Petra Kvitova vs Dominika Cibulkova, Wuhan Final Preview

Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Championship Match 🇨🇳
(14) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova vs (10) 🇸🇰 Dominika Cibulkova

Petra Kvitova and Dominika Cibulkova have both produced some outstanding tennis this week to defy the odds and reach the final of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. A win here will keep Petra Kvitova’s slim hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals alive whilst a win for Cibulkova will all but guarantee a spot in Singapore for the Slovakian in what would her first every appearance at the season finals.

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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Caroline Wozniacki, Wuhan R3 Preview

Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Third Round 🇨🇳
(3) 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki

Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki will renew hostilities on Wednesday night when they meet at the third round stage of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Wozniacki has owned the head-to-head series between the pair in recent times having won the last four meetings between the pair, including a hard-fought three set win over the Pole last week in Tokyo. Continue reading "Agnieszka Radwanska vs Caroline Wozniacki, Wuhan R3 Preview"

Simona Halep vs Yaroslava Shvedova, Wuhan R3 Preview

Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Third Round 🇨🇳
(4) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs 🇰🇿 Yaroslava Shvedova

Simona Halep will be searching for her first win over Yaroslava Shvedova when the pair meet at the third round stage of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Shvedova eased past Halep 6-4 6-2 in their only previous meeting which took place at the 2012 Olympics on the grass of SW19. Shvedova enters this third round clash in great form and looms as a real threat to the fourth seeded Romanian.

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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Ekaterina Makarova, Wuhan R2 Preview

Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Second Round 🇨🇳
(3) 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇷🇺 Ekaterina Makarova

Agnieszka Radwanska will be wary of her first opponent at the 2016 Wuhan Open, Makarova has troubled Radwanska in the past and made a commanding start to her Wuhan campaign on Sunday evening with a thrashing of Sabine Lisicki.

Agnieszka Radwanska has been the most successful player during the Asian Swing over the last couple of years, winning more titles than anyone else. The Pole made another solid start in Asia last week where she reached the semi-final stage in Tokyo. However, the week ultimately ended in disappointment for the Pole as she squandered several significant leads before succumbing to Caroline Wozniacki in a tight third set in their semi-final match. Radwanska has a chance to climb up the rankings this week as she has no points to defend after falling in the first round in Wuhan last year.

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Roberta Vinci vs Yaroslava Shvedova, Wuhan R2 Preview

Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Second Round 🇨🇳
(13) 🇮🇹 Roberta Vinci vs 🇰🇿 Yaroslava Shvedova

Two veterans of the tour will go head-to-head in what should be a tight second round match at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open on Tuesday. Vinci and Shvedova both won through to the second round with convincing straight set wins, both have been in good form of late.

Roberta Vinci has solidified her spot in the top 20 in season 2016, thanks largely to a solid run to the quarter-finals at the U.S Open earlier this month. Vinci was on a hot streak this time last year as she went on to reach the semi-finals in Wuhan, the zippy surface seems to suit the Italian. Vinci’s 2016 Wuhan campaign got off to a flying start on Sunday when she comfortably dispatched Monica Puig 6-3 6-3, Vinci served particularly well throughout the match as she served 7 aces and did not face a break point for the entire match.

 

Yaroslava Shvedova also arrived in Wuhan with confidence after a pleasing run to the second week in New York earlier this month. The Kazakh is competing in Wuhan for the very first time and made a near flawless start on Sunday when she thumped Saisai Zheng 6-0 6-3. Shvedova was unstoppable in the first set before holding off a late fightback from Zheng. Shvedova also went through her opening match without being broken, a good sign for Shvedova.

This looks like a rare match-up on the WTA tour where holding serve is very important, particularly on this surface. This is an old-school match-up between two players that frequently move forward to the net, both have great volleying technique. There is little to separate the pair, but Vinci seemingly has a slight edge.

The Italian holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Shvedova. It was the Kazakh who won their most recent match earlier this year, a 6-0 4-6 6-3 win in Dubai. I suspect Vinci will avenge that loss on this occasion, both are capable of taking care of their service games but Vinci’s baseline game is generally more consistent and therefore she will win in this match-up more often than not.

