Mihaela Buzarnescu vs Alison Riske, Hobart QF Preview

Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ QF Preview
🇷🇴 Mihaela Buzarnescu vs 🇺🇸 Alison Riske

A first time meeting between Mihaela Buzarnescu and Alison Riske will take place at the quarter-final stage of the Hobart International on Thursday. Buzarnescu continues to rise up the rankings and is now on the verge of reaching the top 50 for the first time in her career at the mature age of 29. The Romanian has won a couple of good matches in straight sets this week and will fancy her chances against America’s Alison Riske.

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It is amazing that Buzarnescu is on the verge of reaching the top 50. The Romanian has won just 5 matches at the WTA tour level over the last 2 years, Buzarnescu plays almost exclusively at the ITF level where she has clearly had a lot of success over the years. The 29-year-old started the week with a 6-2 6-4 win over Alize Cornet before beating Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-5 6-4.

Alison Riske has made a decent start to the season. Riske had a good win over Wang in Shenzhen last week in straight sets before pushing Sharapova to a third set. Riske started her Hobart campaign with a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win over Katerina Siniakova. Riske received some good fortune as she was handed a spot into the quarter-finals as Flipkens gave Riske a walkover into the next round.

Alison Riske vs Maria Sharapova, Shenzhen R2 Preview

Shenzhen Open, R2 Preview
🇺🇸 Alison Riske vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova continues her Shenzhen Open campaign on Tuesday with a second round clash against 2017 runner-up Alison Riske. Sharapova has enjoyed her time in China over the last few months. The Russian won her first title since her doping suspension in Tianjin late last year and is again receiving huge support at her first appearance in Shenzhen. Riske looms as good test for Sharapova, Riske also enjoys the conditions in China, a runner-up in Shenzhen in 2017. Riske will be desperate to emulate that run and reverse her poor 2017 season ending form.

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Maria Sharapova got off to a good start in Shenzhen, Sharapova claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-0 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu. Sharapova was able to navigate her way through a tricky opening set, the 5-time former Grand Slam champion was down a break early but eventually found her rhythm and found her range and was clearly too powerful for the unorthodox Romanian. Sharapova will face a different test against Alison Riske, the American will look to take time away from Sharapova where possible and is likely to be a much tougher task.

Alison Riske ended 2017 in terrible form, losing 9 of her last 10 matches. The American had a great run to the finals in Shenzhen last year where she upset Agnieszka Radwanska on route to the final, Riske will be hoping a return to Shenzhen will spark a new year form reversal. The signs were good in Riske’s first match of the event. Riske claimed a 7-5 6-0 upset win over the 5th seeded Qiang Wang. It was a big win for Riske, a confidence boosting win, especially the way she won the last 8 games in the match.

Sharapova has a perfect 2-0 record over Riske. Firstly, Sharapova beat Riske in 3 sets on grass in Birmingham way back 2010. More recently, also on grass, Sharapova won 6-3 6-0 at Wimbledon in 2014. I expect this to be closer than their previous match, both enter this match with confidence. Sharapova ended her match with 9 straight games won whilst Riske won 8 games in a row.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Alison Riske, Stanford R2 Preview

#BOTWClassic, 🇺🇸🐻 Stanford R2 Preview + Prediction
(4) 🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs 🇺🇸 Alison Riske

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will begin her U.S Open series campaign on Wednesday when she comes up against Alison Riske in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. As the fourth seed, Pavlyuchenkova received a bye through to the second round whilst Alison Riske progressed to the second round courtesy of a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Magda Linette. Surprisingly, it is Alison Riske who has had the edge in this match-up, the American holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over the Russian.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during the All Access Hour at the 2017 Bank of the West Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

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Garbine Muguruza vs Alison Riske, Birmingham R2 Preview

WTA Aegon Classic, 🇬🇧 Birmingham R2 Preview
(6) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs 🇺🇸 Alison Riske

Garbine Muguruza continues her Birmingham campaign on Thursday with a potentially difficult second round clash against Alison Riske. The Spaniard scrapped through her opening round match of the tournament against Elizaveta Kulichkova and will need to produce an improved performance if she is to get past grass-court specialist Alison Riske. This will be the first career meeting between Muguruza and Riske.

