Fed Cup Final Czech Republic vs Russia, Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

Fed Cup Final Czech Republic vs Russia, Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

 The final day of the Fed Cup final in Prague promises to be an epic. The tie is perfectly poised after Day 1 where Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova picked up victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Pliskova. The tie is squared at 1 win apiece with the reverse singles rubbers and perhaps a doubles match to come on Day 2 to decide the 2015 Fed Cup champion on Sunday.

Match 3: Petra Kvitova vs Maria Sharapova

The blockbuster match that we have all been waiting for between Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova will kick-start proceedings on Day 2 of the Fed Cup final in Prague. With the tie squared at 1 win apiece, this clash looms as the most important rubber of the tie when the two leaders of each team go head-to-head.

Petra Kvitova continued her stunning Fed Cup record on Saturday, recording a 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening rubber of the tie. Kvitova has now won 21 of her last 23 Fed Cup singles matches. Petra made a wayward start to the match, committing far too many unforced errors to gift the opening set to Pavlyuchenkova. Petra really raised her level in the second and third sets and the Russian couldn’t keep up. Kvitova will enter this clash full of confidence after beating Maria a couple of weeks ago at the semi-final stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

 

Maria Sharapova made a winning start to her first ever Fed Cup final campaign on Saturday courtesy of a 6-3 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova. The pressure was totally on Maria heading into this match, a loss for Russia would have left them 0-2. Maria responded like a true champion, aggressively dictating the play from start to finish and silencing the Czech crowd in the process. Maria is on a mission this week and will have had her eyes set on a rematch with Kvitova ever since her loss to the Czech at the WTA Finals in Singapore last month.

Maria Sharapova holds a 6-4 head-to-head record over Kvitova, however Petra has won the last 2 meetings between the pair. Both of those victories came in Singapore, a 6-3 7-6 win last month and a 6-3 6-2 win last year.

This promises to be a fierce encounter with so much on the line. Kvitova’s Fed Cup record is impressive, but if anyone can stop her, it is Maria. I fancy a determined Sharapova to get the job done here and place the Russian team in the driver’s seat on Day 2. It’s hard to see Maria losing to Petra 3 times in a row, she simply will not let that happen.

Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

 

Match 4: Karolina Pliskova vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

The pressure of the Fed Cup final will fall to Karolina Pliskova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova when the two meet in the extremely important fourth rubber, this match could potentially be the decisive rubber, one of these ladies will have the opportunity to end the tie depending on the result of the first match of the day. This is a massive opportunity for two relatively inexperienced players to stand up and make a real impact.

 

It was a shock decision to see Karolina Pliskova be chosen to play Maria Sharapova instead of Lucie Safarova in the opening singles rubber. Karolina was unable to seriously challenge the Russian number 1, suffering a 3-6 4-6 loss. Karolina didn’t serve particularly well and was made to look quite powerless as Sharapova dictated proceedings. It has been a long year for Karolina, the Czech has played more games than anyone else on the WTA tour in the last 12 months. Perhaps Karolina is understandably running out of gas.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova looked like causing a massive boilover in the opening match the tie on Saturday when she stormed past Petra Kvitova to take the opening set. However the Russian’s resistance gradually decreased as Petra Kvitova raised her level, the Czech eventually secured a 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory. Despite the loss, there were some positive signs for Pavlyuchenkova, she will certainly fancy her chances against Pliskova on Sunday.

 

Karolina won the only previous encounter between the pair 6-2 6-4 earlier this year in Dubai. I expect the score to be very different on this occasion. I feel like Pavlyuchenkova is fresher mentally and physically heading into this match and will also deal with the situation much better.

Pliskova has played a lot of tennis this year and has seemed to struggling physically in her last few tournaments, furthermore her record in big matches this year has been very poor. Pavlyuchenkova certainly has much more variety, better movement and her game is generally much more solid. Karolina didn’t serve particularly well on Saturday, and will need to improve quite significantly if she is to get the job done here. Pavlyuchenkova’s form has generally been better in the last couple of months, I think Pavlyuchenkova can win this one.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets

Fed Cup Final Czech Republic vs Russia, Day 1 Match Previews & Predictions

Fed Cup Final: Czech Republic vs Russia, Day 1 Match Previews & Predictions

The 2015 Fed Cup final promises to be an epic when a Petra Kvitova led Czech Republic takes on a Maria Sharapova led Russia at the 02 Arena in Prague. The Czech Republic have been dominant in recent years, having won the tournament in 3 of the last 4 years. Petra Kvitova has been the spearhead in each campaign, winning 20 of 22 Fed Cup singles matches since 2011. Saturday’s singles matches will be critical to the final outcome, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova will be the strong favourites, an upset in either match will change the outlook of the entire tie. 