Prediction: Roberta Vinci to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova in 3 sets

Angelique Kerber vs Monica Puig, Rio Olympics Gold Medal Match Preview

2016 Rio Olympic Games, Gold Medal Match Preview 🇧🇷
(2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇵🇷 Monica Puig

Then there were two! Angelique Kerber and Monica Puig will fight for gold on Saturday in what promises to be an epic battle between two gutsy competitors.

Angelique Kerber’s season 2016 keeps getting better and better. The German has already defied all expectations by a huge distance, Angie started the year by winning her first Grand Slam in Melbourne, reached the final at Wimbledon, won Stuttgart and is now into the gold medal match in Rio. Kerber has sailed into Saturday’s gold medal match in Rio without dropping a set.

 

The world number 2 has overcome numerous tough opponents in Rio, starting with wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard and Samantha Stosur. Kerber confirmed her spot in the final with a 6-1 6-2 win over Johanna Konta and a 6-3 7-5 win over Madison Keys. Kerber was superb under pressure in her semi-final win over Madison Keys, Kerber was rock solid when it mattered as she saved all 10 break points she faced throughout the match, an incredible effort given she doesn’t possess a ‘big’ serve. Kerber is a totally different player in 2016, the German is infinitely tougher when in critical moments in big matches.

Monica Puig is having the best week of her tennis life. No one expected the Puerto Rican to reach the gold medal match but she has made her way to Saturday’s gold medal match in style. Puig rocketed through her first four matches in Rio (defeating Polona Hercog, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Garbine Muguruza and Laura Siegemund) without dropping a set and averaging less than 2 games against per set. Puig confirmed her place in the final with a hard-fought 6-4 1-6 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova. It was impressive how Puig was able to swipe away the disappointment of the second set and emerge victorious in the third against a more experienced and accomplished opponent.

 

Angelique Kerber holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Monica Puig. Kerber won an extremely close match in their first meeting, a 3-6 6-4 7-6 win at the Brisbane International in 2013 whilst their most recent clash was an easier win for the German as she claimed a 6-2 6-3 win at the Rogers Cup last year. Both of those matches were on a hard court, the same surface as Saturday’s final, but the hard court in Rio is much slower and will favour Puig.

Kerber and Puig are both playing outstanding tennis in Rio. Saturday’s winner will be whoever can execute their game under extreme pressure. Kerber is clearly more experienced in big matches so she may have the mental edge but I believe Puig may have the tennis edge as she has a greater ability to hit through the Rio courts and can match Kerber in most areas. This is the biggest match of Puig’s life and could be historical moment, If the Puerto Rican can maintain her composure I think she will win this match. Conversely, there is actually more pressure on Kerber in this match as she is expected to win, this could work against her. It should be a great final!

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets

Madison Keys vs Angelique Kerber, Rio Olympics SF Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro SF #2 Preview 🇧🇷
(7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber will renew hostilities on Friday when they meet at the semi-final stage in Rio. The pair have met in a number of important matches over the last couple of years, it has been the German who has usually emerged victorious as she holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Keys. Kerber is in great form this week and will again be a tough opponent for Keys.

Madison Keys has had a topsy-turvy week in Rio but has done extremely well to reach the semi-final stage in her first Olympic campaign. Madison started the week with a straight set win over Danka Kovinic before requiring three tight sets to get past Kristina Mladenovic and Carla Suarez Navarro. Madison booked her spot in the final four with a commanding 6-3 6-1 win over Daria Kasatkina, arguably her best performance of the week.

 

Angelique Kerber has been relatively untroubled on route to the semi-final stage in Rio, the German is yet to drop a set this week and is continuing her outstanding results at major tournaments in 2016. Angie’s victims this week were: Marian Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard, Samantha Stosur and Johanna Konta. Kerber also saved her performance thus far for the quarter-final stage where she thumped Johanna Konta 6-1 6-2.

