Sunday, 24 August 2014

US Open day 1: Veterans in the spotlight

Schedule of play:

Match focus:
Kimiko Date-Krumm vs. Venus Williams

With the tour filled with youngsters, it's refreshing to see veterans battle it out. Instead of the bolsterious come-ons and fist pumps, veterans tend to keep it classy and dignified. Two of the tour's class acts will face off in Arthur Ashe stadium, where Venus will remain the firm favourite. Kimiko has the game to trouble most players, but she always falters at the crucial points. I don't see a surprise here as the hard courts suits the American more.

Pick: Williams in 2 sets

Maria Sharapova vs. Maria Kirilenko

Even though Kirilenko famously shocked Sharapova in Melbourne before, it will be extremely tough for her to replicate that success here. Kirilenko has been struggling with her knee injury, and was never the same player after her comeback. She is capable of playing good tennis, but her body doesn't allow her to do so. Against Sharapova who has nothing to defend and nothing to lose here, she will almost definitely be annihilated.

Pick: Sharapova in 2 easy sets

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Caroline Wozniacki

Even though Rybarikova conquered Giorgi who ousted Wozniacki in New Haven, the organizers did the Dane a huge favour by scheduling them to play this early. The Slovak will be fatigued by her final appearance in New Haven, and Caroline will gladly run her around the court. Caroline was a bit uninspired in her loss to Giorgi, but it's tough when your opponent hits everything as hard as she can and lands it in. I believe Wozniacki will have ample rest this time, and make a good run here in New York.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2 sets

Sara Errani vs. Kirsten Flipkens

Sara Errani is struggling very badly this year in the American hard court season. This makes her a vulnerable seed and Flipkens will be optimistic of her chances. The Belgian had a good run in New Haven, reaching the quarter-finals, and prefers the hard courts more than Errani. Still, it will take someone with power to overcome Errani, and I'm not too sure if Flipkens' game is enough. I believe Sara will pick on Kirsten's weaker backhand, and grind out a hard fought win.

Pick: Errani in 3 sets

Peng Shuai vs. Zheng Jie

Sadly for Zheng, it seems that her body just cannot hold up anymore. The aging Chinese had some good runs in selected tournaments this year, but the rest of her events are all early round exits. Peng will be the clear favourite here as Zheng was barely playing in the warm-up tournaments. It seems like the end is near for Zheng, but she definitely maximized her potential given her petite frame.

Pick: Peng in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep, Jelena Jankovic
Upset alert: Tsvetana Pironkova, Kiki Bertens, Stefanie Voegele, Daniela Hantuchova, Roberta Vinci

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