 

Match 1: Petra Kvitova vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

The pressure will be fully on Petra Kvitova when she comes up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first match of the 2015 Fed Cup final on Saturday in Prague. It is extremely important for Kvitova to win this match and get the Czech Republic off to a winning start, a loss here would likely see Russia end day 1 with a 2-0 lead given Maria Sharapova will start a very strong favourite against Karolina Pliskova in the second match of the day.

Both Kvitova and Pavlyuchenkova showed good form in the later stages of the season. Kvitova reached the final at the WTA Finals in Singapore, however she did finish the tournament with 2 wins and 3 losses. Importantly, Kvitova did defeat Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, which will give her confidence heading into the reverse singles rubber against the Russian number 1.

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s recent indoor form has been great, she will certainly be no pushover. Pavlyuchenkova claimed the title in Linz before reaching the final in Moscow, amassing a 19 match winning streak at indoor events before falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final in Moscow. Pavlyuchenkova will enter her match against Kvitova with nothing to lose, she isn't expected to win this match, making her a very dangerous opponent given her ability on this surface. 

Petra Kvitova holds a 6-3 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova, on hard courts Petra’s head-to-head lead over the Russian is just 4-3. Kvitova won the only meeting between the pair in 2015, recording a 6-1 6-4 win over Pavlyuchenkova on route to claiming the title in Madrid.

This is a really tough match to call, Kvitova has to start the clear favourite but I wouldn't be surprised to see an upset. Pavlyuchenkova’s record at indoor events cannot be ignored and she often raises her level in big matches at big events. It has been a really season for Kvitova, plagued by illness, I believe Kvitova is vulnerable this week. This should be a really close match and could very well end in a victory for Russia. 

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

 

Match 2: Karolina Pliskova vs Maria Sharapova

The Czech Republic made a surprise decision to give Karolina Pliskova the nod over Lucie Safarova to play in Saturday’s opening singles rubber. Karolina will face the ultimate test when she comes up against Maria Sharapova who is playing in her first Fed Cup final. Maria will be desperate to add a Fed Cup title to her resume, it is extremely important for Russia that Maria wins both of her singles matches. This will be the very first meeting between Karolina and Maria.

 

Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sharapova also bring good form into the event. Pliskova reached the final in Zhuhai whilst Maria Sharapova reached the semi-final stage at the WTA Finals in Singapore before falling to Petra Kvitova. Both Karolina and Maria showed good form during the group stages at each event where they both went unbeaten.

It will be interesting to see how Karolina matches up against Maria in their very first meeting. Karolina is certainly one of very few players on tour that has the firepower to match Maria from the service line and from the baseline. However Maria’s experience level and record in big matches is far greater and could be a major factor in this match-up.

I suspect a determined Maria Sharapova will be far too good for Karolina Pliskova on this occasion. Maria always raises her level on occasions like this, the hostile Prague crowd should bring out the best Sharapova. It will be tough for Pliskova to keep up with Maria.

Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 2 sets

Venus Williams vs Karolina Pliskova, WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai Final Preview

Zhuhai Final: (1) Venus Williams vs (2) Karolina Pliskova 

The inaugural WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai will end with a bang on Sunday when the top 2 seeds and 2 of the biggest hitters on tour collide with a spot in the top 10 on the line. The winner of this match will end the year in the top 10, a massive added incentive for both ladies to win this final. This will be the first career meeting between Venus and Karolina, it promises to be hotly contested, quality final between two players who have played awesome tennis week and seem to be peaking just in time for the final after perfect semi-final performances. 

Venus Williams seems to be peaking at the right time in Zhuhai. The American played inconsistent tennis during the group stage but managed to claim consecutive 3 set victories over Madison Keys and Saisai Zheng, coming from a set down on both occasions. Venus wasn't at her best but used all of her experience to peak at the right time in each match. 

