Caroline Garcia vs Anna Schmiedlova, Dubai R1 Preview

Dubai R1: Caroline Garcia vs Anna Schmiedlova

Two of the tours most promising rising stars will collide in an exciting first round match on Monday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when Caroline Garcia comes up against Anna Schmiedlova. Both ladies have made relatively disappointing starts to the season and will look at this match as an opportunity to gain a much needed boost in confidence.

Caroline Garcia’s Australian Open campaign started off in promising fashion after amassing a perfect record at the Hopman Cup and a good week in Sydney. However, Garcia’s Australian summer ultimately ended in disappointment when she suffered a first round loss to Barbora Strycova in Melbourne. Garcia still arrives in Dubai in some good form after guiding France to a crucial Fed Cup victory over Italy last weekend. Garcia recorded victories over Camila Giorgi and Sara Errani, both in straight sets. There is an opportunity for Garcia to go on a deep run this week given the vulnerability of the top seeds in the draw.

 

Anna Schmiedlova had a wonderful season 2015 but has been unable to bring that form into 2016. Schmiedlova has suffered some crushing defeats in 2016, including straight set losses to Varvara Lepchenko, Monica Puig and Daria Kasatkina during the Australian summer. The Slovakian has shown that she is a quality player and will no doubt turn her poor form around at some stage in the near future, this match could be a good opportunity for Schmiedlova to gain a much needed win.

This will be the first career meeting between Garcia and Schmiedlova. These two are pretty evenly matched and have similar capabilities. However, Garcia looks to have the edge heading into this particular match. The Frenchwoman has the better form heading into this match, playing much more consistent tennis. Garcia is likely to hold serve easier than her opponent in this match-up, one of the key differences between the pair who are both very competent from the baseline.

Prediction: Caroline Garcia to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 3 sets


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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

Garbine Muguruza vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wuhan QF Preview

 Wuhan QF: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Two of the tour’s most promising rising stars will go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of the Wuhan Open on Thursday when Garbine Muguruza comes up against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Garbine Muguruza is now just won win away from reaching the top 5 for the first time in her career and is a couple of victories away from confirming her position at the WTA Finals in Singapore. This is also an extremely important match for Schmiedlova, a real chance to solidify her spot in the top 30 and guarantee a seeding at the first Grand Slam of 2016.

Garbine Muguruza struggled to back up her spectacular run to the final at Wimbledon during the North American summer. The Spaniard seems to have finally settled in Wuhan, producing her two best victories since Wimbledon to advance to the quarter-final stage. After receiving a bye into the second round, Muguruza began her week with a commanding 6-2 6-0 thrashing of Sloane Stephens. Garbine backed up that performance by winning 11 of the last 12 games to defeat Ana Ivanovic 4-6 6-1 6-0.

 

Garbine played near flawless tennis in the final two sets of her third round victory over Ivanovic, reminding us all of what she is capable of when she is at her brilliant best. Garbine will like her chances of moving forward in Wuhan when she comes up against an opponent she has never lost to on Thursday, a real chance to take a big step towards her first appearance at the upcoming WTA Finals in Singapore.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova has also had an impressive week in Wuhan, reaching her 8th quarter-final of the year. Schmiedlova started the week with a routine straight set victory over Duque-Marino before recording one of the biggest victories of her career when she came from 1-6 1-4 down to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 in the third set. Schmiedlova backed up her victory over Wozniacki with a very mature performance to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-2 to set up an intriguing quarter-final clash with Garbine Muguruza, Schmiedlova will be searching for her first career victory over the Spaniard.

 

Garbine Muguruza holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Schmiedlova. Both of their previous meetings took place in 2014, both won by Muguruza in straight sets: a 6-3 6-3 win in Melbourne before a 6-2 6-4 win at Roland Garros.

