Lucie Safarova vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(29) 🇨🇿 Lucie Safarova vs (wc) 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Lucie Safarova will begin her Australian Open campaign with a potentially dangerous opening round encounter against Ajla Tomljanovic. Safarova will enter this clash as a decent favourite, the Czech has won only 2 previous matches between the pair and is ranked around 100 spots higher than the Aussie wild card. Nevertheless, Tomljanovic will be reasonably confident heading into this match. Tomljanovic played some good tennis in Brisbane to start the year, most notably a 3 set battle with Johanna Konta, there are signs Tomljanovic’s finally started track towards playing her best.

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Lucie Safarova suffered a heart-breaking loss in her only match in the lead-up to the Australian Open. Safarova was beaten by Angelique Kerber in 3 sets in the opening round of the Sydney International. Safarova was up a set and a break and had 2 match points in the second set tiebreak. Safarova could not close out the match and was no match for the German in the third set. Despite the loss, the signs were good for Safarova, the Czech was playing at a very high level, to get into a winning position against Kerber is a good result given how well the German is playing.

Ajla Tomljanovic has been awarded a wild card into the first Grand Slam of the year. The adopted Aussie has gained her Australian citizenship and will be representing Australia at Melbourne Park. Tomljanovic also played in a high quality match in the lead-up to the Australian Open. Tomljanovic was up a set against Konta in their second round match in Brisbane but she could not finish it off, losing in 3 sets.

Safarova has won the two previous matches between the pair, the most recent match took place in Miami last year where Safarova won 6-1 6-3. Will Safarova again be too strong for Tomljanovic or can the Aussie can a big upset?

Johanna Konta vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Brisbane R2 Preview

Brisbane International, R2 Preview
(5) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta vs 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Johanna Konta kick-started her 2018 campaign in style with a hard-fought 3 set win over Madison Keys on Monday. Konta will be straight back into action on Tuesday as she comes up against an ever-improving Ajla Tomljanovic on Pat Rafter Arena.

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Johanna received a brutal opening round draw in Brisbane, coming up against Madison Keys, the highest ranked unseeded players in the draw. It was a tight battle, but Konta improved as the match wore on and eventually claimed a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win. One break of serve was the difference in each set. After Keys blasted Konta off the court in the opening set, Konta steadily improved as the match went on and she improved her serve to keep Keys at bay. Konta’s trademark aggressive deep hitting from the baseline was on full display s was her power at end-range. Konta will gain a lot of confidence from this win, especially after she ended 2017 with a string of disappointing losses.

Ajla Tomljanovic cruised into the second round in Brisbane. Tomljanovic easily accounted for fellow Aussie Destanee Aiava 6-1 6-4. Tomljanovic’s serve was her standout weapon against Aiava. Tomljanovic was broken on just 1 occasion, served 7 aces and won 79 percent of points behind her first serve. Tomljanovic will face a far greater test when she comes up against Johanna Konta on Tuesday evening on the main court.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair. With over 100 ranking places between them, on paper it looks like a one-sided match but Tomljanovic is much better than her ranking suggests and if she serves well and plays consistent tennis from the baseline, this could be a close one.

Kiki Bertens vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, 🇫🇷🐌 R1 Preview + Prediction
(18) 🇳🇱 Kiki Bertens vs 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Kiki Bertens looms as a dark horse heading into Roland Garros 2017. Bertens made her big breakthrough at the event last year when she reached the semi-finals of the tournament, Bertens arrives in Paris on a high after winning the title in Nuremburg. Bertens takes on Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round in Paris, a potentially dangerous first round opponent for Bertens.

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Eugenie Bouchard vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Acapulco R1 Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, 🇲🇽🍐 Acapulco R1 Preview
(6) 🇨🇦 Eugenie Bouchard to defeat 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Ajla Tomljanovic will make her long-awaited return to competitive action on Tuesday when she takes on the sixth seeded Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round in Acapulco. Tomljanovic has not played a competitive match in over a year due to a shoulder injury. It is likely to be a tough return for Tomljanovic, but winning or losing will not be her main concern here, just getting through the match without pain would be a win for the talented Australian. Whilst, it is essential that Bouchard claim a victory here.

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Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kateryna Bondarenko, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kateryna Bondarenko

Ajla Tomljanovic will be representing Australia at Melbourne Park for the second year in 2016 and will start her Australian Open campaign with a first round match against Kateryna Bondarenko. Tomljanovic’s preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year have unfortunately been hampered by injury, it will be interesting to see to what extent Ajla has recovered and whether she can navigate her way through a very winnable first round match.

Tomljanovic started the year at her home town event at the Brisbane International, unfortunately for Ajla she didn't last long. Ajla was thrashed by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-2 in the opening round, the adopted Australian was clearly struggling with an abdominal injury and was a shadow of her best. Ajla decided to withdraw from the Sydney International and has been in Melbourne training for about 1 week and seems to be in a much better position to compete at a much higher level.