 

The American's best performance of the week came on Saturday where she thumped Roberta Vinci 6-2 6-2 to reach Sunday's final. Venus was clearly on mission, maintaining a level and high intensity for the entire clash. Venus was particularly impressive at the net and served extremely well. It will be important for Venus to produce another high quality serving performance on Sunday against Pliskova, otherwise she will be in trouble. 

Karolina Pliskova also saved her best performance of the week thus far for the semi-final stage, recording a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina. Pliskova was at her powerful best, the Czech was not broken all match and pounced upon the Ukrainian's weak second serve. Karolina also went unbeaten through the group stage, defeating Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets and Sara Errani in straight sets 

 

With so much on the line, this promises to be an extremely competitive final. I'm going to give the slight edge in this match-up to Karolina Pliskova. Both ladies obviously possess extreme power, both from the service line and the baseline. The biggest difference is probably Karolina's superior serve, the Czech's serve is far more reliable, especially her second serve. For this reason I think it will be easier for Karolina to break serve which is a massive advantage in this particular match-up which will be dominated by serve. 

However, Experience is certainly on the American's side and Pliskova will need to overcome a poor record in finals. The Czech is 1 win and 4 losses in finals this year. Despite that record, I don't think nerves were a factor. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets 

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Semi-Final Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Semi-Final Match Previews & Predictions

The introduction of the WTA Elite trophy in Zhuhai was quite controversial with many questioning the timing and player commitment to the tournament. However the event has been pretty successful thus far with good crowds and some quality matches, amongst some disappointing retirements. The tournament promises to end with a bang, we are left with 4 worthy semi-finalists and 3 entertaining hard-fought battles to come. 

Semi-Final #1: (1) Venus Williams vs (4) Roberta Vinci

Saturday's first semi-final in Zhuhai will be a battle between the two veterans in the field. This promises to be a heated battle given the controversial ending to their most recent clash in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Roberta Vinci will  enter this match searching for her first career victory over the American. 

 

Venus Williams won both of her group stage matches, fighting back from a set down on both occasions. Venus started the week with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over Madison Keys. Venus was outplayed for the majority of the opening 2 sets but used all of her experience to send the match to a decider before running away with the match. Venus made a sluggish start to her second match, but recovered well to claim a 4-6 6-1 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng. Venus is now extremely close to securing a spot in the top 10, she will certainly do that is she claims the title in Zhuhai. 

Roberta Vinci started the week with an impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, not dropping serve throughout the whole match. Roberta's second match didn't go so well, suffering a horror 1-6 0-6 loss to a red-hot Anna Schmiedlova. Roberta's spot in the semi-finals was already confirmed before her match with Anna, that could certainly have something to do with the lopsided scoreline. 

 

Venus holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Roberta and has the added advantage of a day of rest heading into this match. Venus defeated Roberta 5-7 6-2 7-6 in their most recent clash at the semi-final stage in Wuhan. The quick courts  in Zhuhai will certainly help Venus, I suspect the American will continue her dominance over the Italian with a hard-fought win to advance to the final. 

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

 

Semi-Final #2: (8) Elina Svitolina vs (3) Karolina Pliskova 

Saturday's second semi-final of the day promises to be a cracker when fellow rising stars Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova collide for a place in Sunday's final. Both Elina and Karolina are searching for their biggest career title this week, it would be the perfect way to end career best seasons for both ladies. Both ladies went unbeaten through the group stage and bring good form into Saturday night's match. 

 

Elina Svitolina has been at her fighting best this week in Zhuhai. The Ukrainian started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic before defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 6-1 6-3. Elina's win over Carla was particularly impressive, Elina scrambled well from the baseline, committing to chasing down every ball. Elina will need to raise her level on Saturday if she is to defeat Karolina for the first time. 

Karolina Pliskova has been at her thunderous best this week. Stunning Jelena Jankovic with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory before thumping Sara Errani 6-0 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals. The quick courts in Zhuhai really seem to help Karolina, certainly in a match-up against counter-punchers. 

 

Karolina Pliskova holds a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Elina, winning their most recent clash 2-6 6-4 6-4 in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Pliskova seems to have the edge over Elina, and I suspect that will once again be the case on Saturday. 