This seems like a good match-up for Garbine, the Spaniard does most things better than Schmiedlova, the Slovakian will need to rely on her superior defensive skills and hope Muguruza has an off day. That seems unlikely, Garbine has played some awesome tennis this week and should be too powerful for Schmiedlova. With a position in Singapore on the line, this is a match Garbine simply cannot afford to lose.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets

Kristina Mladenovic vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wuhan R3 Preview

Wuhan R3: Kristina Mladenovic vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

An unexpected third round match-up at the Wuhan sees Kristina Mladenovic take on Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. This will be the first career meeting between Mladenovic and Schmiedlova, a wonderful opportunity for both to reach a rare premier 5 level quarter-final and pick up valuable ranking points.

Kristina Mladenovic is finally starting to live up to her enormous potential. The Frenchwoman reached her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final at the U.S Open last month and she now has an opportunity to go on a deep run in Wuhan. Mladenovic started her week with a convincing 6-1 6-4 victory over Patricia Tig before advancing to the third round with a 7-5 1-6 6-2 win over Madison Keys. It was a big victory for Mladenovic, another big scalp she has claimed in 2015.

 

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova continues to impress. The Slovakian reached the semi-finals in Seoul last week and has made a fabulous start to her Wuhan campaign. Schmiedlova recorded a 6-4 6-4 first round victory over Duque-Marino before picking up arguably the biggest victory of her career in the second round where she defeated Caroline Wozniacki 1-6 6-4 7-6.

Schmiedlova trailed 1-6 1-4 and looked destined for a routine loss, however the Slovakian really raised her level, matching Wozniacki from the baseline in a stunning display to turn the match around. The Schmiedlova backhand more than matched Wozniacki’s famous backhand, the Slovakian did well at the end of the match to maintain her composure as Wozniacki took several medial timeouts at questionable times.

This will be the first career meeting between Mladenovic and Schmiedlova, this is a critical match for both, a great opportunity to reach the quarter-finals. I’m leaning towards Schmiedlova, the Slovakian is just a little more reliable and is far more solid from the baseline. It will be tough for Mladenovic to hit through Schmiedlova.

Prediction: Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Anna Schmiedlova, U.S Open R3 Preview

U.S Open R3: (5) Petra Kvitova vs (32) Anna Schmiedlova

A resurgent Petra Kvitova continues her U.S Open campaign on Saturday when she comes up against Slovakian rising-star Anna Schmiedlova. Kvitova made a horrendous start to the U.S Open series but is now on a six match winning streak after claiming the title last week in New Haven and cruising through her opening two matches at Flushing Meadows.

Petra Kvitova suffered back-to-back first round exits at the start of the U.S Open series but was able to build some serious momentum last week in New Haven where she defeated quality opponents on route to the title. Kvitova has carried that momentum into the final Grand Slam of the year where she has gotten off to a flying start. Petra stormed past Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1 in the first round before coming up with another clean performance to defeat Nicole Gibbs 6-3 6-4. Petra will face her first real test of the tournament on Saturday when she comes up against an in form Anna Schmiedlova for a spot in the fourth round.

 

Anna Schmiedlova also arrived in New York full of confidence after coming through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals in Cincinnati. Schmiedlova was rewarded with a seeding at this year’s U.S Open and she has made the most of her seeding to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time in her career. The Slovakian picked up an impressive 6-3 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges in the first round before surviving an extremely close second round encounter. Defeating Danka Kovinic 6-4 5-7 6-4. It was a mature victory by Schmiedlova in the end, she had chances to close the match in two sets but was able to keep her cool towards the end of a tight third set.

This will be the first career meeting between Kvitova and Schmiedlova. First up on Arthur Ashe Stadium, I expect Kvitova to have the edge in this match-up. Kvitova is in great form at the moment and should simply be too powerful for Schmiedlova. The Slovakian often relies on her good movement and ability to grind out points but that will not be easy against Kvitova in the quicker conditions in New York.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 3 sets

Jelena Jankovic vs Anna Schmiedlova, Cincinnati QF Preview

Cincinnati QF #4: Jelena Jankovic vs (Q) Anna Schmiedlova

An unexpected quarter-final match-up sees Jelena Jankovic come up against Anna Schmiedlova for a place in the semi-finals at the Western & Southern Open. This is an important match for both ladies, who are in very different stages in their respective careers.

