Saturday, 31 August 2013

US Open day 6: Simona to shine

Upset of the previous day:

 Ekaterina Makarova def. Sabine Lisicki 6-4 7-5

Volatile Sabine hasn't found the balance between offensive and defensive, falling tamely to Makarova. The German's powerful game will be a tough one to tame, and she needs a good coach to tell her when to attack. Her constant aggressive play will cause her to hit spectacular ugly errors and will do no good if she doesn't have a plan B. Makarova will play her first 4th round match here at the US Open, which is great for the humble Russian.

Match focus:

Maria Kirilenko vs. Simona Halep

Player of the moment, Simona Halep, will attempt to cause another upset here, facing the higher ranked Kirilenko. The Russian hasn't done anything much since reaching the quarter-finals of Paris, so Simona should have the advantage. The only problem for the Romanian is whether she has any fuel left in her tank after playing so many matches.

Pick: Halep in 2 sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Camila Giorgi

The hard hitting Italian's game will either blast Caroline off the courts, or she will hit herself out of the tournament. I'm leaning towards the latter. Caroline's game works extremely well with brainless ball bashers like Giorgi, and Camila doesn't have the patience nor the experience to handle Wozniacki's loopy balls.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2 sets

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Julia Glushko

Overcoming inspired Duval in dominating style, Hantuchova will be confident against qualifier, Glushko. If Daniela wins this, it will be her first 4th round appearance since... I can't remember. Lol! The Slovak shouldn't have any problems with the young Israeli, unless Daniela goes back to her mental midget days.

Pick: Hantuchova in 2 sets

Alize Cornet vs. Victoria Azarenka

Bad news for Alize: Azarenka in in impeccable form this week. Even though she is dressed like a grandma, she certainly plays like a woman in her prime. Not to say that Alize cannot trouble her though, as she did took a set of Vika in Paris. However, on Azarenka's favorite hard courts, she will run over Cornet in double quick time.

Pick: Azarenka in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Victoria Azarenka, Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic
Upset alert: Maria Kirilenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Petra Kvitova

Friday, 30 August 2013

US Open day 5: Robson to topple Li again?

Upset of the previous day:

Flavia Pennetta def. Sara Errani 6-3 6-1

I was right. Sara Errani is the weakest top 4 seed in a while to be featured in a Grand Slam. On clay, there is no doubt she is one of the top 4 players. However, outside of clay, she's very vulnerable to be overpowered by the others. Pennetta played a clean and smart match, like she has always on the American hard courts. There was nothing much Sara could have done better. Flavia was just too good. With her semi-final points dropping, Errani will be falling down the rankings, which might be a good thing as there is less pressure for her.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Laura Robson vs. Li Na

A rematch of last year's 3rd round clash, Li will be looking to exact revenge on Laura Robson, who ousted her in her breakout tournament. Last year, Laura had nothing to lose and swung freely. This year, British hopes are all pinned on her and she has the pressure of performing well now. Li needs to be patient and wait for Robson's errors. If she commits the error first, the match might be over quickly. Li is the one who has nothing to lose now, defending her points from last year, so she should be the one who is less uptight.

Pick: Li in 3 sets

Kaia Kanepi vs. Angelique Kerber

Kaia Kanepi seems to be able to shake the rust off instantly as she did so many times throughout her career. She wins 2 matches and will face the scrappy German, Angelique Kerber. The Estonian's power game will be put to the test against the quick German. This is where match play is important. Despite coming in with poor form, the determined German should have the advantage of match play, and grind out a tight win over Kanepi.

Pick: Kerber in 3 sets

Jamie Hampton vs. Sloane Stephens

The future of American tennis will be played on Arthur Ashe stadium as the marquee match. Sloane Stephens reversed her passive game to dominate Radwanska, which is the way she should be playing. If she plays as well as she did against the Pole, Hampton will be brushed aside. Jamie does have a nice game herself, but she's too prone to errors and her weaker backhand tends to be exploited. I expect a similar match to their previous encounter in Wimbledon, with Sloane emerging as the winner.

Pick: Stephens in 2 tight sets

Ekaterina Makarova vs. Sabine Lisicki

The powerful Lisicki will face fellow hard-hitter, Ekaterina Makarova. The difference between these 2 players is that Lisicki has a far better movement then Makarova, who plays a bit like a lefty Davenport. However, Makarova's second serve can be attacked and Sabine will be sure to pounce all over it. If the German maintains her standard she has shown for her past 2 matches, she should have this in the bag.

