Monday, 30 September 2013

Beijing day 4: Can Zhang cause another upset?

Schedule of play:

S. Williams vs F. Schiavone
S. Lisicki vs V. Williams
R. Vinci vs S. Zhang
M. Kirilenko vs U. Radwanska
M. Niculescu vs C. Wozniacki
V. Lepchenko vs P. Kvitova
S. Stephens vs E. Bouchard
L. Robson vs A. Kerber
B. Jovanovski vs N. Li
Match focus:

Sabine Lisicki vs. Venus Williams

The resurgent Venus Williams will face a fellow big server in her first match in Beijing. Sabine Lisicki is ever so unpredictable, so it's difficult to predict what will happen. Sabine does own a victory over Venus back in 2009 in Charleston, but Venus has levelled it in 2010 with a win in Dubai. With the American aging, Sabine has to feel confident of her chances. But Venus will probably be inspired by her Tokyo run to string another round of wins here, so it will be a tough one to pick. I would always give the advantage to the more experienced player, and Venus has tons of it.

Pick: Venus in 3 sets

Roberta Vinci vs. Zhang Shuai

Zhang Shuai followed her impressive form recently by dismissing higher ranked Peng Shuai easily in straight sets. She will need to come up with the goods against Vinci, who is almost reaching the top 10. Vinci has been upset early in Tokyo, so Zhang has a chance here. If the Chinese manages to beat Roberta, it will be her best career win. Let's hope the Chinese crowd gets her through this, and she has enough mental strength to finish the job. It won't be easy, but it's definitely possible.

Pick: Zhang in 3 sets

Laura Robson vs. Angelique Kerber

Laura Robson has had a pretty disappointing year despite her rather high ranking. She has not reach a single semi-final this year, and her big wins are followed by ugly losses. Against Kerber, the recent Tokyo finalist, she will attempt to cause an upset again. However, Angelique's game is the perfect nemesis for Laura's all-out attacking game. Kerber will always make her hit that extra ball to draw the error. Sadly, I do not see how Robson is going to win this one.

Pick: Kerber in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams
Upset alerts: Roberta Vinci, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Beijing day 3: Ivanovic faces Italian test

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Flavia Pennetta vs. Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic will face the resurgent Flavia Pennetta in her opening match here. Pennetta is high on confidence after reaching the semi-finals in US Open, and will look to get her first win over the Serbian. Despite Ana winning all 3 encounters, all these matches were fairly close. Can Pennetta finally notch a win over the former number 1? My heart says Flavia, while my head says Ana. Either way, it should be a good match with hard fought points.

Pick: Ivanovic in 3 sets

Jelena Jankovic vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Another Serbian in trouble is Jelena Jankovic. She faces Seoul finalist, Pavlyuchenkova, who owns a 3-1 advantage over her. Jankovic's form was pretty dire in Tokyo, losing tamely to Bouchard. She will have to bark up or else Pavlyuchenkova will boss her around the court endlessly. The Russian's game seems to fit well with Jankovic, and knows how to beat her, even though she lost their latest encounter this year. Jelena needs to serve well, or else she'll be having a short lived Asian season.

Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets

Zhang Shuai vs. Peng Shuai

The Chinese crowd will be in attendance for this all Chinese clash in Beijing. Zhang Shuai's recent form has been devastating, culminating in her first tour title, and a final appearance in 125K Ningbo. Can Peng Shuai show who's the boss to the younger Chinese? Or will she succumb to the Zhang rail train. Both play similar games and I believe this is where experience counts. With all the expectations on her to do well, Zhang might crumble. As for Peng, she has the pressure as well as the higher ranked player, but the focus is not so much on her this time.

Pick: Peng in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka
Upset alert: Magdalena Rybarikova, Sorana Cirstea, Monica Puig

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Tokyo final: Will the real Kvitova please stand up?

Tokyo final:

Petra Kvitova def. Angelique Kerber 6-2 0-6 6-3

Petra Kvitova is impossible to predict as she goes from hitting her winners to missing the entire court in a matter of minutes. Kerber must be immensely frustrated by her inability to capitalise on the errors that Kvitova were gifting to her in the second set. It is also extremely antagonising for a tennis fan to see why a player like Kvitova cannot maintain her level throughout a match. I feel that Kvitova needs a new coach to make her stay focused. She's too all over the place but with the proper guidance, she has the game to dominate the sport. Well, if Kvitova is satisfied with mediocrity, I guess it's her choice. Well done anyway. 2 premier titles this year but barely in the top 10. That's how uneven her season has been.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Tokyo final: All lefty final

Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber

Both players came through their semi-finals with hard fought wins, so whoever wins this is a deserving winner. Kerber showed that she's capable of playing aggressive tennis when it mattered, and Kvitova steadied herself against Venus after a slow start. These lefties however, play a much different game compared to each other. Petra relies on hard heavy groundstrokes while Kerber is happy running around the court all day. I believe this match will rely very much on Kvitova's racket. If the Czech is on and hitting the lines at will, Kerber has no answer. However, Angelique has a chance of getting into the volatile Czech's head with her tireless defense and might salvage a disaster season with a win here.

Pick: Kerber in 3 tight sets

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Tokyo SF: Comeback queens galore

Venus Williams vs. Petra Kvitova

Venus Williams continues to fight her way through the tournament as she outlasted the Canadian teenager in 3 sets. Her fitness seems fit by the looks of it, and she will be tested by the equally hard hitting Czech, Petra Kvitova. Petra's fitness wasn't a problem as she won two matches today and it will be a showcase of power tennis. Venus won their last encounter when she just came back from her injury, so she should have the upper hand in this match. Venus just needs to hang tough and no give Kvitova too many second serves to attack. If she plays diligently, she will advance to her first Tokyo final.

Pick: Williams in 2 tight sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Angelique Kerber

 Looking at their paths to the semi-finals, Kerber has the more impressive run, not dropping a set throughout the week. However, Caroline won their last match in Indian Wells, so I expect a similar result here. Caroline's endless defensive game will force Kerber to go for her shots, something which she is not used to. Judging by her performance against Radwanska, the German can take the initiative. Just that against someone like Caroline who gives away nothing, it will be tough to do for all the points.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2 tight sets

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tokyo day 5: Wide open for Venus now?

Schedule of play

Match focus:

Venus Williams vs. Eugenie Bouchard

What was supposed to be a mouth watering clash between Jankovic and Williams turned out to be Venus vs. Eugenie. The youngster didn't go according to script and upset the lacklustre Serb in straight sets. Eugenie's game is steady but she can be overpowered. Venus will be looking to inflict the same damage as what she had done to Simona. If Venus is playing like she did against Simona, she should have this in the bag.

Pick: Williams in 2 tight sets

Lucie Safarova vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Lucie Safarova is arguably having her worst year on tour, but still manages to own Stosur this year. I guess Lucie really likes the high bouncing balls that Sam produces. She will try to continue her winning streak against the revived Caroline Wozniacki. The heads to heads is tied at 2 all, and Caro won their last match in Dubai this year. I expect a tougher fight this time as Lucie has gained back her confidence while Wozniacki is back at her defensive best. I believe Caro's mental strength will shine through this time, as Lucie will try for impossible shots during important points.

Pick: Wozniacki in 3 tight sets

Angelique Kerber vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

It seems that Kerber is back at her best, dispatching Ana Ivanovic with ease. However, Ana has the tendency to just crumble against higher ranked players, so it's not that big of a surprise. Kerber will be put to the test against the crafty Radwanska, who is steadily progressing through the draw. Both players have not lost a set yet, so it will be a long tough fight. Agnieszka won their last encounter here in the semi-finals, thrashing the German with ease. Look set for another repeat here. Kerber will not go down easily, but Radwanska will win all the important points.

Pick: Radwanska in 2 sets

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tokyo day 4: Can Venus back it up?

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Venus Williams vs. Simona Halep

Venus Williams conquered the sick Azarenka and will be facing another tough test against Simona Halep. The Romanian will get many balls back and make Venus hit the winner. There are some good signs for the American, who moved beautifully and seemed energetic on court. Hopefully she can keep that form and play to her best against Halep. Now, we have to see if Venus can back up her win with another one against the in form Simona. It will be close, but I expect the slam champion to edge out a win.

Pick: Williams in 3 sets

Angelique Kerber vs. Ana Ivanovic

Kerber has been under the radar recently but she's cruising through the tournament with minimal fuss. She will face a tough test against the impressive Ivanovic, who has been dominant in her last 2 matches. One thing's for sure, Ana isn't going to be serving breadsticks and bagels to Kerber. The dogged German will run down every ball and make sure the Serbian earns her points. With her fickle mentality, you would expect Ana to break sooner or later. However, Kerber's form hasn't been too impressive either, so it's anyone's game. Still going to give Angelique the edge here.

Pick: Kerber in 3 sets

Madison Keys vs. Petra Kvitova

If there's anyone who has mastered the art of winning ugly, it's Petra Kvitova. The Czech hasn't had a straightforward win since the longest time, but always manages to rein it in when it matters. Against Keys, she will no doubt be challenged. But like always, she will make the shots when it matters and if things are going too well, she'll stink up the court for one set to make sure it goes the distance. Judging by her performance so far, Petra hasn't put in the necessary work ethic needed to be a number 1 player. However, if she's not bothered, why should we?

Pick: Kvitova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic
Upset alert: Simona Halep, Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tokyo day 3: All eyes on Errani

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Sara Errani vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Being painfully honest after her loss in US Open, Errani will try to buck up against the ever dangerous Kuznetsova. This is a tough one for the Italian as the Russian does everything better than her. The only thing Sara does better is fight. Errani will need to summon all her legs and fighting spirit to keep the hard hitting Russian at bay. If she can cling on with the Russian, Svetlana will give way. However, looking at how vulnerable Sara is now, I wouldn't bet on it.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 2 sets

Victoria Azarenka vs. Venus Williams

As much as I would like Venus Williams to do well, she is going to routed by Azarenka. The American's game doesn't have the firepower as before to subdue the Belarussian. Also, Azarenka's game has improved leaps and bounds since Venus' last victory over her. The crowd will be behind Venus, but the result will be never in doubt.

Pick: Azarenka in 2 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Wozniacki's woeful season still has her at number 8, despite not performing well in any of the Grand Slams. She will face resurgent Pennetta, who she owns a commanding 5-1 heads to heads. These 2 players always have nice match ups, so I don't expect anything different here. Pennetta's return to form will threaten the Dane's steady game, as the Italian will be taking the initiative. Judging from her dominant display in the first round, Flavia has a chance here.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 tight sets

Sure win bets: Jelena Jankovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Simona Halep
Upset alert: Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea, Kirsten Flipkens

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tokyo day 2: Poor Pavlyuchenkova

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Simona Halep

Ouch... This must hurt Pavlyuchenkova as she needs to play Simona Halep barely 24 hours after her heartbreaking final in Seoul. Halep will no doubt be the fitter one as she will run Pavlyuchenkova rugged. With her long drawn semi-finals and finals, I don't think Anastasia has the stamina to complete this match. This will either end with a retirement, or a beatdown by Simona.

Pick: Halep in 2 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Daniela Hantuchova

These 2 veterans who performed exceptionally well in US Open will face off in their opening matches. With Hantuchova ranked at 30, and Pennetta at 31, almost nothing separates these 2 players. The Italian leads their heads to heads 3-2 and won their most recent match in Beijing 2 years ago. This should be a good lead as to who will win this encounter. Pennetta's route to the semi-finals of US Open was much tougher than Daniela's quarter-final run. And Flavia will be more confident of her chances, after defeating quality opponents in New York.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 sets

Andrea Petkovic vs. Elena Vesnina

Andrea's comeback has hit a wall as she''s struggling to win matches these days. Last week's match against Schiavone was utter rubbish from the German, as both players played badly and committed numerous unforced errors. Let's hope things will get better for the German. Vesnina is establishing herself as a steady top 20 player, and will no doubt be a great hill for Petkovic to overcome. With her current form, it seems unlikely that Andrea can upset the Russian. Elena is just too steady for the over-zealous German.

Pick: Vesnina in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Kimiko Date-Krumm,  Magdalena Rybarikova, Kristina Mladenovic
Upset alert: Daniela Hantuchova, Peng Shuai, Eugenie Bouchard

Seoul final: Radwanska scrapes through

Seoul final:

Agnieszka Radwanska def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7(6) 6-3 6-4

Pavlyuchenkova gave her all against Radwanska but it wasn't enough to stop the Pole from clinching her 13th title. The Russian had her chances in the third set, but failed to convert her precious break points as Agnieszka was too tough on these important points. Now, the Russian can look forward to bringing this form towards a Premier event, while Radwanska will no doubt be a bit tired from this tighter than necessary final.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tokyo day 1: Last year for Tokyo

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Mona Barthel vs. Venus Williams

Venus Williams' health is always a question mark going into tournaments, and this is no exception. She will face the hard hitting German, Mona Barthel in her opening match. Venus will need to be ready for some hard balls as the German packs a punch and will not succumb easily. However, the frail mentality of Mona will become her undoing as she will definitely fold under the pressure of playing the great Venus Williams. The path doesn't get any easier for Venus though, as she will play top seed Azarenka if she wins this.

Pick: Williams in 2 tight sets

Julia Goerges vs. Sorana Cirstea

The Walking Dead has changed its shooting location to Tokyo's tennis courts, as 2 of the tour's most listless players take on each other in this guaranteed stink fest. Both Goerges and Cirstea have beem disgraceful in their recent tournaments, and this match will no doubt leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. No matter who wins, tennis loses. If only one of these girls know better and take a break and spare us from the misery.

Pick: Avoid at all costs

Alize Cornet vs. Samantha Stosur

Samantha Stosur has just become a shadow of herself ever since winning Carlsbad. She struggled to win matches, culminating in her embarrassing loss to Duval in New York. Cornet has been in decent form recently, but lost a puzzling match to Meusburger last week. Comparing them, I believe Cornet has a better chance as Meusburger did just win a title in Bad Gastein, unlike Duval who has done practically nothing. Stosur's lack of a coach will continue to haunt her as she plays aimlessly on the courts.

Pick: Cornet in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Sloane Stephens, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Kirsten Flipkens
Upset alert: Mona Barthel, Samantha Stosur, Klara Zakopalova