Jelena Jankovic once again finds herself in the later stages of the Western & Southern Open. The 2009 Champion has now reached the quarter-final stage in Cincinnati 5 times, Jelena clearly enjoys playing in Ohio.

Jankovic has picked up some solid victories this week, defeating Madison Keys 7-6 6-4 in the second round before defeating Karolina Pliskova 6-2 3-6 7-5 to advance to the final 8. Jankovic was down 2-5 in the deciding set but somehow found a way to grind her way past a wayward Pliskova. Jankovic has typically saved her best tennis for the U.S Open series, the draw has opened up nicely for her to perhaps reach the final this week and build some confidence ahead of another deep run in New York?

 

Anna Schmiedlova has had a wonderful week in Cincinnati, fighting her way through the qualifying draw before reaching her first ever quarter-final at a premier level event. Schmiedlova’s week has been highlighted by a 4-6 6-3 6-1 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round, the Slovak’s second career top 20 victory. Schmiedlova dictated play, hitting 44 winners in a superb performance. Schmiedlova backed up her victory over the Pole with solid victories over Irina-Camelia Begu and Varvara Lepchenko.

This will be the first career meeting between Jankovic and Schmiedlova and it promises to be an extremely tight match. It’s difficult to pick a winner in this one. The obvious difference between the two is Jankovic’s far greater experience which could play a factor in this one. Jankovic should also be a bit fresher heading into this one given Schmiedlova had to come through the qualifying draw, Jankovic should have the slight edge in this one. 

Prediction: Jelena Jankovic to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 3 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Anna Schmiedlova, Cincinnati R1 Preview

Cincinnati R1: (13) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (Q) Anna Schmiedlova

Agnieszka Radwanska will kick-start her 2015 Western & Southern Open campaign with a first round clash against qualifier: Anna Schmiedlova. The Pole has made a solid start to her U.S Open series campaign and will be keen to continue to build momentum ahead of the final Grand Slam of the year in New York. The Pole is certainly one to look out for this week, seemingly perfectly poised for a deep run.

After a disappointing start to the year, a rejuvenated Radwanska got her season back on track during the grass court season. The Pole seems to have picked up where she left off, playing some solid tennis in Stanford and Toronto. Aga’s results haven’t been outstanding in the last couple of weeks, but there have been some promising signs for the Pole.

Radwanska suffered quarter-final losses in Stanford and Toronto, beaten by Angelique Kerber in Stanford and Simona Halep in Toronto. Aga won the first set in each of those matches, playing some of her best tennis. However Aga was unable to sustain a high level for long enough in each match and was ultimately outlasted by Kerber and Halep. Aga’s physical weaknesses remain her greatest problem moving forward.

 

Anna Schmiedlova’s recent form has been solid, however most of her victories in the last couple of months have been at international events and mostly on clay courts. Schmiedlova advanced through to the main draw in Cincinnati through qualifiers, picking up two solid victories over Taylor Townsend and Olga Govortsova.

In the only previous encounter between Aga and Anna, the Pole picked up a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 victory in Miami earlier this year. Schmiedlova is a crafty opponent from the baseline, however Aga more consistent and has more strings to her bow. The quicker conditions in Cincinnati should heavily favour the Pole.

Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets

2014 WTA Collector Swedish Open Preview

The Collector Swedish Open has been rocked by a string of withdrawals in the lead to the event. World number 1 Serena Williams was set to defend her title but decided not to compete in Bastad because she hasn't fully recovered from the viral illness that saw her exit Wimbledon in bizarre circumstances. Flavia Pennetta, Carla Suarez Navarro, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Yvonne Meusburger were all down to play in Bastad but have all pulled out prior to the commencement of the tournament. In some rare good news for the tournament officials and spectators, Alize Cornet accepted a late wild card into the event; the Frenchwoman will replace Serena Williams as the number 1 seed in Bastad.

