Monday, 31 March 2014

Charleston, Monterrey day 2: Williams sisters in action

Charleston schedule of play:

Monterrey schedule of play:

Not updated yet

Match focus:

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs. Venus Williams

Venus did well here last year, and will be looking forward to continue her good form in recent months. She will face the feisty Strycova, whose on-court antics are more famous than her game. Given how cool and collected Venus is, it is highly unlikely that she will be distracted by the Czech. If Venus stays healthy, she will be able to sweep pass Barbora with little difficulty.

Pick: Venus in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Jana Cepelova

Serena will be tired after her exploits in Miami. However, she gets a soft opponent against Cepelova in her opening match. Cepelova doesn't have the game to trouble Serena, and I don't expect Serena to struggle in anyway. She may take a few games to get used to the clay, but it'll be cruise control afterwards.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Caroline Garcia vs. Peng Shuai

Caroline Garcia is playing some of her best tennis in recent months, and looks good to fulfil the expectations layed on her initially. Peng is no pushover though, as she was narrowly close to defeating Kerber in Miami. This will be a good match but I believe Garcia will be the one with more confidence. Peng has the experience, but with doubles being her priority now, I'll go with the Frenchwoman.

Pick: Garcia in 3 sets

Coco Vandeweghe vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Coco Vandeweghe is coming off a great Miami, having upset Pavlyuchenkova and Stosur there. However, her game does not match well against Wozniacki's retrieving game as she will be prone to errors. Caroline relishes in taking down opponents who only know how to play with power. Unless Coco has a day where she just cannot miss, the Dane is going to win this match.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2 sets

Urszula Radwanska vs. Ana Ivanovic

Poor Urzsula just cannot catch a break. Ever since coming back from her injury layoff, she hasn't won a match, and doesn't seem to be breaking the trend here against the 2nd seed Ivanovic. Ana was humiliated by Kvitova in Miami, but she will be eager to improve on that performance. Frankly, Urzsula doesn't have any weapons that could hurt Ana anyway.

Pick: Ivanovic in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Luksika Kumkhum, Monica Puig, Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Elena Vesnina, Sorana Cirstea
Upset alert: Samantha Stosur, Marina Erakovic, Peng Shuai

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Charleston, Monterrey day 1: Tough test for Kirilenko

Charleston schedule of play:

Monterrey schedule of play:

Match focus:

Maria Kirilenko vs. Belinda Bencic

Fresh from her injury layoff, Kirilenko will be put to the test immediately against rising Belinda Bencic. The Swiss will be sure to make Kirilenko move around the court and test if her knee is back to 100%. I don't think Kirilenko will make it through here immediately. She needs a softer draw and maybe a lower tier event to warm herself up. This is a golden chance for Bencic to get a good win over a good opponent.

Pick: Bencic in 2 sets

Julia Goerges vs. Virginie Razzano

Goerges had only one good win this year, which is over Errani in Melbourne. She went back to her errant ways since then and looks to be happy with her mediocrity. Razzano is a dangerous player and these 2 had a close match in 2009, where Julia won in a third set tiebreak. With the German's non-existent form now, Razzano should be able to bag this. Still, you'll never know which Julia Goerges will turn up.

Pick: Razzano in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Jarmila Gajdosova

Jarmila has been hounded by personal problems for the past 2 years, and it's nice to see her qualify for the main draw. However, she faces a tough match against Svitolina, who is in the form of her life. It will be difficult for the Aussie to break down Elina, unless she has an off day. Elina should be able to cruise to an easy victory here.

Pick: Svitolina in 2 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm

Flavia is playing the best tennis of her career now, and it will take a lot for Kimiko to upset her. The Japanese does have what it takes to trouble her, but the Italian's fitness should be able to wear Date down. Flavia has a nice draw here and it will be a surprise if she doesn't make the finals.

Pick: Pennetta in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs. Donna Vekic

After her massive choke against Zakopalova in Florianopolis, Garbine was never the same player. She lost both her opening matches in Indian Wells and Miami, choking against Tomljanovic in Key Biscayne. Donna will give her a good fight here, having played herself to form in the US tournaments. The Spaniard will need to steady herself here, or else this might spiral into a losing streak.

Pick: Vekic in 3 tight sets

Sure win bets: Karolina Pliskova, Timea Babos, Lauren Davis, Lucie Safarova, Christina McHale
Upset alert: Kristina Mladenovic, Garbine Muguruza, Maria Kirilenko, Michelle Larcher De Brito, Yaroslava Shvedova

Miami scorecard: GOAT Serena back

A+: Serena Williams

7 titles in Miami, 4 consecutive mandatory Premier titles. Nothing is going to stop the world number 1.