 

Kateryna Bondarenko made a solid start to the season in Brisbane, picking up victories over Sakkari and Osaka as she progressed though the qualifying draw. However, the Ukrainian suffered a disappointing first round loss to Madison Brengle in the main draw and made it back-to-back first round losses a week later in Hobart where she was defeated by Parmentier in the first round of qualifying in Hobart.

This will be the first ever meeting between Ajla and Kateryna, both will see this as a real opportunity to advance to the second round. I expect Tomljanovic to get the victory here, this is a really important match for her as she will be desperate to impress the Australian public at some stage during this Australian summer, a first round loss would be pretty disastrous. Bondarenko hasn’t won a match in Melbourne since 2010 and is a very average player. Tomljanovic certainly has far more class and ability should find a way to win this one.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in 3 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Brisbane R1 Preview

Brisbane R1: (6) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (wc) Ajla Tomljanovic

An interesting first round clash from the Brisbane International sees sixth seed Carla Suarez Navarro come up against local wild-card Ajla Tomljanovic. This is an important match for both ladies who thrive off momentum and confidence, both will see this as a winnable match.

Carla Suarez Navarro made a spectacular start to 2015 but her form deteriorated significantly towards the end of the year. The Spaniard will be rejuvenated heading into 2016 and can draw confidence from her results during the first half of 2015. Carla has generally struggled in Brisbane, winning just 3 matches from her previous 4 appearances at the event. The fast courts don’t suit her game.

 

Brisbane resident Ajla Tomljanovic has once again been awarded a wild card to the event. Ajla had a really disappointing season in 2015, consistently underachieving and letting herself down. Ajla has seemingly had a successful offseason, taking part in the IPTL where she was able to train with fellow competitors. 2016 is a big year for Ajla, she will want to impress in Australia and show the public what she is capable of, something she is yet to do.

Carla holds a perfect 2-0 record over Ajla, both victories were in 2014. A 6-3 6-3 win at Roland Garros and a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win at the US Open. Ajla certainly has the ability to trouble Carla, Brisbane seems like the perfect place to avenge her previous losses to the Spaniard. Ajla is very comfortable with the conditions in Brisbane, having trained at the Queensland Tennis Centre during the offseason. The fast conditions will help Ajla in this match-up, she has all the weapons to hurt Carla and start her season on a high.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets

Ajla Tomljanovic vs Karin Knapp, U.S Open R1 Preview

U.S Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Karin Knapp

There were big expectations placed upon Ajla Tomljanovic heading into 2015, however the Australian has failed to fire. Ajla has one last big opportunity to make an impact in 2015, starting with a winnable first round clash against Italy’s Karin Knapp.

Ajla Tomljanovic’s form during the U.S Open was typical of her season, there were glimpses of brilliance but some incredible lows. Ajla picked up an impressive come from behind victory over Madison Keys to reach the quarter-finals in Stanford where she would succumb to Karolina Pliskova. Ajla played some stunning tennis in the final set against Keys, it’s a shame we don’t get to see her play at that level very often. Ajla’s preparation for New York ended on a sour note, thumped by Irina Falconi in the final round of qualifying in Connecticut.

 

Karin Knapp has shown reasonable form over the last few months, her ranking is steadily rising and she only just missed out on a seeding in New York. Knapp went on deep runs in Bad Gastein and Baku but her results during the U.S Open series weren’t so great. Knapp suffered a humiliating 0-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Rogers Cup before reaching the third round in Cincinnati where she was smashed by Serena Williams 0-6 2-6.

Knapp defeated Tomljanovic 7-5 6-2 in Hobart earlier this year in what was their only previous encounter. Both Ajla and Karin will see this as an opportunity for a rare Grand Slam victory, it’s a tough one to call. I’m going to side with Tomljanovic. Ajla’s upside is far greater, hopefully she will bring her a-game to Flushing Meadows, I have a feeling she will.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Karin Knapp in 2 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Stanford QF Preview

Stanford QF: (4) Karolina Pliskova vs Ajla Tomljanovic

Another fascinating quarter-final matchup on Friday sees Karolina Pliskova take on Ajla Tomljanovic in a battle of two of the tours most powerful young talents.

Karolina Pliskova’s first half of the year was good enough to see her obtain a prime position to reach the WTA Finals in Singapore. The Czech kick-started her 2015 U.S Open series with a solid 7-5 6-2 victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm on Thursday afternoon. Pliskova’s serve was typically effective, saving all three break points she faced and winning a high percentage of first service points. Karolina will face a much greater test when she comes up against the dangerous Tomljanovic on Friday.

 

After a mostly disappointing first half to the year, Tomljanovic has made a very positive start to her U.S Open Series campaign. Tomljanovic won 12 straight games on route to a 3-6 6-0 6-0 first round victory over Vitalia Diatchenko before picking up her second top 20 victory of the year with another come from behind victory over Madison Keys in the second round.

Madison Keys dominated the opening set, however Tomljanovic was able to turn things around to record an confidence boosting 1-6 6-4 6-1 victory over the American. Ajla served well and returned well, firing deep returns at Keys and forcing the American to make mistakes. Ajla is well prepared for another big server in the form of Pliskova in the next round.