Alize has had some big victories this year, most notably her two victories over Serena Williams at Wimbledon and in Dubai. Cornet also defeated Radwanska on route to her only title of the year in Katowice. Cornet hasn't had the greatest results on clay; she has a 2-4 record on what is considered to be her most preferred surface. In her final clay court event of the year, Cornet has a good chance to rectify her poor clay court record this season and claim her second title of the year. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Camila Giorgi and Yaroslava Shvedova are among the seeded players also in action at the Swedish Open.

Alize Cornet faces a qualifier in the opening round whilst her second round opponent will likely be Jana Cepelova. The number 1 seed is then projected to face Polona Hercog In the quarter-finals. Hercog has a rather comfortable route to the Quarter-final stage.

Quarter-Final 1 Prediction: (1) Alize Cornet vs (8) Polona Hercog

The second quarter is wide open with seeded players Yaroslava Shvedova and Annika Beck both seemingly vulnerable to early round defeats. If Beck gets through her first round match with Piter she will face the winner of Arruabarrena and Begu. Arruabarrena defeated Annika Beck last week in a tight three set match in Bucharest. Shvedova doesn't usually play her best tennis on clay, however she should at least make the quarter-finals in Bastad as she faces a qualifier in the opening round before playing Scheepers or Dique-Marino in the second round.

Quarter-Final 2 Prediction: (4) Yaroslava Shvedova vs Lara Arruabarrena

The third quarter of the draw looks like the toughest section of the draw. Camila Giorgi, Anna Schmiedlova, Mona Barthel and Kaia Kanepi all feature in this section. Giorgi has been playing a lot of tennis of late. After two commanding victories she suffered a shock loss to Shelby Rogers in the quarter-finals at Bad Gastein last week. Giorgi faces a qualifier in the opening round before a potential second round match against Mona Barthel. Giorgi should be primed for a big week in Bastad; I wouldn't be surprised to see her win the title. Anna Schmiedlova suffered a surprise first round exit in Bucharest last week, if she gets through her opening match in Bastad she is likely to face the in form Kai Kanepi in the second round. Kanepi has played two clay court challenger tournaments since Wimbledon; she won the latest one in Biarritz.

Quarter-Final 3 Prediction: (5) Anna Schmiedlova vs (3) Camila Giorgi

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rounds out the draw, the Russian started the season off well but injury amongst other issues have derailed her season. Pavlyuchenkova faces a tough opening round match, coming up against the in form Grace Min. The American youngster made the semi-finals of a WTA event for the first time last week in Bad Gastein before falling to the eventual champion Andrea Petkovic in three tight sets. Torro-Flor is the other seeded player in this section; she too faces a tough opening round match. The Spaniard will play Julia Goerges for a spot in the second round. Anyone could come through this section of the draw, Pavlyuchenkova is due for a good week, and hopefully she can deliver

Quarter-Final 4 Prediction: Julia Goerges vs (2) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Final prediction: (3) Camila Giorgi def. (1) Alize Cornet:

I think we may see a repeat of this years Katowice final where Alize Cornet came up against Camilia Giorgi in the final. This would be a good result for the tournament, their final in Katowice was a great match, Cornet eventually prevailed 7-6 5-7 7-5. I’m picking Giorgi to avenge that loss here.

2014 WTA BRD Bucharest Open Preview

After a very enjoyable couple of weeks in London that saw Petra Kvitova emerge victorious to capture her second Grand Slam title there will be two international events this week both on clay.

