Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Washington and Carlsbad day 3: Frustrating fluctuating players

Washington schedule:

Mona Barthel vs. Andrea Petkovic
Angelique Kerber vs. Melanie Oudin
Jana Cepelova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Paula Ormaechea vs. Olga Puchkova

Carlsbad schedule:

Laura Robson vs. Petra Kvitova
Dominika Cibulkova vs. Ana Ivanovic
Victoria Azarenka vs. Francesca Schiavone
Samantha Stosur vs. Sesil Karatantcheva
Roberta Vinci vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Match focus:

Mona Barthel vs. Andrea Petkovic

Mona Barthel is crazily inconsistent as evidenced by her loss to someone ranked outside the top 300 in Bad Gastein. Andrea Petkovic seems to be more consistent but is finding difficulty finding back her top 10 form. A lot is at stake here, points and a chance to prove who is the better German. Petkovic will have the upper hand as the more experienced German, but if Mona hits her stride, she's almost untouchable. Andrea will need to grind hard for the win.

Pick: Petkovic in 3 sets

Laura Robson vs. Petra Kvitova

Another crazy player that can be on and off on any given day, Kvitova will be tested against Robson in her opening match here. Robson beat the shaky Czech in Melbourne and will be confident to repeat that feat again. Kvitova has just been losing to players she's supposed to be routing, and bullshitting her way to the latter stages of her tournaments. Let's see how far she can go with her bad form this time.

Pick: Robson in 3 sets

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Ana Ivanovic

Ivanovic will face an uphill task against Cibulkova, someone who she has never beaten and a new champion in Stanford. The speedy Slovak isn't afraid of running the whole day retrieving Ana's forehand bombs, and giving back some of her own. Also, Cibulkova's simple tactic of hitting flat shots to Ana's backhand has worked everytime, so I expect more of of the same this time. Cibulkova isn't too far from Ana in terms of ranking, but this will be considered an upset.

Pick: Cibulkova in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Angelique Kerber, Samantha Stosur, Victoria Azarenka
Upset alert: Mona Barthel, Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Washington and Carlsbad day 2: Who's the biggest loser?

Washington schedule:

Carlsbad schedule:

Match focus:

Taylor Townsend vs. Monica Niculescu

I have never seen Taylor Townsend play before but I can roughly know that she won't be a good mover... Anyway, against someone like Monica Niculescu, movement is very important to handle all that junk. Even though Niculescu has been losing to almost anybody in recent months, it will be tough for the young American to handle her different spins. That said, I won't be surprised if Monica does nothing and allows the inexperienced junior dominate her.

Pick: Townsend in 2 tight sets

Julia Goerges vs. Sesil Karatantcheva

Julia Goerges hits the jackpot here by drawing one of the weakest player in the draw. Goerges has been struggling for the past few months and if she loses this match, she should just take a very long break to evaluate what went wrong with her game. Sesil is more interested in gaining infamy and partying then playing tennis, which is a waste as she did play well when she cared.

Pick: Goerges in 2 sets

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Tamira Paszek

Taking advantage of her entry before her ranking free fall, Tamira needs to make full use of the last chances to gain points. She will be dwelling in the challenger events soon as her ranking is outside the top 100 now. Daniela is the favourite here, even though Tamira did show signs of revival in Stanford. What's more interesting is Daniela's pairing with Hingis in doubles. Hopefully Martina can impart some tips to Daniela to revive her flagging career.

Sure win bets: Alison Riske, Coco Vandeweghe, Carla Suarez Navarro
Upset alert: Monica Niculescu, Urszula Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova

Monday, 29 July 2013

Washington, Carlsbad day 1: Stosur in trouble

Washington schedule:

Carlsbad schedule:

Match focus:

Jana Cepelova vs. Kiki Bertens

Something is going on with Kiki Bertens but she continues to play anyway. Her last win was in Rome and her last 2 losses were to players outside the top 190. No idea what's bothering the Dutch girl, but she needs to take a break to sort out her problems before it snowballs and erodes her confidence completely. Jana is a good ball striker and I guess will be more than happy to take out the troubled blond girl.