A: Li Na

Despite playing sub-par tennis, managed to reach the finals. Still a long way to go if she wants to challenge Serena.

A-: Dominika Cibulkova

Top 10 debut by defeating her ex-nemesis Agnieszka Radwanska. Could have reach the finals if she won the important points in the semi-finals

B+: Maria Sharapova

Struggled throughout the tournament but turned it on against Kvitova. Did well enough against Serena but still wasn't enough.

B: Caroline Wozniacki

For once, Caroline played well and showed signs of her game when she was number 1. Still mentally weak when it mattered against Li.

B-: Petra Kvitova

Humiliated Ivanovic, but showed her flaky form again playing Sharapova.

C+: Venus Williams

What fight the senior Williams has shown despite her illness. Pity that her illness struck here, but still put up a good fight against Cibulkova

C: Elina Svitolina

Almost finished Agnieszka in her match. The one to watch in coming months.

C-: Caroline Garcia

Went toe to toe with Serena Williams. Another youngster to watch who is on the rise.

D: Ana Ivanovic

Just when you thought she was ready to challenge the top girls again, she eats 2 bagels from Kvitova. Some things never change.

E: Sara Errani

Out of the top 10 now. Over ranked for the longest time. Maybe it's time to lower her expectations.

F: Jelena Jankovic

What a flop for the Serbian, losing in her first match when she's in good form. A golden opportunity wasted.

Miami final: Another record breaking feat by Serena

Miami final:

Serena Williams def. Li Na 7-5 6-1

Down 2-5 in the first set, Serena turned it up a notch just like that, and cruised to another Miami title. This is her 7th title here in 12 appearances, making her the winning-est player of this event, and the player with the most Miami titles. There was little Li could do once Serena switched it on. Despite her service being sub-par, Serena rallied on and grinded until her form is back. This shows how great Serena is as a champion, and how powerless the opponent can be although they are playing well themselves. Going into the clay season, Serena will be the one to beat, having a flawless clay record last year. With this performance, I don't think Serena will be challenged this year as well.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Miami F: Number 1 and 2 clash for the title

Miami final:

Serena Williams vs. Li Na

A fitting final for the top 2 seeds to vie for the prestigious Miami title. Serena was almost impeccable in her match against Sharapova. She fought when she was down, weathered the storm and served bombs when needed. Li had more trouble closing out Cibulkova, but staggered to the finish line. The American is the huge favourite here no doubt. Still, Li Na can make things interesting as she is now the underdog. Let's see if she'll play better with less pressure.

Pick: Serena Williams in 2 sets

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Miami SF: Mouth-watering clashes

Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova

2 of the tour's biggest names will vie for a place in the Miami finals. A rematch of last year's final, Sharapova will be looking to reverse her losing streak against Williams. However, that seems like an uphill task as Serena looks to be playing well again. Maria has been shaky this whole week, so to reach the semi-finals is an achievement in itself. Serena should be able to take this easily.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Li Na

Li will relish her chances against Cibulkova, having defeated her 7 times and already 2 times this year. Cibulkova can take heart that with her semi-final appearance, she will make her top 10 debut. Li's game seem to match well against the Slovak, so there should be no surprises here. Li just needs to keep her unforced errors in check and attack Dominika's vulnerable serve.

Pick: Li in 2 sets

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Miami QF: Radwanska out for revenge

Match focus:

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka seems to have recovered from her injury which was hampering her in Indian Wells. She will be out for revenge against Cibulkova, who upset her in the semi-finals of Melbourne. Cibulkova subdued a resurgent Venus Williams, and is just one win away from the top 10. She will be confident of her chance against Radwanska, but I think the Pole just had an off day in Melbourne. If Agnieszka is healthy and plays to her normal standard, she should be able to win this.

Pick: Radwanska in 2 sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Li Na

Destroying Sloane Stephens ought to give Caroline Wozniacki a much needed confidence boost. However, the American was just horrid in her match and Li is a much tougher opponent. Caroline's game is just too reactive to make a dent on Li's aggressive game. If the Chinese hits her spots, Wozniacki can provide little resistance. Well, it's an achievement for Caroline to reach the quarter-finals, but this should be where her journey ends.

Pick: Li in 2 sets

Miami QF: Shaky Sharapova

Match focus:

Maria Sharapova vs. Petra Kvitova

Sharapova has not been in great form for 2014, and she struggled supremely against Flipkens. She will be due for a drubbing by the dangerous Kvitova if she continues her errant ways. Petra shut the doubters wrong by winning the last 12 games against Ivanovic, giving her the dreaded double bagel. The Czech looks rejuvenated and will be the favourite to take Maria down.

