Monday, 30 June 2014

Wimbledon day 9: Surprise semi-finalist in Makarova/Safarova

Upset of the previous day:

Ekaterina Makarova def. Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-0

When your opponents posts statistics like 24 winners with just 7 errors, you just have to ackowledge that she's too good. Makarova played a very impressive and tidy match to leave yet another seed tumbling out of the tournament. With her powerful strokes, Agnieszka couldn't play her tricks and just got outhit by the Russian. This is in stark contrast with Makarova's first round encounter where she barely scraped past Kimiko Date-Krumm. With another winnable match next, Makarova looks set to make her slam semi-final debut.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Petra Kvitova vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

Barbora continues to stun the tennis world by upsetting Caroline Wozniacki in the 4th round. Can she do it against the highest ranked Czech player on tour? This marks Petra's 5th consecutive quarter-final appearance here in Wimbledon, showing that her game is truly suited to the slick surface. With her thundering strokes and serve, Strycova cannot deploy her crafty drop shots and net play. If a baseline battle ensues, Kvitova will win 90% of them.

Pick: Kvitova in 2 sets

Lucie Safarova vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Before this tournament, Lucie Safarova was barely winning matches on grass. She turned the tides this year by making only her 2nd quarter-final in a Grand Slam with an unexpected run on her worst surface. Makarova will revel at this big opportunity to reach her first semi-finals, but will the occasion get to her? The heads to heads is tied at 1-1, but Makarova won their last encounter last year. Pretty evenly matched for these 2 southpaws, but on grass, you have to favour Makarova.

Pick: Makarova in 2 tight sets

Simona Halep vs. Zarina Diyas

Right after her second round struggle against Tsurenko, Halep rights the ship with a 6-4 6-1 rout of Belinda Bencic. This shows how much Halep is willing to take steps to correct her mistakes and play a better match on her next. Against unheralded Diyas, she will impose her game on the petite Kazakh. Zarina fights well, but against a player of Simona's calibre, it's not going to be enough.

Pick: Halep in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki vs. Yaroslava Shvedova

With her biggest obstacle Ivanovic out of the way, Lisicki is poised to make yet another quarter-finals here in Wimbledon. Such is the uniqueness of this surface that one player can go completely missing for the whole year, and magically win consecutive matches here. Shvedova has a good grass court game, but Lisicki in Wimbledon is another story. Coupled with the Kazakh's weak mental game, it might be a demolition job for the German.

Pick: Lisicki in 2 sets

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wimbledon day 8: Can Bouchard make it 3 in a row

Shock of the tournament:

Alize Cornet def. Serena Williams 1-6 6-3 6-4

Following the exit of Li Na, Serena follows her footsteps in yet another early Grand Slam loss. Serena's powerful game was just missing. Her imposing game which is so effective on grass is gone. Her confidence is shot. Something is wrong and Serena knows it. The American came into the tournament full of confidence and was all serious when talking about her game. This is a major setback for Serena, with her aura of invincibility diminishing. It will be interesting to see how she performs in the US Open series. Let's hope this shocking loss will finally spur her into action.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Alize Cornet vs. Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard may become the only player to reach 3 successive slam semi-finals this year with Serena Williams being ousted. Alize Cornet's run is surprising, especially on grass, but Bouchard should be able to take care of the Frenchwoman. Eugenie looks set to taste top 10 success this year with her stellar results so far. She's also living up to the expectations, which not many rising tennis players can claim. I believe she will win this, and make another breakthrough in her young career.

Pick: Bouchard in 2 sets

Angelique Kerber vs. Maria Sharapova

With Serena out of the way, Sharapova suddenly becomes the number 1 favourite to clinch the title. Her transition from clay to grass has been impressive, with her barely losing games so far. Kerber will be a tougher test with her pesky play, but Maria should be up for the task. Angelique's weak serve is begging to be punished on this surface, and Maria will spare her no mercy. All the Russian needs to do is to take care of her own service and she will be fine.

Pick: Sharapova in 2 sets

Petra Kvitova vs. Peng Shuai

Well well, look who's in the second week of a grand slam. Peng Shuai reaches her first 4th round in a Slam since 2012 right her in Wimbledon. This run is surprising especially with her poor form recently and her focus on doubles. Peng has the game to thrive on grass, but her opponent is just even more lethal than her. Kvitova's game is devastating in Wimbledon, and not even the great Venus Williams can stop her. If Petra continues her striking, she might end up winning the title again. Sorry Peng, but a 4th round appearance is good enough.

Pick: Kvitova in 2 sets

Ekaterina Makarova vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

Even though Makarova dumped Radwanska out in last year's US Open, I believe Agnieszka is not going to repeat the same mistake this time. Ekaterina has a handy game on grass, but with the courts being slower this year, it give Radwanska the advantage to make Makarova move around the court. Look out for Agnieszka's deft drop shots which has been so effective this year throughout the tournament.