Given the recent success of Romanian's on the WTA tour, most notably Simona Halep's stunning rise up the WTA rankings last year a new tournament in the Romanian capital of Bucharest will be staged this week. No less than 8 Romanians will be competing at Bucharest this week including Simona Halep. Simona is the number 1 seed and will be the centre of attention this week, local fans will be hoping to see the world number three claim her second title of the season. Simona has had an awesome first half to season, starting off in Australia where she reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final before falling to eventual finalist Dominika Cibulkova. Simona captured her first premier title in Doha, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber in the process. In Paris, Simona reached her first Grand Slam semi-final where she was defeated in a thrilling three set battle by Maria Sharapova. The ever-consistent Halep reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon but fell in straight sets to Eugenie Bouchard.

Apart from Simona there really isn't much to get excited about here, the draw is quite weak. Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova and Karin Knapp make up the rest of the top four seeds at the inaugural event.

Simona has actually been dealt a tricky first round match. The number 1 seed will face Kristina Mladenovic who defeated Simona in their only previous meeting earlier this year indoors in Paris. I suspect the result will be very different this time around but it certainly is a danger game for Simona. Apart from this there are a couple of other interesting first round matches including Vinci vs Dulgheru and Koukalova vs Niculsecu.

Simona has been vulnerable in events like this, however I'm sure she will be determined to play well in front of her home fans. I can't see any real threat to Simona in the draw. The number 2 seeded Roberta Vinci is having a horrible season having been knocked out in the opening round at each Grand Slam and is currently on a 5 match losing streak. It would be nice to see Roberta have a deep run here, she really should given the state of the draw. I think this is a great chance for promising youngster Anna Schmiedlova to come through the bottom section of the draw. The clay court specialist showed what she is capable off when she defeated Venus Williams at Roland Garros last month.

Predicted Chmapion: Simona Halep def. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

First Round Match Predictions:

Lara Arruabarrena to defeat (5) Annika Beck in three sets, Veronica Cepede Royg to defeat Cagla Buyukakcay in straight sets, (3) Klara Koukalova to defeat Monica Niculescu in straight sets, (8) Polona Hercog to defeat Anna Tatishvili in straight sets, (6) Karolina Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Kristina Kucova in straight sets, (WC) Cristina Dinu to defeat Nadiya Kichenok in three sets, Katarzyna Piter to defeat (WC) Cristina-Andreea Mitu in three sets, (4) Karin Knapp to defeat (WC) Raluca Olaru in straight sets, (2) Roberta Vinci to defeat Alexandra Dulgheru in straight sets, Aleksandra Krunic to defeat Alexandra Panova in three sets, (1) Simona Halep to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets, (7) Petra Cetkovska to defeat Alexandra Cadantu in straight sets

Schmiedlova Fights past Venus Williams

Anna Schiedlova has claimed the biggest victory of her career, coming from a set and a break down to defeat Venus Williams on Court Phillip Chatrier.

It was a competitive start to the opening set with four straight service holds. From here it was all Venus Williams, the American dominated her younger opponent. The Slovakian's serve was being obliterated by Williams, returning serve from the service line. Venus Williams won 5 straight games to take the opening set 6-2.

When Schmiedlova went down a break early in the second set, it looked as though Williams was on track for an easy victory but the Slovakian had other ideas. Schmiedlova would break straight back before going on an impressive run. The 19 year old won 5 straight games to take a commanding 5-2 lead in the second set. At 5-3, Schmiedlova successfully served out the set.

Venus Williams was now the one finding her second serve being dominated time after time, Schmiedlova breaking to start the deciding set. The Slovakian would quickly race away to a 3-0 lead, Venus Williams clearly struggling. At this point the Slovakian perhaps got a little tight with the finish line within reach, she was broken in a meek service game before Williams held to close the gap to 3-2. From here the match remained on serve. At 3-5 when serving to stay in the match, Williams went down 15-40 but managed to save two match points and hold to force the youngster to serve for the match. The Slovakian was up to the task, an incredible backhand cross court winner sealing the deal.

A very impressive performance from Schmiedlova, her attitude was particularly impressive!