Pliskova has the added advantage of having a day of rest before this match whilst Svitolina played a gruelling match against Carla on Friday evening. The quick surface will also help Pliskova hit through Svitolina. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets 

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions 

Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Roberta Vinci secured semi-final births on day 3, the final semi-finalist will be confirmed on the final day of group stage action on Friday. Elina Svitolina and Carla Suarez Navarro will battle for the final position, the winner will progress to the final 4. Roberta Vinci advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki retiring against Kuznetsova and withdrawing from the event, essentially eliminating the Russian from the event. 

Group B: (2) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (8) Elina Svitolina

Friday's most intriguing match sees Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina go head-to-head for a spot in the semi-finals. Carla and Elina both pick up victories over Andrea Petkovic, the winner of this match will finish on top of Group B and progress to the semi-final stage. 

 

Carla Suarez Navarro routed a wounded Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-0 in her opening group stage match in Zhuhai. Petkovic was not competitive, offering little to no resistance. Nevertheless, Carla was seemingly playing at a pretty reasonable level. 

Elina Svitolina started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic. The German was certainly much more competitive in this match, offering much more resistance. Svitolina's form during the Asian Swing was poor but she seems to be in a better place this week and will be keen to make an impact in Zhuhai, this is a good opportunity for Elina. 

The head-to-head record between Carla and Elina is split at 1 win apiece, Elina won their most recent clash 4-6 6-4 6-4 in Cincinnati last year. This should be a good match with both ladies desperate to win, I like Elina's chances here. Carla and Elina are both great grinders from the baseline, but Elina is more solid and has a greater ability to attack. 

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets 

Group D: (4) Roberta Vinci vs Anna Schmiedlova 

Roberta Vinci and Anna Schmiedlova will go head-to-head for the first time on Friday. Courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki's withdrawal from the event, Anna Schmiedlova has taken her spot as an alternate. 

 

Roberta Vinci started her Zhuhai campaign in style with a commanding 6-4 6-4 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Vinci was on top from start to finish, the Italian's serve was never broken. 

Schmiedlova is certainly a dangerous opponent and is more than capable of competing with the U.S Open finalist, Schmiedlova has nothing to lose and I think she will cause an upset here. 

Prediction: Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets 

Group A: (7) Madison Keys vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng 

The Final match of the day is a dead rubber. Madison and Saisai both lost their opening group stage matches to Venus Williams meaning the American will finish on top of the group and advance to the semi-finals. 

Madison and Saisai both showed promising signs in their opening group matches despite being defeated. Keys came particularly close to victory, outplaying Venus for the majority of the first 2 sets but ultimately succumbing 6-3 6-7 1-6.  Keys will be hoping to end the best season of he career on a high with a victory over Zheng. 

 

Saisai Zheng pushed Venus Williams much more than expected. Saisai made a terrific start to the match and hung on the claim the first set. However Venus would eventually raise her level to steamroll past the local hopeful 4-6 6-1 6-1. 

This will be the first career meeting between the pair and it should end in a victory for the American, unless she has a really bad day. 

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

The group stage of the WTA Elite Trophy continues in Zhuhai on Thursday with 3 critical matches.  The competition is starting to head up, the contenders are starting to be separated from the pretenders. The two tournament favourites will be in action on Thursday, Venus Williams will face local wild card Saisai Zheng whilst Caroline Wozniacki will make her first appearance of the week when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova. 

Group A: (1) Venus Williams vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng

Local wild card Saisai Zheng will contest her first match of the tournament against Venus Williams in Thursday's opening match of the day in Zhuhai. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, on paper it looks like a total mismatch. 

Venus Williams made a positive start to her Zhuhai campaign, claiming an extremely hard-fought 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over compatriot Madison Keys in the first match of the tournament. Venus was the second best player for the majority of the first couple of sets but she used all of her experience to fight her way out of trouble before running away with the match in the deciding set. Venus can confirm her place in the semi-finals with a victory over Zheng. 

 

Saisai Zheng arrives in Zhuhai in terrible form, having lost 5 matches in a row including a first round loss at an ITF event in Nanjing last week. It would take an almighty effort from Zheng to even be competitive in a match against Venus Williams. 