Pick: Radwanska in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Caroline Wozniacki, Lucie Safarova

Friday, 27 June 2014

Wimbledon day 6: Serena to exact revenge

Upset of the previous day:

Barbora Strycova Zahlavova def. Li Na 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

Li Na has once again been ousted before the 2nd week with an inspired performance by Barbora. The Czech player served well, and ventured to the net behind strong approach shots. Li can only concede defeat to a player who played better than her. Strycova is stringing a nice grass season, with a final showing in Birmingham and now a 4th round. Let's see if she can continue her form and live up to her hype when she was a junior player.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Serena Williams vs. Alize Cornet

Alize Cornet claimed the biggest win of her career earlier this year in Dubai against Serena Williams. The American will be hungry for revenge this time, on her favourite surface. On grass, there is no contest. Alize's shots do not bounce as high as clay or hard courts, giving Serena ample time to hit them in her sweet spot. Add that with Serena's formidable serve, it's au revoir Cornet.

Pick: Williams 2 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs. Sabine Lisicki

Defending finalist Sabine Lisicki will face her first big test against recent Birmingham winner, Ana Ivanovic. The Serbian has been winning matches regularly this year, and will be the favourite here. However, Sabine clearly adores the green turf of Wimbledon. Can she put up another inspired performance and upset the more accomplished Ana. First, she'll have to attack Ana's second serves, and put up a strong service game. If Ana has doubts in her head, it'll be Sabine's chance. Still, I believe the volatile Sabine has too much pressure on her shoulders this year, and will succumb to the expectations.

Pick: Ivanovic in 3 sets

Vera Zvonareva vs. Zarina Diyas

Look who's back in the 3rd round of Wimbledon! Vera certainly surprised me, (and maybe herself) with 2 wins in a row. The former finalist will be very happy with her results now, and has a winnable match here in her hands. Zarina is still young and inexperienced, so the Russian has to seize the opportunity here and get herself into the 2nd week. Still, Diyas game is compact and will pose a threat. Vera will need to cover the court well and force Zarina to come up with the winner.

Pick: Zvonareva in 2 sets

Andrea Petkovic vs. Eugenie Bouchard

Surprisingly, Eugenie has never beaten Petkovic in 3 tries. However, their last 2 matches were very close, and Andrea only won by the smallest margin. This time, I believe Bouchard will be ready for Petkovic. Given that Andrea's game doesn't really match well with grass, Eugenie's game of taking the ball early will have the advantage. Another plus point for Eugenie is that she's winning her matches despite not playing her best tennis. This is a mark of a top player. Still, I think it will be a close one.

Pick: Bouchard in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova
Upset alert: Zarina Diyas,

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wimbledon day 5: Former champions clash

Upset of the previous day:

Zarina Diyas def. Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6(12) 5-7 6-2

Carla's game has the potential to excel on grass, but her mindset is always tuned on clay court tennis. Zarina fought well and the difference was winning that ultra close tiebreak. Even though the Spaniard won the second set, she ran out of steam in the third to the younger Diyas. Zarina has been languishing in ITFs for a while now, and it's nice to see her finally breakthrough into the main tour. With her compact game, she should be competent on the green grass. Let's see how she fares against Zvonareva next.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Petra Kvitova vs. Venus Williams

Two former champions clash early due to Venus's low ranking, and the crowd will be treated to a good grass court match between these two hard hitters. Petra's form is imperious so far, serving bagels in both her matches. In comparison, Venus has struggled against Torro-Flor and Nara. Doesn't bode well for the 5 time champion. Still, I think Kvitova will need some time to get used to Venus's game before running away with the match.

Pick: Kvitova in 2 sets

Lucie Safarova vs. Dominika Cibulkova

Lucie Safarova has never taken a set off Dominika Cibulkova in their previous 3 meetings. Can she finally claim a set with Cibulkova's suspect form? Safarova's game doesn't really suit grass, but she has managed to win 2 close matches so far. Cibulkova on the other hand, struggled to put away unheralded Alison Van Uytvanck in her 2nd round. Lucie has a chance here, but I believe Cibulkova's fight will see her through. Lucie might claim her first set over the Slovak here though.

Pick: Cibulkova in 3 sets

Belinda Bencic vs. Victoria Duval

This might be the future rivalry of women's tennis, as youngsters Bencic and Duval upset their more accomplished opponents to reach the 2nd round. Duval's win over Cirstea is more impressive, and considering she injured her back during the qualifying tournament. How long she can keep that up is questionable, but hopefully she's not too hampered by the pain. Bencic will need to take advantage of this and avenge her loss to Victoria in Acapulco this year. If Duval is healthy, she has the more natural grass game. However, with her back affected, I think Bencic will clinch this.