Pick Cepelova in 2 sets

Samantha Stosur vs. Varvara Lepchenko

Stosur's US Open preparations fell apart in Stanford and she will face a tougher opponent here in Lepchenko. Will the fragile Aussie crumble again? Lepchenko has a wily lefty serve and will be aiming for Samantha's weaker backhand. Stosur's kick serve will bounce into Varvara's forehand sweet spot for the American to swing freely. The only thing that is preventing Lepchenko from a sure win is her mental strength. I'm still not convinced she believes in herself enough to upset a top player. Maybe this match will be the one where she finishes the job.

Pick: Lepchenko in 2 tight sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Francesca Schiavone

These 2 Italians meet again after drawing each other in Indian Wells earlier this year. Schiavone won that match and it will be a sign of things to come for this match. Pennetta seems to be struggling with her fitness, unable to maintain her form for the entire match. Schiavone is still fit and speedy around the court, and that will make the difference. I admit I have a soft spot for Flavia but Francesca will be the slight favourite here. I wouldn't mind an upset though.

Pick: Schiavone in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Paula Ormaechea
Upset alert: Samantha Stosur, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Kiki Bertens

Stanford final: Cibulkova overpowers tentative Radwanska

Stanford final:

Dominika Cibulkova def. Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6 6-4 6-4

After suffering her most humiliating defeat at the hands of Radwanska in Sydney this year, Cibulkova exacts revenge by overpowering the Pole in 3 tight sets. Agnieszka seemed to be in cruise control early in the match, claiming the first set and snatching an early break in the second. However, Cibulkova went all out and started to swing freely, showing that Radwanska can be overpowered. Despite falling behind in the third set as well, Cibulkova never gave up and produced the winners when it mattered. She should be proud of what she achieved as not many people can overpower Radwanska. With this win, she has 3 Premier titles to her name now and will be one of the dark horses for US Open.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Stanford final: Easy points for Radwanska

Stanford final:

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Dominika Cibulkova

After the withdrawals of Bartoli and Lisicki, it was apparent that Radwanska would waltz her way to another title. The other players in the draw are too inconsistent to challenge the Pole. Cibulkova is one of them. Great job from Dominika for reaching the finals, but Radwanska will make the Slovak hit that one extra ball which will result in an error for the petite player. Again, Agnieszka needs to plan her schedule well or else she will suffer from burnout sooner or later. Until then, the title's in the bag for Radwanska.

Pick: Radwanska in 2 sets

Friday, 26 July 2013

Stanford SF: Jamie the dark horse

Sorana Cirstea vs. Dominika Cibulkova

Cibulkova manages to reach a semi-final out of the blue after a disastrous year. Outside of her Sydney final where she got slaughtered, the Slovak did nothing memorable and was languishing in mediocrity for a while. Will she be able to turn the tide against Sorana Cirstea? Last year, these 2 met in the quarter-final stage where Cirstea won against Dominika. I expect it to be the same this year. The fast court surface suits Cibulkova as well, but Sorana has a little more pop on her serve. It won't be a pretty match that's for sure.

Pick: Cirstea in 3 sets

Jamie Hampton vs. Agnieszka Radwanska/ Varvara Lepchenko

The match between Radwanska and Lepchenko hasn't been played yet at my time of posting, so I'm putting both possibilities here. Jamie has beaten Radwanska in Eastbourne and will be looking forward to doing it against here in her country. Hampton is slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with after another successful tournament so far. If Lepchenko somehow manages to beat Radwanska, Hampton might be troubled by the lefty's game. Still, Jamie should come out victorious in the battle of the Americans should that happen. Even though Jamie has that upset win over Agnieszka, I'm sure the Pole will be hungry for revenge.