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Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alison Riske, Shenzhen Final Preview

Shenzhen Final: (1) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alison Riske

Agnieszka Radwanska is just 1 win away from making the perfect start her to the 2016 season. The Pole will come up against Alison Riske in the final of the Shenzhen Open on Saturday where she looks to claim her 18th WTA title. Aga won the only previous meeting between the pair quite convincingly, it will be interesting to see if the American can put up more of a fight on this occasion.

Courtesy of reaching the final in Shenzhen, Aga will move up to number 4 in the world on Monday and will therefore be the 4th seed at the upcoming Australian Open. Aga cannot face Serena Williams until the semi-final stage in Melbourne. Radwanska has cruised through to the final in Shenzhen without dropping a set, collecting convincing victories over Aleksandra Krunic, Shuai Zhang, Qiang Wang and Anna-Lena Friedsam. Aga’s service numbers have been encouraging this week, maintaining a very high first serve percentage and she has not been broken on more than 2 occasions in any of her matches.

 

Alison Riske has had forgettable couple seasons of late, however the American has made a really promising start to the season by reaching the final in Shenzhen. Riske’s progression through to the final has been far less cruisy than Aga’s. Riske’s first three matches went the distance, twice coming for a set down. Notably, Alison came from 3-6 0-4 down to defeat Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round. Riske confirmed her place in Saturday’s final with an impressive 6-2 6-4 victory over Timea Babos.

In the only previous encounter between the pair, Radwanska recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-1 victory at Indian Wells last year. This is a really tough match-up for Riske, the American doesn’t really have the power or the variety to really challenge Radwanska. Furthermore, Aga is far more experienced in finals and will likely handle this occasion much better than her inexperienced opponent. I expect Aga to win this pretty easily.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Alison Riske in 2 sets

Eugenie Bouchard vs Alison Riske, U.S Open R1 Preview

U.S Open R1: (25) Eugenie Bouchard vs Alison Riske

Eugenie Bouchard has been dealt a reasonable first round match-up, the Canadian will come up against Alison Riske, an opponent she has defeated four times in a row. Eugenie Bouchard’s dismal form continued during the U.S Open series but she will be hopeful her game will once again click at the Grand Slam level.

Eugenie Bouchard’s dismal season has been well documented, the Canadian has justifiably received a lot of criticism for her shocking results. Bouchard has won just 3 matches since Indian Wells whilst slumping to 14 defeats. The Canadian managed to pick up just 1 victory during the U.S Open series and arrives in New York on the back of an embarrassing 1-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Connecticut Open last week.

Eugenie Bouchard has been spotted working with Jimmy Connors at Flushing Meadows in the last week in an attempt to somehow reverse her miserable form.

 

Alison Riske’s recent form hasn’t been much better. The American arrives in New York on the back on first-up exits in Cincinnati and New Haven. Riske did have some success earlier on in the summer, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets on route to the Quarter-finals in Stanford. The American famously defeated Petra Kvitova in the third round of the 2013 U.S Open, but has failed to make an impact ever since.

Eugenie Bouchard holds a 4-1 head to head record over Riske. Bouchard has won the last four encounter between the pair, including 2 straight set victories in their most recent encounters. Bouchard defeated Rise 7-6 6-3 earlier this year in Eastbourne and 6-2 6-3 in Wuhan last year.

Another first round loss for Bouchard would be disastrous. Despite her recent troubles she should be reasonably confident heading into this match given her record over the American. There are no excuses and nowhere to hide for Bouchard, she simply must win this and I think she will.

Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Alison Riske in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs Alison Riske, Stanford QF Preview

Stanford QF: (8) Elina Svitolina vs Alison Riske

A great opportunity to reach a rare premier level semi-final presents itself to Elina Svitolina and Alison Riske on Friday when they go head to head at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford.

Elina Svitolina has put in two typically gutsy performances on route to the final 8 in Stanford. The Ukrainian needed three very tight sets to defeat compatriot Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6 6-4 7-5 in her opening match. Svitolina then overcame a strong fight from Nicole Gibbs, prevailing 6-3 7-6 to set up a quarter-final match with Alison Riske.

