Sunday, 12 October 2014

Moscow, Luxembourg day 1: Massive withdrawals dampen season ending tournaments

Moscow schedule of play:

Luxembourg schedule of play:

Match focus:

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Klara Koukalova

Svetlana Kuznetsova looks content just being a solid top 30 player, always pushing the top players but coming out short in the end. In an event marred by the top players' withdrawal, this will be a good chance for Kuznetsova to revive her career. The Russian enjoys home crowd support, and will be the firm favourite against the slumping Koukalova. If the Russian loses this, I'm afraid any hopes of a career revival will be dashed.

Pick: Kuznetsova in 2 sets

Tereza Smitkova vs. Roberta Vinci

Vinci may be slumping, but I certainly do not expect her to lose to unheralded Tereza Smitkova. The Czech youngster had a breakthrough tournament in Wimbledon, but faded in obscurity immediately after that. There is one factor that might work against Roberta though, as she is scheduled to play in the Year-End Championships in Singapore. If she advances to the finals, she will have limited time to travel back to Asia and readjust to the conditions. Not saying that the Italian should throw the match away, but it will be a matter of priorities.

Pick: Vinci in 2 sets

Silvia Soler Espinosa vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

Silvia held a 5-0 lead against Serena in Beijing, but collapsed immediately after that when the world number 1 raised her game. The Spaniard's game is not flashy, but will make you earn your points. Barbora's season has been consistent after her Wimbledon breakthrough. She used to be a walking time-bomb, never knowing when she will self-destruct and wallow in self pity. Once she kept her emotions intact, she plays a good all-court game which is a joy to watch. I would give Barbora the advantage as she's a play maker, as opposed to Silvia's reactionary game. It will be close though, with a lot of scrambling and all court tennis.

Pick: Strycova in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Mona Barthel, Karin Knapp, Monica Niculescu
Upset alert: Jana Cepelova, Donna Vekic, Tsvetana Pironkova

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