitely stands a chance of beating the inconsisten Czech. If Petra loses, this will be a good wake up call for her to concentrate on tennis instead of her off-court distractions.

Pick: Shvedova in 2 tight sets

Petra Cetkovska vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline was given a virtual first round bye with Candela. However, Cetkovska is a fine ball striker with an all court game. Will she be able to topple the Dane? Caroline needs to serve well and dictate points afterwards, If she misses too many first serves and allow Petra to gain confidence, she might be in trouble. Cetkovska is still quite early in her comeback after an injury, so I expect her to push Wozniacki, but Caroline will still win.

Pick: Wozniacki in 3 sets

Sloane Stephens vs. Andrea Petkovic

A mouth-watering clash between these 2 players with Andrea on a comeback trail. Stephens did well to take out Jamie but that was due to fatigue on Jamie's side. Andrea has played quite a number of matches herself for the past weeks so it'll be interesting to see if that affects her. Experience wise, Andrea has the upperhand while Sloane has the raw power. Andrea will need to mix things up and get Stephens on the defensive quickly. If Sloane dictates the points, Andrea will not stand much of a chance.

Pick: Stephens in 3 sets

Marion Bartoli vs. Christina McHale

Marion Bartoli withdrew from Eastbourne with an injury but seemed to be fully recovered here as she eased into the 2nd round. McHale had the luck of drawing Glatch, who is only in the draw due to a wildcard. Bartoli thrives on grass so it will be silly to discount her against McHale. What can Christina do to try to win this match? Hope Bartoli injures herself unfortunately.

Pick: Bartoli in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Monica Puig, Lesia Tsurenko, Marion Bartoli
Upset alert: Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Alize Cornet

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wimbledon day 2: British hopes to be dashed?

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Maria Kirilenko vs. Laura Robson

As the British number 1, Laura is carrying the hopes of the whole nation in Wimbledon. Sadly, she's drawn against Kirilenko, whose steady game is the perfect nemesis for Robson. Losing twice to Wozniacki indicates that Laura doesn't have the patience nor the discipline to go for well time winners. This flaw will be exposed ruthlessly by the Russian. Maria will play her unimpressive but consistent game to draw the wild errors from the Brit. Looks like another disappointment for the young lass.

Pick: Kirilenko in 2 sets

Heather Watson vs. Madison Keys

Heather Watson is the reverse of Laura. She plays her simple yet conservative game and waits for the correct ball to strike. She will face an equivalent of Robson, an undisciplined ball basher. Keys has the raw power and clean ball striking, but not the right tactics and footwork. Watson will wear the American out and cause her to hit unnecessary errors. Seems like not all British hopes will be dashed.

Pick: Watson in 2 tight sets

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Angelique Kerber

Last year's semi-finalist, Angelique Kerber faces a tough test in her opening round. Bethanie is coming off a strong showing in Paris and she has beaten Kerber before twice. The American's ultra-aggressive game is suited for the grass and besides, she'll be wearing Google Glass! No idea how it is going to affect Bethanie but she might be distracted by it. Who knows? Anyway, things will be tough for the German. She needs to keep calm and grind every single ball. Once Mattek-Sands start missing, she will stand a chance.

Pick: Kerber in 3 tough sets

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Tsvetana Pironkova

If you look at Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's results in the mandatory/premier events, you'll be shocked at how she managed to be seeded. Following the trend, she should be exiting this event early as well. Pironkova loves the grass and against someone as shaky as Pavlyuchenkova, she is primed for the upset. Sadly, Pironkova doesn't play well on any other surface, or else she can be seeded and avoid meeting the seeds early.

Pick: Pironkova in 2 tight sets

Klara Zakopalova vs. Daniela Hantuchova

Despite having a stellar start to the season, Klara Zakopalova fell off the radar and faded into obscurity. She has been playing uninspired tennis for the past few months and will likely fall victim to resurgent Daniela Hantuchova. Granted, Daniela retired from Eastbourne with an injury, but it is just due to the massive amount of matches played in Birmingham. I'm sure the Slovak is well rested and ready to go today.

Pick: Hantuchova in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams, Kaia Kanepi, Zheng Jie, Simona Halep
Upset alert: Klara Zakopalova, Madison Keys, Nadia Petrova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Tamira Paszek