Pick: Radwanska in 3 sets (vs Radwanska), Hampton in 3 sets (vs Lepchenko)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Stanford day 3: Radwanska in action

Schedule of play:

Tamira Paszek vs. Varvara Lepchenko

If Kudryavtseva hadn't injure herself, I'm pretty sure Paszek won't be here. Despite winning the first set easily, she tightened up and allowed Alla to win the second set. Varvara will not have any mercy on this slumping player and will claim an easy straight sets victory over the Austrian.

Pick: Lepchenko in 2 sets

Sorana Cirstea vs. Coco Vandeweghe

Coco Vandeweghe loves Stanford and it's apparent in her results. She reached the finals last year and just easily took out Monica Niculescu. The quick service suits her wham bam game and her serve becomes a big weapon here. However, Coco will face an equally hard hitter in Cirstea. Sorana will tee off on anything and everything, so Coco needs to serve well to keep the Romanian honest. I believe the American has what it takes to cause an upset here.

Pick: Vandeweghe in 3 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone is obviously not done with her career yet. She proves that she's got some wheels left in her by beating Mallory Burdette in her first round. However, Radwanska will definitely drive Schiavone crazy with her deceptive drop shots and lobs. The Italian needs to up the aggression to stand a chance.

Pick: Radwanska in 2 sets

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Stanford day 2: Virtual byes in action

Stanford schedule:

Match focus:

Tamira Paszek vs Alla Kudryavtseva

With Yvonne Meusburger sparkling results in the last few weeks, Tamira Paszek is no longer the top ranked Austrian. Will this spur Tamira to break her slump? Judging by her performance on her best surface, grass, she is far from getting herself together. There is just no confidence in her shots and errors are flowing freely. Alla is a qualifier and she has already accustomed herself to the courts with a few wins under her belt. She should be happy that she drew a virtual bye for this Premier tournament.

Pick: Kudryavtseva in 2 sets

Yanina Wickmayer vs. Daniela Hantuchova

Yanina Wickmayer has really done nothing for this year except for a sporadic win once every 3 tournaments. She did reach the semi-finals of Eastbourne, but she got promptly kicked out of Wimbledon in the next week. Daniela is also suffering from the same fate. She has a few good wins here and there, but is never consistent enough to make an impact on the main events. If somebody has to win, I guess it has to be Daniela. Her superior record over Yanina (5-0) will be an indication that she knows how to play the Belgian. However, given how shaky Daniela has been in recent months, I won't be surprised if Yanina claims her first win over the Slovak.

Pick: Hantuchova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Samantha Stosur, Alla Kudryavtseva, Varvara Lepchenko
Upset alert: Monica Niculescu, Urszula Radwanska

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Bastaad, Bad Gastein F: Serena undefeated on clay this year

Bastaad final:

Serena Williams def. Johanna Larsson 6-4 6-1

Never in doubt, Serena clinches her first international title of her career, and enjoyed a perfect clay season this year. With this win, she is riding on a winning streak of 28 and ties with Anabel Medina Garrigues with the most number of clay titles among active players. She was a mess in the first set though, but once she got that out of the way, she cruised through the match. Larsson needs to be given credit for playing well in her home country. Hopefully she will improve on this showing and break into the top 32.

Bad Gastein final:

Yvonne Meusburger def. Andrea Hlavackova 7-5 6-2

One player did win her homecountry this week and she was Yvonne Meusburger. Riding on her new wave of confidence in recent weeks, she didn't drop a set this week and finally clinched her first tour title after so many years on tour. With this win, Yvonne is in the top 60 and enjoying her career high ranking. I have to admit that her game is not aesthetically pleasing, but it works. So kudos to Yvonne for putting in the hard work.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bastaad, Bad Gastein QF: Larsson to bolster local hopes

Bastaad schedule:

Klara Zakopalova vs. Richel Hogenkamp
Johanna Larsson vs. Mathilde Johansson
Serena Williams vs. Lourdes Dominguez Lino
Flavia Pennetta vs. Virginie Razzano

Bad Gastein:

Karin Knapp vs. Annika Beck
Arantxa Rus vs. Yvonne Meusburger
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner vs. Elina Svitolina
Lisa-Maria Moser vs. Andrea Hlavackova

Match focus:

Johanna Larsson vs. Mathilde Johansson

Local girl Johanna Larsson will be looking to reach her first semi-final in a while in her own country in Sweden. Even though clay is not her best surface, she manages to win her matches to reach the last 8. Johansson is the better clay court player, but Johanna can make use of the crowd's support to get into Mathilde's head. The Frenchwoman is well known for her mental fragility anyway. If Larsson hangs on, she has a good chance of reaching the last 4.