Pick: Lisicki in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska
Upset alert: None!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

US Open day 4: Can Pennetta upset Errani?

Upset of the previous day:

Zheng Jie def. Venus Williams 6-3 2-6 7-6(5)

It wasn't an upset per se, but it was certainly upsetting to see Venus giving her all only to come up short. Zheng played well but the match was really on Venus' racket. Fighting with all her heart, Venus came back from a set down deficit and a 0-3 score in the third set. However, she missed the crucial backhand volley at 5-all and that seemed to deflate her, as she sent a tame serve out. Pity as Venus was in great form against Flipkens and had a good chance of going far. Nevertheless, the Chinese must be congratulated for her pace absorbing play, who always seem to trouble the top players.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Flavia Pennetta vs. Sara Errani

An all Italian clash between the current and former top Italian player, Pennetta will look to show who's the better hard court player. The veteran has always played her best tennis on the US hardcourts, even capturing Carlsbad a few years ago and reaching the quarter-finals, giving Serena Williams a great fight. Errani did post a double bagel result in her first round, but it was mostly due to Rogowska's woeful play rather than her own. Does Pennetta stand a chance? Definitely. But the concern for Flavia is whether she can maintain that level for the whole match.

Pick: Errani in 3 long drawn sets

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Peng Shuai

Kuznetsova wins a match for a change. Could it be the start of her resurgence again? Well, she faces a tough opponent in Peng Shuai, who can hit a mean flat ball and can cause an upset here if she's not careful. Kuznetsova just has to play her game and it should be enough. However, she needs to be punished for wearing that hideous outfit. The color combination is akin to an orange turned mouldy. Just for that, she deserves to lose a set.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 3 sets

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Victoria Duval

Daniela Hantuchova must have prayed to the right god. Her passage to the later rounds have been paved for her following the upsets of Petrova and Stosur. Duval played well against the Aussie, but there will be a letdown following such a high. Besides, Samantha was just absolutely dire in her match, so she made things easier for the young American. With years of experience, Hantuchova stands a good chance of subduing the youngster. That is if her mind can handle it.

Pick: Hantuchova in 2 set

Alison Riske vs. Mona Barthel

Mona Barthel finally wins a Grand Slam match to advance to the 2nd round. She faces the in form Alison Riske, who carried her grass court form over to the US hard courts. The big serving American has a chance against the volatile German, who seems to lose when she is expected to win. With the home crowd behind her, the American can cause the upset here if she plays to her normal standards.

Pick: Riske in 3 sets

Kaia Kanepi vs. Anna Schmiedlova

Kaia Kanepi mysteriously skipped all the US Open warm up events and came to New York without much match play. Still, she managed to outlast Vania King to win a tight 3 setter. This might indicate she's still carrying an injury and doesn't want to aggrevate it in smaller events. Pity as the Estonian can play some mean tennis, but is always sidelined when she is hitting her stride. She faces a relatively unknown player, Anna Schmiedlova. However, given how much match play she has, you have to favour the Slovakian, who is getting some kind of breakthrough recently.

Pick: Schiedlova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Sabine Lisicki, Yaroslava Shvedova
Upset alert: Sorana Cirstea, Mona Barthel, Kaia Kanepi, Angelique Kerber, Hsieh Su-Wei

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

US Open day 3: Next seed to fall, Stephens?

Upset of the previous day:

Victoria Duval def. Samantha Stosur 5-7 6-4 6-4

Totally did not see this one coming. It's true that Sam recently had a coach change, but losing to Duval who has never won a main draw match is just mindboggling. The American played inspired tennis, but as a former champion and a veteran of the tour, she should be able to weather the storm. Just an overall disappointing match from the Aussie. Particularly shocking too as she had just won a title less than a month ago.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Urszula Radwanska vs. Sloane Stephens

Stephens remains an enigma, challenging the top players while barely scrapping through the lower ranked ones. Against Minella, she was absolutely atrocious and only won because Minella couldn't handle the pressure. I hope she doesn't revert to that disgusting pushing play as it will not advance her career any further. Radwanska will be confident of her chances if Sloane continues her lacklastre play.

Pick: Radwanska in 3 sets

Venus Williams vs. Zheng Jie

Venus Williams was ruthless in her destruction of Flipkens, and takes her place as the 15th seed. She will face fiesty Chinese, Zheng Jie, who loves returning big serves. Venus will need to be careful with her service games and not get bothered by Zheng's aggressive returns. She herself needs to return Jie's weak serve well, or else it might be a wasted effort for her first round. If Venus is healthy, she shouldn't have any problems dispatching Zheng.