Pick: Kvitova in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber

Just as I predicted, Serena cleaned up her game against Vandeweghe and picked up an easy win. This does not bode well for Angelique Kerber, who has been struggling all week. The German's game does little to hurt Serena, with her only win against the American coming in an unimportant event. Serena loves Miami, so she will definitely be out for blood.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Monday, 24 March 2014

Miami day 7: Ivanovic for the upset

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Ana Ivanovic vs. Petra Kvitova

This will be a test if the real Ana is back. The Serbian was impressive in her matches so far, defeating in form players like Davis and Pennetta. She will be put to the test by wild swinging Kvitova. The Czech has had a miserable season, and I think Ana has a good chance here. She just needs to steady and wait for Kvitova's errors. 

Pick: Ivanovic in 3 sets

Venus Williams vs. Dominika Cibulkova

Just when I thought Venus was playing well, she struggles mightily against Casey Dellacqua. Cibulkova will definitely be a tougher test for Venus, having beaten the American before. Still, I believe Venus has a chance. She needs to destroy Dominika's serves and try to keep her first serve percentage up. The Slovak will not be going down without a fight though. 

Pick: Williams in 3 tight sets

Serena Williams vs. Coco Vandeweghe

Shaky Serena has been struggling to find her rhythm for her past two matches. Thankfully, she has a relatively easy opponent now. Coco blows hot and cold, so Serena just needs to weather the storm and make Vandeweghe move around the court. I expect a much cleaner match from the world number one this time. 

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki
Upset alert: Angelique Kerber, Dominika Cibulkova, Petra Kvitova

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Miami day 6: Venus for the final?

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Casey Dellacqua vs. Venus Williams

Currently in WTA, nobody is playing well consistently, with the exception of maybe Venus Williams. Coming off a title in Dubai, Venus is playing with renewed confidence. Besides, she is practically playing at home here in Miami. Casey has been in form, but the home crowd will definitely be rooting for Venus. She's my dark horse pick for the final. 

Pick: Venus in 2 sets

Sloane Stephens vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Any match with Wozniacki is a roller coaster now. The Dane's steady game is being dismantled by most players, and even Puig got close to an upset. Stephens has never beaten Wozniacki before, but she will like her chances now. Under a new coach, Sloane seemed to be on the right track, and her test will be against Wozniacki. If she can beat the steady Dane, it shows that her partnership with Paul Annacone is working. Caroline doesn't really do anything spectacular on court nowadays, so it doesn't take a lot to beat her.

Pick: Stephens in 2 tight sets

Alize Cornet vs. Dominika Cibulkova

Nothing is straightforward for the drama queen, Alize Cornet. The Frenchwoman's "allez" can get annoying, but she will meet her match with Cibulkova's incessant "pome"s. Right now, I would rate both of them equally, but Cibulkova does have a title in Acapulco, and a final appearance in Melbourne. Dominika leads the head to head 2-0, but both encounters were on clay. Suffice to say, on the faster hard courts, Cibulkova is the firm favourite. She needs to be careful though, not to let Cornet irritate her into errors.

Pick: Cibulkova in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Elina Svitolina, Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus Williams
Upset alert: Varvara Lepchenko, Caroline Wozniacki, Carla Suarez Navarro

Friday, 21 March 2014

Miami day 5: Overranked, overhyped

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Kirsten Flipkens vs. Sabine Lisicki

These 2 players are guilty of riding on their Wimbledon points and doing almost nothing with it. Flipkens did reach a couple of quarter-finals but Lisicki is the ultimate disappointment. She only reached the 3rd round after Nadia gifted her the match by hitting 4 consecutive double-faults in the final game. This shouldn't happen to a Wimbledon finalist, and under the guidance of Martina Hingis. The German is just lost now and I think she cannot wait until the grass season approaches.

Pick: Flipkens in 2 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs. Flavia Pennetta

Ana dumped Davis in convincing fashion, and will be challenged by Indian Wells winner, Pennetta. Good thing or Ana is that she leads the heads to heads with 4 victories, but Flavia is going into the match with renewed confidence. 2 equally matched players will equate to a mouth watering clash. I think Pennetta has a chance to get her first win over Ivanovic, given her recent form. Whoever wins here will have a chance to reach the semi-finals, so I expect a tough fight.

Pick: Pennetta in 3 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova vs. Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber was having a pretty good season until Dubai, where she lost a close match to Ivanovic. Kerber used to be the player who never gives up and wins the tight matches. However, she has so far lost a few tiebreaks and proceeded to lose the match. No idea what's going on with her but she needs to be ready for Pironkova, as she just trounced her in Sydney earlier this year. Tsvetana will be feeling good with such a recent victory and Kerber being vulnerable now. An upset is possible.

Pick: Pironkova in 2 tight sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Samantha Stosur
Upset alert: Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber, Ana Ivanovic