Pick: Bencic in 2 sets

Carolina Garcia vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Makarova is the more accomplished player on grass, but both players had similar struggles to reach the third round. Caroline upset Errani, but the Italian is one of the weakest gras court players on tour. These 2 have only met once, where Makarova trounced Garcia last year in Washington. It is safe to say that Garcia is a different player now, but the Frenchwoman has the expectations on her shoulders now. She didn;t handle the pressure well at all in Paris, let's see if she relaxes a little in London. This should be a close one, but Makarova should be able to scrape through this.

Pick: Makarova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Li Na, Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Carolina Wozniacki, Bojana Jovanovski
Upset alert: Peng Shuai

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wimbledon day 4: Can little Jie upset Ana?

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Ana Ivanovic vs. Zheng Jie

It's no secret that Zheng thrives on the green grass. She has posted her best results on this surface, and fittingly kickstart her season with several wins on grass. Against Ivanovic, Zheng is really a underdog. The Serbian is playing with confidence and striking the ball with venom. Zheng will need to be clean with her errors and be on the offensive at all times. A very daunting task. Besides, Ana will ruthlessly punish Zheng's weak serves as well.

Pick: Ivanovic in 2 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs. Sabine Lisicki

Both ladies possess a booming serve, but Sabine Lisicki backs it up with her powerful groundstrokes. Pliskova's lanky frame makes her rather clumsy on court, and she doesn't reach low enough for the low bounces on grass. Thus, Lisicki is the firm favourite here. Playing in Wimbledon obviously invigorates her as shown in her first round demolition. Let's see if this motivated Sabine will show up against seeded players.

Pick: Lisicki in 2 sets

Klara Koukalova vs. Madison Keys

Keys really surprised me with her title run in Eastbourne. I thought she will be one of those wasted talents, never fully fulfilling her talent because of her fragile mind. She proved me wrong with courageous hitting, and she seems to be carrying the form here into Wimbledon. Madison needs to be careful though, as Klara's game is also quite potent on grass. Still, I believe that Keys is high on confidence, and can cause the mini upset here.

Pick: Keys in 2 sets

Donna Vekic vs. Vera Zvonareva

Former finalist Vera showed plenty of fight against Tara Moore, but it doesn't bode well to struggle against a British wildcard. Vekic is the firm favourite here, as Zvonareva is a shadow of herself. The Russian's strokes has lost its sting, and her movement isn't as crisp as it was. I believe Vera will never duplicate her peak form again, but credit has to be given to her for trying. Donna will be looking at her first 3rd round appearance in a grand slam, and hopefully doesn't choke this great draw.

Pick: Vekic in 2 sets

Alison Riske vs. Camila Giorgi

Both players hit a very flat ball and have very little margin of error. It will be a ball bashing fiesta here, with neither one having the clear edge. However, I would favour Giorgi, given her recent run in Eastbourne, and winning matches on a regular basis these few months. Riske will have to put plenty of first serves in and keep pressuring Giorgi's serve to win this.

Pick: Giorgi in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard, Andrea Petkovic, Carla Suarez Navarro
Upset alert: Alize Cornet, Klara Koukalova, Kaia Kanepi

Thursday, 19 June 2014

One week break!

Sorry guys but I'll be away on a holiday from tomorrow until next Wednesday, which means no updates during this period! I will return to picking/jinxing the players on Thursday, 26th of June! See you!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Eastbourne, Dan Bosch QF: Can Giorgi topple resurgent Caroline?

Camila Giorgi vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Giorgi's playing the best tennis of her career, and winning tight matches. Can she muster the strength to defeat another former number 1? Caroline likes playing on the grass, where she can absorb the power her opponent throws at her. The Dane should enjoy playing Camila, as she supplies a good amount of power for Caroline to redirect the ball. I believe Wozniacki's pesky game will get the better of Giorgi's flashy power game, with a tight 3 sets win. 

Pick: Wozniacki in 3 sets

Lauren Davis vs. Madison Keys

It seems that the future of US tennis lies in these two players. Davis' game actually suits slower surfaces more, but credit has to be given to her for fighting and trying her best on grass. Madison has the advantage with her bombastic serve, but Lauren can draw the errors if she puts in one more ball. But Davis must be feeling the effects of playing so many matches all the way from qualifying, so I believe Keys will have the edge. 

Pick: Keys in 2 sets

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Annika Beck

The draw for Dan Bosch has been blown wide open with the retirement of Simona Halep. Beck has benefitted from that, but Magdalena is the superior grass court player. With the latest turn of events, Magdalena will be one of the favorites to capture the title. Beck just doesn't have the firepower to excel on this surface. 

Pick: Rybarikova in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza
Upset alert: Angelique Kerber, Klara Koukalova