Saisai doesn't have any real weapons and is infamous for her use of a high loopy shots, her usual tactics are highly unlikely to trouble a determined Williams. Venus should win this one easily. 

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets 
Group D: (5) Caroline Wozniacki vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova

Caroline Wozniacki will make her eagerly awaited Zhuhai debut on Thursday, the Dane will play Svetlana Kuznetsova who must defeat Wozniacki to keep her Zhuhai campaign alive after losing to Roberta Vinci in straight sets on Wednesday. 

 

These two ladies have a long history, Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 6-4 but Kuznetsova has won 2 of their last 3 encounters. Wozniacki won their most recent clash 6-7 6-3 6-1 in Eastbourne earlier this year, I expect a similar result in Zhuhai. 

Wozniacki's form during the Asian Swing was poor but after a couple of weeks off she should be refreshed and ready to compete at a high level in Zhuhai. The fast courts in Zhuhai don't really suit Kuznetsova, Wozniacki should certainly find a way to win this one.

Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets 

Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (6) Sara Errani 

Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is saved until last. When Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani go head-to-head we will witness a clash of extreme contrasting styles. It will be fascinating to see how this match pans out. 

Karolina Pliskova made an impressive start in Zhuhai with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Jelena Jankovic. Pliskova looked down and out after dropping the second set, Karolina was seemingly exhausted by the start of the third set. However the Czech raised her level to an insane high, blasting winner after winner past Jankovic to claim a critical victory. 

 

Sara Errani was unable to defeat Jankovic in her opening group match, succumbing 4-6 5-7 to the Serb in a gruelling match. Errani won the only previous clash between the pair, a 6-1 6-3 win in Sydney back in 2013. 

Karolina Pliskova can confirm her spot in the semi-finals with a victory over Errani. If the Italian wins, things get very complicated as all 3 ladies in the group will end on 1 win apiece. Although Pliskova seemed to be struggling physically at times, I think she will be good enough to hit through Errani on these quick courts. Pliskova will be all over Errani's serve, the key is for Pliskova to focus on her own serve. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets 

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

The inaugural Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy commenced on Monday in Zhuhai. It looks like the controversial tournament will be much better than expected. The opening day was a major success with 3 entertaining, hard-fought matches in front of a large crowd. Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Elina Svitolina all recorded victories.  Play will continue on Wednesday with 3 more group stage matches.

 

Group D: (4) Roberta Vinci vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova

The first match from Group D will kick-start proceedings on Wednesday, U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci will come up against Moscow champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both veterans of the tour have ended the season on a high and are showing no signs of letting up.

Kuznetsova arrives on Zhuhai on a high after claiming her biggest title in year at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Conversely, Vinci’s form has deteriorated since her stunning run to the final at the U.S open, suffering early round losses in Beijing and Linz.

Kuznetsova holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Vinci and won their most recent clash 6-2 6-3 in Moscow back in 2013. The Russian should have a slight edge in this match-up, I think she will continue her recent winning ways with a victory over the Italian. 

Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets

 

Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (9) Jelena Jankovic

Karolina Pliskova will make her Zhuhai debut on Wednesday against Jelena Jankovic. The Serb made a winning start to her campaign on Tuesday by defeating Sara Errani 6-4 7-5. A victory for Jankovic in this match will see her confirm her spot in the semi-finals.

 

In their only previous encounter, Jankovic defeated Pliskova 6-2 3-6 7-5 in Cincinnati earlier this year. Pliskova squandered a major lead in the final set of that match. This isn’t the greatest match-up for Pliskova because of Jankovic’s solid return and ability to absorb pace.

Pliskova’s recent form has been poor and she will probably be rusty in her first match at the event. Jankovic’s recent form has been good and she will be better adjusted to the conditions. The Serb should get the job done here if she makes the most of her opportunities. 

Prediction: Jelena Jankovic to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets

 

Group B: (2) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (10) Andrea Petkovic

Arguably the 2 most out of form players in Zhuhai will go head-to-head in the final match of the day. This will be Carla’s first match of the tournament, whilst for Andrea Petkovic it is a must win clash after she lost her opening match 6-7 3-6 to Elina Svitolina.

 

Andrea Petkovic has now lost 4 matches in a row whilst Suarez Navarro’s last match was a disastrous early round loss in Moscow which saw her squander an opportunity to compete in Singapore. Carla did however reach the doubles final in Singapore alongside Garbine Muguruza.