 

This will be the first tour level meeting between Karolina and Ajla. The two have met once before at the challenger level, Tomljanovic prevailed in 2 sets back in 2011.

This promises to be a fascinating encounter, I think Tomljanovic can cause another upset here. Ajla’s victory over Keys is perfect preparation for a match against Pliskova, Ajla showed that she has the game to unsettle a powerful opponent.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets

Madison Keys vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Stanford R2 Preview

Stanford R2: (7) Madison Keys vs Ajla Tomljanovic

The pick of the second round matches at the 2015 Bank of the West Classic sees Madison Keys take on Ajla Tomljanovic in a battle of two of the tours most talented rising stars. This is an exciting match-up between two extremely powerful opponents, we can expect to see some cracking first strike tennis on the zippy Stanford courts.

Madison Keys advanced to the second round courtesy of a convincing 6-3 6-0 victory over Aleksandra Krunic, avenging her loss to the Serb at last year’s U.S Open. It was an impressive first up performance by Keys in her first competitive match since her quarter-final showing at Wimbledon. Keys was superb in the first half of the season, particularly at the Grand Slam level and will be looking to continue that form in the United States and perhaps reach her first WTA Finals campaign.

 

Ajla Tomljanovic will enter this match full of momentum, Tomljanovic won the last 12 games in her 3-6 6-0 6-0 first round victory over Vitalia Diatchenko. Tomljanovic has failed to fire in season 2015, the second half of the season could be career defining for the talented Australian.

In their only previous encounter, Madison Keys prevailed in an extremely tight match 6-0 3-6 7-6 in the second round at the Sydney International last year.

 

Keys will enter this match as the strong favourite on the back of her superior form. However there is very little to separate these two. Both ladies possess big serves, Madison’s serve is more effective and more reliable. Tomljanovic possess greater variety from the baseline, and could pose a massive threat to Keys if she serves well.

This should be a really tight match, I fancy an upset here.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

2015 Bank of the West Classic Stanford, Tournament Preview

2015 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford - Tournament Preview

After three weeks of random international events around the globe, the tour heats right back up with the beginning of the 2015 U.S Open Series. The Bank of the West Classic in Stanford is the first of four premier level events in the lead up to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York. This is always one of the most exciting periods of the season.

The Bank of the West Classic has once again attracted a reasonably strong field, 8 top 20 players will be in action in Stanford this week. However defending champion Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from the event with a right elbow injury, a major blow for the tournament. Late wild cards, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska will now enter the tournament as the top two seeds.

 

A new champion will be crowned this week in Stanford, there are no former champions in the draw. Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber are the only two ladies to have reached the final.

The first quarter of the draw is headlined by the number one seed, Caroline Wozniacki. Surprisingly, this will be the Dane’s first ever appearance in Stanford. Caroline’s quarter of the draw is littered with dangerous opponents. The world number 5 will receive a bye into the second round where she will face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Varvara Lepchenko, two potentially dangerous first up opponents.

Caroline is projected to meet Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals. The German faces a tough opening round challenge, coming up against compatriot Carina Witthoeft. A second round clash with Mona Barthel is likely to await the winner. The quarter-final clash between Caroline and Andrea seems likely.

 

Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are the two seeded players in the second quarter of the draw. Both ladies are right in the mix to reach the WTA Finals for the first time. Pliskova will receive a bye into the second round where she is likely to run into Sabine Lisicki in what would be an exciting second round match-up.

1st Half Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki def. Sabine Lisicki 

Madison Keys plays Aleksandra Krunic in the first round and could come up against Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round. A tricky draw for the American.

The third quarter of the draw features Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina. Suarez Navarro has been one of the most consistent performers this year and is also on track to reach the WTA finals for the first time in her career. This is another great opportunity for Carla to pick up some more points, Carla receives a bye into the second round before facing either Alison Riske or Tatjana Maria for a spot the final 8.

 

Elina Svitolina is one to watch out for during the US Open series. Elina faces a qualifier in the opening round before a potential showdown with fellow rising start Caroline Garcia in the second round.

The final quarter of the draw is arguably the strongest as it features two of the tournament favourites, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber. Radwanska should cruise into the final 8, the Pole receives a bye into the second round where she will face either CiCi Bellis or a qualifier.

Angelique Kerber’s passage to the final 8 will be a little more difficult, the German faces Daria Gavrilova in a tough opening round matchup before a potential clash with Ana Konjuh in the second round. Aga and Angie are both quite experienced in Stanford and should set up a mouth-watering quarter-final match-up.

2nd Half Prediction: Aga Radwanska def. Carla Suarez Navarro

 

Caroline Wozniacki and Aga Radwanska aren't the strongest and most ruthless top seeds, but I fancy both to reach the final. Wozniacki’s biggest threat is likely to come in the semi-finals against either Madison Keys, Sabine Lisicki or Karolina Pliskova. The Dane has always performed well on the North American hard courts and things shouldn't be any different here. Whilst Aga’s biggest threat is clearly Angelique Kerber, I would give Aga the slight edge given her positive record over Angie.

Final Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Caroline Wozniacki