Thursday, 24 April 2014

Stuttgart, Marrakech QF: Determined Sharapova

Stuttgart schedule of play:

Marrakech schedule of play:

Match focus:

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Maria Sharapova

For her past 2 matches, Sharapova showed a lot of heart in defending her title here. Sure, she didn't play her best tennis, but her fighting spirit is insurmountable and Radwanska will need to work hard for a win here. Agnieszka has been very consistent this year, but faltered in matches where she's expected to win. This scenario is going to be a good test for the Pole to see if she has overcome her demons. If she wins here, she will deny Sharapova of a three-peat and kick her out of the top 10. Maria is sure as hell going to fight her heart out. Just because of that, I think Sharapova will win this and extend her top 10 stay longer.

Pick: Sharapova in 3 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana looks to be back at her best after ousting the higher ranked Simona Halep in straight sets. The Romanian seems to be injured, but it still takes a work to beat Simona. Svetlana will go into her quarter-finals with no pressure against Ivanovic. On clay, Kuznetsova has the more potent game but Ana seems to be fighting very well this year. If things get close, Kuznetsova will be the first to break. I still believe that Svetlana has the game to upset Ana, provided she keeps it together in her head.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 3 sets

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Peng Shuai

Daniela took a smart decision to play here in the lower tier Marrakech to gain some matchplay and wins. She has done nothing much this year and a few wins here will do her good. Same goes to Peng, who has been concentrating too much on her doubles career. The Chinese has a pretty decent singles game, and gaining wins here will give her singles career a much needed boost. Daniela leads the heads to heads at 2-0, but both wins came on hard courts. On clay, Daniela is at her most vulnerable with her compromised movement. Peng should be able to exploit that and give a close fight. I think Peng will clinch a tight win here given how vulnerable Daniela has been for her first few matches.

Pick: Peng in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Garbine Muguruza
Upset alert: Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova

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