 

Alison Riske was also forced to work hard for her opening round victory, defeating Tatjana Maria 6-2 5-7 6-1. The erratic American secured her spot in the final 8 with just her second ever top 10 victory, upsetting Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-4. Alison Riske has typically saved her best tennis for the North American hard courts and is a real threat when she brings her a-game.

This will be the first tour level meeting between Elina and Alison. The two have met at the challenger level, it was Svitolina who prevailed in three sets back in 2012.

 

This is a tough match to call, however I’m going to give Svitolina the slight edge. The Ukrainian has been far more consistent this year, her base level is far higher than Riske’s. Svitolina will be able to absorb enough of the American’s pace to frustrate Riske. The Ukrainian should grind out yet another victory.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Alison Riske 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

Lucie Safarova vs Alison Riske, Wimbledon R1 Preview

(6) Lucie Safarova vs Alison Riske

Lucie Safarova opens her 2015 Wimbledon campaign against the dangerous Alison Riske. Safarova has had made a magnificent start to the season and will enter this match full of confidence, however she is unlikely to have things all her own way in this one.

Lucie Safarova has been totally hit or miss at Grand Slams this year. Lucie was knocked out in the first round at the Australian Open but reached her first Grand Slam singles final at Roland Garros.

Safarova made a disappointing start to her grass court season, defeated by Dominika Cibulkova in two tight sets in her opening round match at Eastbourne. Nevertheless, last years semifinalist is one to watch out for over the next a fortnight. Grass must be considered Lucie’s most dangerous surface, her leftie serve and punishing groundstrokes are even more effective on the quicker surface.

 

Alison Riske also thrives on the grass courts, however her recent form hasn’t been very convincing. Riske has struggled throughout 2015 and suffered early round exits in Birmingham and Eastbourne. The American is yet to win a Grand Slam match this year, suffering first round exits in Melbourne and Paris.

Riske will need to produce her very best if she is avoid another first round loss at a Grand Slam. The American is certainly capable of causing an upset, she famously defeated Petra Kvitova in a stunning performance at the US Open in 2013.

 

Lucie Safarova won the only previous encounter between the two, prevailing 6-4 6-2 earlier this year in Madrid. This will be the first time Lucie Safarova enters a Grand Slam with Semifinal points to defend, there will no doubt be some nerves involved, especially in the opening couple of rounds. However, Lucie has been able to handle her nerves much better over the last couple of seasons.

Although Riske is a dangerous opponent, an upset here is highly unlikely. Safarova is much more consistent and enters this match with far more confidence than her opponent. There may be some nervy moments but Lucie should win this one in straight sets.

Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Alison Riske in 2 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alison Riske, Indian Wells R2 Preview

(7) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alison Riske

2014 finalist: Agnieszka Radwanska, will begin her quest for an elusive Indian Wells title on Friday when she takes on powerful American, Alison Riske. Aga has regularly reached the later stages at the BNP Paribas Open but has repeatedly stumbled at the final hurdle. The Pole will want to go one step further this year and put a mediocre start to the year well and truly behind her.

A lot was expected of Radwanska in 2015 under the guidance of Martina Navratilova. However the Pole has made one of her worst starts to a season in recent memory. Aga has a 6-6 win/loss record this year (including Fed Cup matches), a horrible start by her lofty standards.

 

The Pole has always excelled during the Indian Wells, Miami double, reaching the quarter-finals or better on 5 occasions in Indian Wells and claiming the biggest title of her career in Miami in 2012. Aga will hopefully turn her season around over the next couple of weeks.

Alison Riske advanced to the second round in the Californian Desert with a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The American’s opening round victory on Wednesday was her first victory since Hobart and just fourth of the year.

 

This is a big year for the American, Alison has struggled ever since her shock third round victory Petra Kvitova at the US Open in in 2013, reaching just three quarter-finals ever since. Riske has an aggressive game that could potentially trouble Radwanska, however her ability to sustain a high level for long enough against a quality opponent is highly doubtful.

This will be the first career between Aga and Alison, it will be interesting to see just how aggressive Alison is and whether her powerful game causes Radwanska significant problems. Radwanska usually steamrolls inconsistent hard hitters and should be able to navigate her way into the third round.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Alison Riske in 2 sets