Thursday, 6 March 2014

Indian Wells day 2: First round matches round up

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Alisa Kleybanova vs. Victoria Duval

Only 3 players separate these 2 players in terms of ranking, but in terms of experience, Kleybanova has tons of them. The Russian is slowly picking up the pieces after her battle with cancer, and has already had a few wins on the main tour. Duval has been thriving in the ITF circuit and trying to play through qualifying. This is a good way to get into match rhythm and I think this will be a good fight. Alisa will have the crowd and experience behind her, while Duval will have the fearlessness of youth. I think Alisa needs this more, so I think the Russian will fight until the bitter end to cause a minor upset.

Pick: Kleybanova in 3 sets

Francesca Schiavone vs. Mona Barthel

Both players have had very a very forgettable 2014 so far, but at least Mona has a few wins under her belt. Schiavone on the other hand drew tough opponents, or lost to players who she's supposed to beat. The Italian is still winless this year despite playing lower tier events in Brazil. This doesn't bode well for the former Grand Slam champion. Barthel is difficult to predict, but with Schiavone at an all time low confidence, I doubt the German will be losing to her.

Pick: Barthel in 2 sets

Urzsula Radwanska vs. Aleksandra Wozniak

Fresh off her injury timeout, Urzsula Radwanska hopes to get back into action against Aleksandra Wozniak. The Canadian is also an injury plagued player, whose career might have been different if she stayed healthy enough. Anyway, it's tough for the Pole to get straight back into match playing rhythm. Wozniak had Acapulco to prepare, so she has the advantage with more match play. Even though Radwanska is still ranked higher, I believe Wozniak will take this.

Pick: Wozniak in 3 sets

Monica Niculescu vs. Marina Erakovic

I cannot say that I'm a big fan of Niculescu's game. The Romanian's unorthodox and junky game does give players fits and confuses the ball bashing players. However, Monica is under an injury cloud as she retired in Florianopolis. I doubt she has recovered fully if it was serious enough to retire from title defense. Erakovic and Niculescu have met once before last year, with Monica edging Marina out in a third set tie break. On hard courts, I believe the aggressive Erakovic has the advantage here. She just needs to keep going for it and not be bothered by the weird balls the Romanian is sending her.

Pick: Erakovic in 2 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Monica Puig

This might be the first time these 2 have met on the senior tour, but I am sure they have a long history in juniors. Just a few years ago, these 2 players were at the top of junior rankings and this will be a good match up to see who has improved the most. Svitolina currently has a title and couple of impressive wins so far, while Puig has the tendency to perform well in the Slams. Based on current form, Elina has the advantage with more wins under her belt. Puig has suffered from fluctuating form since late last year, and it would be a surprise if she snaps out of that.

Pick: Svitolina in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Ajla Tomljanovic, Karin Knapp
Upset alert: Alexandra Cadantu, Donna Vekic, Urzsula Radwanska

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