Pick: Larsson in 3 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Virginie Razzano

Seems like Flavia Pennetta can only win via her opponent's retirement. She is lucky that Simona injured her back and had to retire as she was already down a set. She will face the equally experienced Razzano for a place in the last 4. Pennetta needs to grab this rare chance to reach her first final since Hobart in 2012 with the open draw. She will be the favourite against Razzano, whose game is prone to errors. Flavia just needs to be consistent and wait for the errors to leak.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 sets

Karin Knapp vs. Annika Beck

Annika Beck looked shaky in her last match and will be thoroughly tested against Karin Knapp. The Italian is playing herself to form, and will be looking to advance to her first semi-final since... 2008? Knapp has the tools to beat the youngster, but she cannot rush things as Beck will absorb everything and make her hit the extra ball. That said, Beck must be feeling tired after her tussle the day before, so I think an upset is possible here.

Pick: Knapp in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Klara Zakopalova, Yvonne Meusburger
Upset alert: Annika Beck

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

I need help!

Does anybody know how to sort out blog entries?
By default it is sorted by date of entry... But I'm thinking of sorting out by tournaments so that it is easier to refer.
Any type of help is appreciated! Thanks!

Bastaad, Bad Gastein day 4: Will Pennetta ever recapture her former glory?

Bastaad schedule:

Richel Hogenkamp vs. Lesia Tsurenko
Flavia Pennetta vs. Simona Halep
Serena Williams vs. Anna Tatishvili
Mathilde Johansson vs. Andrea Gamiz

Bad Gastein schedule:

Mandy Minella vs. Annika Beck
Yvonne Meusburger vs. Irina-Camelia Begu
Petra Martic vs. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner
Arantxa Rus vs. Estrella Cabeza Candela
Elina Svitolina vs. Chanelle Scheepers

Match focus:

Flavia Pennetta vs. Simona Halep

Flavia Pennetta's comeback so far has been lacklustre as she struggled to maintain her form throughout the entire match. There will be times where she plays brilliantly, followed by errors and uninspired play. One has to wonder if she continues like this, will she retire at the end of the year? Being 31, age definitely is a factor against the younger opponents, such as her opponent Simona. Halep is riding on the best form of her life and will run for hours if needed. Pennetta will have to conjure something special to beat this in form girl.

Pick: Halep in 2 sets

Yvonne Meusburger vs. Irina-Camelia Begu

Showing no signs of fatigue, last week's finalist Yvonne Meusburger ruthlessly dismissed her first round opponent with 2 bagels. This is a bad sign for Begu, who has done almost nothing this season. Meusburger's form is continuing and Begu is likely to be the next victim. With tournament favourites like Andrea Petkovic and Mona Barthel out in the early rounds, Yvonne might very well end up with her first tour title here.

Pick: Meusburger in 2 sets

Arantxa Rus vs. Estrella Cabeza Candela

Arantxa Rus finally wins a match! She stops her main tour losing streak at 13, winning zero matches on the main tour this year. Sadly, her run is going to end against in form Cadela, who just reached her maiden semi-final last week in Palermo. Candela's clay court game will be too much for the impatient Dutch player. If Rus manages to win this, it will be a very positive sign that she is back to her normal level.

Pick: Candela in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Lesia Tsurenko, Serena Williams, Annika Beck
Upset alert: Irina-Camelia Begu, Chanelle Scheepers