Suarez Navarro holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Andrea, including a 6-3 6-3 victory in their most recent encounter at the semi-final stage in Miami earlier this year. This is a tough match to call because both players are in such poor form, I will side with Andrea just because she has already played a match in Zhuhai and the quicker conditions should help her.

Prediction: Andrea Petkovic to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 1 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 1 Match Previews & Predictions

The inaugural Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy will commence on Tuesday. The introduction of this second tier tour final event has been controversial, with many airing their displeasure for the event, including players. Nevertheless, the field is quite strong, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki are the headline acts.

 

Group A: (1) Venus Williams vs (7) Madison Keys

The opening match of the tournament will be an all American affair when Venus Williams comes up against Madison Keys. This is a critical match in Group A, the winner of this match is almost certain to progress to the semi-finals given Saisai Zheng is the other player in the group.

Madison Keys famously defeated Venus 6-3 4-6 6-4 at the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year. I think this is a good match-up for Keys, she has all the power to match Venus and arguably has a clearly better upside at this stage in their careers.

Venus showed strong form throughout the Asian Swing as she made one last big push to reach the WTA Finals. I think Venus is likely to be a little burnt out at the moment at this stage of the year. This is a good opportunity for Keys. Madison has more to gain here.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets

 

Group C: (6) Sara Errani vs (9) Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic will be looking to claim her first victory over Sara Errani since 2010 when the 2 go head-to-head in the 2nd match of the day in Zhuhai. Errani has won the last 3 encounters between the pair, but 2 of those were her beloved clay.

Jankovic has shown good form towards to the end of the year, claiming 2 international titles during the Asian Swing including Hong Kong where she beat Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber.

 

Jankovic will be determined to defeat Errani given their recent record and should have the weapons to handle Errani on this surface. Jelena should way to defeat the Italian if she remains patient and waits for her opportunities. 

Prediction: Jelena Jankovic to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets

 

Group B: (8) Elina Svitolina vs (10) Andrea Petkovic

The final match of the day sees Elina Svitolina and Andrea Petkovic go head-to-head for the first time on the WTA tour. Elina and Andrea both arrive in Zhuhai in poor form and will desperate to turn that around and finish the year on a high.

This is a tough match to call, I’m going to side with Svitolina. The Ukrainian has been in Zhuhai training for quite some time and should be well placed to perform at a decent level. This is not a good match-up for Andrea, she will struggle to hit through Svitolina.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Andrea Petkovic in 3 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Petra Kvitova, WTA Finals Singapore Final Preview

Singapore Final: (5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (4) Petra Kvitova

History will be made on Sunday at the WTA Finals in Singapore when Agnieszka Radwanska comes up against Petra Kvitova for the title. For the first time a player that lost 2 matches in the group stage will win the title. This is a wonderful opportunity for both Aga and Petra, both have dealt with a lot in 2015, it will be a fairy-tale finish to the year for whoever emerges victorious on Sunday.

 

Agnieszka Radwanska became the first Pole to reach the Final at the WTA Finals courtesy of a stunning 6-7 6-3 7-5 semi-final victory over Garbine Muguruza. It was an epic match full of momentum swings. Radwanska seemed to be in control of the 1st set tiebreaker, but squandered a 4-1 lead to loss the 1st set. Aga had to dig deep to turn the match around and she did just that, changing the dynamic of the match with a fast start to the 2nd set. After levelling the match at 1 set all, Aga seemed to be in total control of the match when she opened up a 4-1 lead in the deciding set. However Garbine came storming back to level the match at 4-4. Aga did extremely well to keep her composure and absorb everything Garbine threw at her and ultimately outlast her opponent.

What started out as such a disappointing week for Aga has now turned into an extremely successful week. After slumping to 0-2 in the group stage, no one could have imagined that Aga would be in Sunday’s final. Radwanska came extremely close to being eliminated from the group stage against Simona Halep, Aga needed to win in straight sets and found herself down 1-5 in the 1st set tiebreaker, from there Radwanska would win 6 straight points to keep her tournament alive. Aga would ultimately go on to win the match 7-6 6-1, with her victory over Muguruza on Saturday Aga has now won back-to-back matches against top 5 opponents and has reached 50 wins in season 2015.