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Eugenie Bouchard vs. Angelique Kerber

Kerber's form is in the pits and Bouchard has a very good chance of an upset here. The Canadian will need to attack Kerber's weak serve and be on the aggressive constantly. Kerber's confidence is shot, so she might not be the normal retrieving wall that she is. So, by taking initiative, Eugenie can oust the German and mark her first win over a top 10 player.

Pick: Bouchard in 3 sets

Jelena Jankovic vs. Alisa Kleybanova

Jelena did a good job of taking out promising Keys, and will now face the inspirational Kleybanova. Obviously, it will be a tough task for Alisa to take out a top 10 seed as of now, but I'm sure she will just play with no pressure and swing freely. Any match for her is a bonus. Jankovic needs to be prepared to weather the storm as Kleybanova can hit a mean ball.

Pick: Jankovic in 2 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Barty finally wins a main draw match as she tries to justify yet another wildcard awarded to her. I was initially impressed by how calm the youngster was, but she was almost too emotionless on court, like she didn't care. I guess she was thrown into the limelight a little too soon and found herself out of her depth. Pavlyuchenkova seems to be back on track, having subdued Razzano. She shouldn't have any problems beating the young Aussie.

Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Li Na, Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki
Upset alerts: Sorana Cirstea, Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Ekaterina Makarova, Jamie Hampton

US Open day 2: Can Svetlana win a match?

Upset of the previous day:

Alisa Kleybanova def. Monica Puig 6-4 3-6 7-5

I am sure Alisa is as shocked as I am, winning a long 3 set match against a young teenager. Puig seemed to be on the fast track to tennis stardom, but is showing signs of mental frailty early in her career. The focus though shouldn't be on Puig. It should be on the courageous comeback of Kleybanova. She not only conquered cancer, but conquer a future tennis star as well. Any win for her is a bonus. Well done Alisa!

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Mallory Burdette

Ever since being forced out of Wimbledon, Kuznetsova is barely winning matches. Can she overcome her demons here against Burdette? Mallory has a handy game but if Kuznetsova isn't at her brainfart best, the Russian can defeat the American easily. However, Kuznetsova's double loss to Davis a few weeks ago shows that her fickle mind is back in full force and Burdette has a good chance of clinching the upset here.

Pick: Burdette in 3 sets

Bojana Jovanovski vs. Andrea Petkovic

For someone to lose to the slumping Julia Goerges, it must mean she is almost a walking bye. That is how I will describe Bojana Jovanovski. The Serb does tend to perform well in big events though, so she might wake up for this event. Petkovic will not allow her to do that as the German looks to be fully healthy now and ready to charge up the rankings again. I would say she is a sure win, but who know? Even Arvidsson won a match yesterday!

Pick: Petkovic in 2 sets

Nadia Petrova vs. Julia Glushko

I'll be honest here, I've never seen Glushko hit a single ball before. However, against Petrova, who hasn't played since Wimbledon and hasn't won a match since Madrid, anyone would stand a chance. Not too sure what is going on with the Russian. Maybe a loss of motivation? Or concentration on doubles? Nobody knows. She's barely trying so I think she will hang up her racket at the end of the year. Pity as she did have a good chance of re-entering the top 10 earlier this year.

Pick: Glushko in 2 sets

Julia Goerges vs. Christina McHale

This match between 2 slumping players will be equivalent to choosing your poison. Goerges and McHale had disastrous seasons so far, and one of them is going to get worst. Goerges did win a match in New Haven recently, and enjoyed some doubles success. So she should be the lesser of 2 evils. Not too sure why McHale is regressing so much. Maybe she is suffering from burnout, or she needs a new coach.

Pick: Goerges in 3 sets

Peng Shuai vs. Yvonne Meusburger

One of WTA's most mystical players, Yvonne Meusburger went missing after winning her first title in Bad Gastein. Normally, players will take advantage of the better ranking to get more practice before the Slams, but the Austrian just disappeared. Her good form might be gone by the time she gets on court, moreover on a different surface. Not too sure about her crazy schedule... Peng was leading Wozniacki before having to retire due to dizziness. She should be able to dominate against the rather passive Yvonne and complete the match without fainting.

Pick: Peng in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Samantha Stosur, Victoria Azarenka, Sara Errani, Alize Cornet, Simona Halep
Upset alert: Tsvetana Pironkova, Casey Dellacqua, Nadia Petrova, Klara Zakopalova, Jana Cepelova