Kerber holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Keys, the German has won the last two meetings between the pair and all three of their previous matches on a hard court. The most recent match between the pair was earlier this year in Miami where Kerber claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win.

I suspect Kerber will once again get the better of Keys. The German’s consistency and defensive abilities often frustrate Keys into going for too much, this could be a big factor on this occasion because the court in Rio are quite slow and will give the German more time. Kerber is the form player on the tour so I can’t go against her here.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Monica Puig, Rio Olympics SF Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro SF #1 Preview 🇧🇷
(10) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova vs 🇵🇷 Monica Puig

Petra Kvitova and Monica Puig will go head-to-head for the very first time on Friday when they meet at the semi-final stage in Rio. Kvitova and Puig both rocketed through their quarter-finals matches, dropping just two games each to set up an exciting semi-final encounter between two if form players.

Given all of the chaos in the women’s draw in Rio Petra Kvitova has been quite solid. The Czech number 1 has dropped just one set on route to the semi-final stage. Petra started the tournament with convincing straight set wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Timea Babos. Kvitova’s big test was in the third round where she fought from a set and a break down to record a confidence boosting win over Ekaterina Makarova. Petra secured her place in the semi-final’s with a commanding 6-2 6-0 win over Elina Svitolina.

 

Monica Puig has been the surprise package of the Rio games. The manner in which Puig has reached the semi-finals has been very impressive, especially given this is Puig’s first ever Olympic campaign. Puig has dropped just 14 games in her first 4 matches: winning all of her matches in straight sets and averaging less than 2 games against per set. The Puerto Rican defeated Polona Hercog, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Garbine Muguruza and Laura Siegemund on her way to the final four. Puig’s last two wins were particularly impressive, smashing Muguruza and Siegemund both with a 6-1 6-1 scoreline.

This is a tough match to call, especially given this is the first ever meeting between the pair. It is tough to ignore Puig’s stunning form heading into this match, but Kvitova is the more experienced player, especially at the later stages of big events. I’m going to side with Puig despite her relative inexperience. The slower surface in Rio must suit Puig in this match-up. Both players like to be very aggressive but Puig is a better grinder on a slower surface which could give her the edge here.

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

2016 Rio Olympic Games, Quarter-final match Previews

QF #1: (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina vs (11) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova

Elina Svitolina caused the biggest upset of the tournament on Tuesday evening when she eliminated the tournament favourite Serena Williams with a 6-4 6-3 victory. The Ukrainian’s win over Serena was arguably the biggest win of her career but she will have little time to celebrate as she will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a clash with Petra Kvitova.

Petra Kvitova looked down and out in her third round clash with Ekaterina Makarova, the Czech managed to fight from a set and a break down to record a memorable 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory.

 

Kvitova holds a 2-1 head to-head record over Svitolina. The Czech has won the two most recent matches between the pair: a 6-3 7-5 win in Wuhan in 2014 and a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win in Dubai last year.

I suspect Kvitova will once again get the better of Svitolina on this occasion. The match is almost totally on Petra’s racquet, now that the draw has opened up and at this stage of the event I think Petra will be motivated to perform well and therefore should overpower Svitolina here. Petra is very experienced at representing her country, Petra has arguably been the best Fed Cup performer over the last several years and this could be the time for that success to translate into Olympic success.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets

 

QF #2: 🇵🇷 Monica Puig vs 🇩🇪 Laura Siegemund

The most unexpected quarter-final match-up sees Monica Puig come up against Laura Siegemund, the only quarter-final match-up which features two unseeded players.

Monica Puig has arguably been the form player of the tournament. The Puerto Rican has advanced to the quarter-final stage in her first Olympic campaign without dropping a set. Puig claimed comfortable straight set wins over Polona Hercog and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to begin her Rio campaign before producing her best performance of the tournament thus far in the third round where she thumped Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-1.

 

Laura Siegemund has also defied the odds to reach the quarter-final stage of her first Olympic campaign. The German did well to even reach Rio and is now making the most of her opportunity. Siegemund has benefited from a very favourable draw, claiming wins over Tsvetana Pironkova, Shuai Zhang and Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-final stage.