Radwanska’s attitude in her last two matches has been very impressive, she has looked to be much more aggressive and has brought a much better intensity to the court. The Pole was rewarded with 2 of her best victories of the year and will need to bring that attitude to the court on Sunday if she is to claim the biggest tile of her career against an opponent she has a poor record against.

 

Petra Kvitova’s form during the group stage was generally quite uninspiring. The Czech started the week with a straight sets loss to Angelique Kerber before defeating Lucie Safarova in straight sets in what was a pretty messy match. Petra slumped to 1-2 in the white group courtesy of a 3 set loss to Garbine Muguruza. It seemed like Petra’s Singapore campaign was over as she needed Lucie Safarova to defeat Angelique Kerber to advance to the semi-finals. However Safarova pulled off the miracle and sent Kvitova into the semi-finals.

Petra’s 6-3 7-6 semi-final victory over Maria Sharapova was clearly her best performance of the week. Petra brought a superior intensity to the court, raising her level to suit the occasion. Kvitova stunned Maria in the first set and it seemed like the Russian would respond by sending the match to a decider. Sharapova led 5-1 in the second set but Kvitova would stage a stunning comeback to force a tiebreaker. Kvitova played an extremely solid tiebreak to secure her spot in Sunday’s final. Kvitova will be aiming for her second WTA Finals title, she will be confident heading into the match given her record against Radwanska.

Petra Kvitova holds a 6-2 head-to-head record over Radwanska and has won 3 of the last 4 encounters between the pair. Their most reverent match was in New Haven earlier this year, Kvitova prevailed 7-5 6-4. Perhaps their most relevant previous meeting was in Singapore last year where Radwanska claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over Petra.

 

I really like Radwanska’s chances in this match. Aga has played beautiful tennis in her last 2 matches and will be extremely desperate to claim the biggest title of her career. Kvitova’s form during the group stage was poor but she somehow managed to play an amazing match against Sharapova, I doubt Kvitova will be able to produce a similar performance on Sunday.

The surface in Singapore actually favours Radwanska in this match-up, the Pole will be able to absorb enough of Kvitova’s pace on these dead courts. Radwanska just needs to play like she has in her last 2 matches and she will get the victory in this match. I still don’t think Kvitova is in a good place physically and Radwanska will expose this.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Petra Kvitova in 2 sets

Radwanska back from the dead: Into the Final in Singapore

Agnieszka Radwanska will compete in the final of WTA Finals for the first time in her career after a stunning 6-7 6-3 7-5 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals on Saturday evening.

Radwanska has made history in Singapore this week, becoming the first Pole to reach the Final at the WTA Finals and becoming the first player to finish the group stage with a 1-2 win/loss record to reach the final since Venus Williams did so in 2009. Earlier in the week, Radwanska became the 16th lady to reach 500 career victories on the WTA tour and she has now won over $20 million in prize money.

 

Radwanska looked down and out after slumping to 0-2 courtesy of losses to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta. It would have been very easy for Radwanska to concede defeat and give up on her Singapore campaign after 2 disappointing losses. However Radwanska rebounded with an impressive 7-6 6-1 victory over Simona Halep to advance into the semi-finals. Aga needed to win in 2 sets and was 2 points away from elimination at 1-5 in the 1st set tiebreak before winning 6 straight points.

Radwanska once again showed her fighting spirit on Saturday. The Pole was extremely emotional after her victory over Muguruza, admitting that she didn’t think it would be possible to come back after losing an extremely close first set.

 

It was a match full of momentum swings, after losing a tight opening set, Radwanska came out strong in the second set to open up a commanding lead before Muguruza came storming back. Radwanska managed to weather the storm and send the match to a decider. The deciding set followed a similar path, Radwanska opened up a nice lead but Muguruza would blast her way back into the match despite being clearly fatigued. Radwanska was ultimately the better player, bringing a stunning mix of deft touch and aggression to the court to record a famous victory.

Radwanska now has a chance to win the biggest tile of her career, it would be a truly amazing end to the season for Radwanska considering the bitter lows during the middle of the year. No matter what happens, this tournament and the Asian swing in general will give Radwanska a much needed confidence boost heading into season 2016.