Sunday, 9 February 2014

Doha day 1: Petrova's back

Match focus:

Peng Shuai vs. Nadia Petrova

One will be forgiven if they thought Nadia Petrova has given up on singles. After a stellar end to 2012, the Russian faded into oblivion in 2013, and suffered a personal tragedy which made her take some time off the tour. Fresh out of qualifying with a few wins under her belt, Nadia stages her comeback against Peng. With a 4-3 lead in heads to heads and winning their last 2 matches, Nadia would like her chances against the Chinese. Nadia needs to serve well and be prepared to scramble. If she's not 100% fit, there's no way she's going to win this. My heart says Nadia, but my mind says Peng. Fitness will definitely be a factor here if it goes to 3 sets.

Pick: Peng in 3 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova vs. Roberta Vinci

I have no idea what happened to Vinci this year, but her form has been non existent. Apart from her doubles success, she has zero wins this year in singles. Despite owning a 3-0 lead against Pironkova, I don't think it matters as she's obviously feeling the strain/or not motivated enough. This is a golden chance for the Bulgarian to snatch her first win over the Italian.

Pick: Pironkova in 2 tight sets

Petra Cetkovska vs. Sloane Stephens

I've always wondered why Cetkovska wasn't ranked higher. The Czech beauty has the variety and can hit hard when needed. The only thing holding her back is her mental game. These two had epic battles for the past 2 years in Wimbledon, where Cetkovska lost in 3 tight sets. Can she take revenge this time on hard courts? Sloane has the tendency to lose concentration midway through the match. If Petra takes advantage of that, she can snare a rare win over the American. Sadly, her head wouldn't allow to do so.

Pick: Stephens in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Flavia Pennetta, Venus Williams
Upset alert: Roberta Vinci, Annika Beck

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