This will be the first ever meetings between Puig and Siegemund, two feisty competitors. The slow surface in Rio suits both ladies and they seem pretty evenly matched heading into this clash. Puig’s form is more impressive given she has beaten more established players and Puig’s best is better than Siegemund’s so I think Puig has the slight edge here.

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Laura Siegemund in 3 sets

 

QF #3: (7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina are two of the most promising young talents on the tour, the pair will go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of their first Olympic campaigns on Wednesday.

Madison Keys has taken the tough route to the quarter-final stage, the American has twice been pushed to a third set after a straight set win over Kovinic in the first round. Keys overcame Mladenovic in a 3-hour battle before booking her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

Daria Kasatkina made a slow start in Rio, just sneaking past Ons Jabeur in the first round. The Russian has raised her level in her last couple of matches as she claimed straight set wins over Saisai Zheng and Sara Errani.

Madison’s biggest concern heading into this match could be fatigue given she will be playing for a third day in a row and is coming off two tough three setters. Luckily Keys isn’t the type of player that needs to do a lot of running, Madison is playing with a lot of confidence and belief at the moment and should probably be a bit too good for Kasatkina on this occasion.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets

 

QF #4: (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs (10) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta

Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta have been two of the form players in season 2016, the pair will go head-to-head for the first time since their semi-final clash at the Australian Open earlier this year when they met at the quarter-final stage in Rio.

Kerber has breezed through to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set. The German has claimed straight set wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard and finally confirmed her spot in the final 8 with a 6-0 7-5 win over Sam Stosur.

 

Johanna Konta started her first Olympic campaign with straight set victories over Stephanie Vogt and Caroline Garcia. Konta’s first big test came at the third round stage where she was forced to work extremely hard for a 3-6 7-5 7-5 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kerber won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-5 6-2 win at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year. I suspect there will be a similar result on Wednesday, Kerber is the fresher player heading into this match and the slow surface probably suits Kerber in this match-up. Konta will find it hard to hit through the German who is looking good in Rio.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs Elina Svitolina, Rio Olympics R3 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina

Serena Williams will continue her quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal on Wednesday evening when she comes up against Elina Svitolina at the third round stage in Rio. Serena has looked fairly sharp in her opening couple of matches, overcoming a couple of tough opponents in straight sets. Serena will face a familiar challenge against Svitolina, one she should be very well equipped to overcome.

 

Serena Williams has needed to be on guard from the very beginning of the tournament in Rio. The world number 1 and reigning Olympic singles champion started her Rio campaign with a hard-fought 6-4 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova, the first set was fairly close before Serena ran away with the match in the second set. Serena’s second round match followed a similar path. Serena advanced to the third round courtesy of a 7-6 6-2 win over Alize Cornet, the American was in trouble at several stages in the opening set where she managed to save a couple of set points before comfortably claiming the second set. Serena wasn’t at her best in her first few matches but her level has generally been pretty good.

Elina Svitolina has made a fitting start to her first ever Olympic campaign. The Ukrainian has advanced to the third round in Rio thanks to a couple of gutsy victories. Svitolina was forced to come from a set down in her opening round clash against Andrea Petkovic before beating Heather Watson 6-3 1-6 6-3. The surface in Rio is well suited to Elina’s game, a dead hard court which encourages long rallies and rewards those that can move well around the court (which is one of Svitolina’s greatest strengths).

 

Serena Williams holds a 4-0 head-to-head record over Elina Svitolina, three of those four matches were straight set wins including their last two meetings: a 6-4 6-3 win in Cincinnati last year and a commanding 6-1 6-1 win at Roland Garros earlier this year.

This might be the ideal surface for Svitolina to play Serena on, however I still expect Serena to win this match quite comfortably. Serena has played a couple of players that have quite similar games to Svitolina so she will be well prepared heading into this match and will know exactly what she has to do against this type of opponent on this surface. Svitolina will be typically tough but ultimately she lacks the weapons and bravery under pressure to really challenge Serena.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets