🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne Final Preview 🇩🇰 (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
The 2018 Nature Valley International champion will be crowned on Saturday when Caroline Wozniacki and Aryna Sabalenka go head-to-head in a fascinating final in Eastbourne. The top seeded Wozniacki will be playing for her 29th career title whilst Sabalenka will be looking to claim her very first WTA tour level title. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, a match-up that will feature a huge contrast in styles. Arguably the best defensive player the game has seen over the last decade up against the extremely power, rising star from Belarus.
Wozniacki is into her first final since winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year. Wozniacki earned her spot in Saturday’s final with an extremely hard-fought 2-6 7-6 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber. The Dane saved match point in the second set as Kerber served for the match at 6-5 and always seemed destined to win after that moment in what was a very high quality match. Prior to that win Wozniacki defeated Camila Giorgi (6-2 6-3), Johanna Konta (4-6 6-1 6-4) and Ashleigh Barty (6-4 6-3).
Sabalenka has had the best week of her career thus far in Eastbourne and as a result she will rise to a career high ranking of at 32 in the world. Sabalenka has done things the hard way, winning all 5 of her matches this week in 3 sets. Sabalenka started the week with wins from a set down against Sachia Vickery and Julia Goerges before securing back-to- back wins via a third set tiebreak against Elise Mertens and Karolina Pliskova. Sabalenka booked her spot in a maiden premier level final with an extremely impressive 6-3 1-6 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Sabalenka trailed 3-2 40-0 in the deciding set before cantering to the finish line with a blistering display of power tennis, Radwanska could do nothing to stop her.
There is no doubt that Sabalenka’s best tennis is good enough to make this a very competitive final. However, it has been a long week for the Belarusian and she is in unprecedented territory, can Sabalenka produce one last superb performance to claim the title in Eastbourne?
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🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne SF Preview 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
Agnieszka Radwanska and Aryna Sabalenka will do battle for the first time when they meet in Friday’s first semi-final at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. This is a fascinating battle because of the extreme contrast in styles between the pair, the consistency, versatility and touch of Radwanska against the super-aggressive, powerful game of Sabalenka. Who will prevail?
It has been a great week for Radwanska. The Pole arrived in Eastbourne having not played a match since Istanbul over 2 months ago due to injury. Radwanska kicked off the event with a comfortable straight set win over Timea Babos before fighting from a set down and fending off match points in a 5-7 7-6 6-0 win over Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska received a walkover into the quarter-finals courtesy of a Petra Kvitova withdrawal, the former world number 2 secured her spot in the final 4 with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jelena Ostapenko.
Aryna Sabalenka has threatened to cause big damage at this level for a while now, finally things have fallen into place for the Belarusian in Eastbourne. Sabalenka has done things the hard way, battling through 4 consecutive matches in 3 sets. Sabalenka started the event with wins from a set down over Sachia Vickery and Julia Goerges. The 20-year-old went on to win a pair of matches decided in a final set tiebreak, a 7-5 2-6 7-6 win over Elise Mertens and a 6-3 2-6 7-6 win over Karolina Pliskova, the biggest win of Sabalenka’s career to date.
It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out as they pair go head-to-head for the first time.
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview 🇨🇿 (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
An exciting quarter-final match-up in Eastbourne sees the second seeded Karolina Pliskova take on Aryna Sabalenka, a match-up between two powerful and extremely aggressive players. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, it will be interesting to see how troublesome the Belarusian can be to the defending champion at the Nature Valley International.
Karolina Pliskova stared her title defense in Eastbourne with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The second seed produced an improved performance in her next match as she easily defeated Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-4 in what could have potentially been a tough match.
It has been a tough week for Sabalenka, but a very rewarding week. Sabalenka has threatened to have a big breakthrough all year, finally in was happened with back-to-back wins over top 20 opponents for the first time. Sabalenka started the week with back-to-back wins from a set down, a 4-6 6-0 6-1 win over Sachia Vickery and a 1-6 6-4 6-4 win over Julia Goerges. The Belarusian arguably claimed the biggest win of her career as she defeated Elise Mertens 7-5 2-6 7-6, a gutsy win from a break down in the deciding set.
Don’t expect many long rallies in this match-up, this will be first-strikes tennis at its finest, who will prevail?
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview 🇺🇸 Madison Brengle vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
Madison Brengle and Aryna Sabalenka will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the 2018 Miami Open. This will be a fascinating encounter because of the extreme contrast in styles and personalities. Brengle is a very defensive player with not many weapons at her disposal whilst Sabalenka is as aggressive as it gets and has damaging weapons. Brengle will look to make life tough for Sabalenka by throwing all types of looks at the Belarusian, can Sabalenka maintain her composure and get passed the American?
Madison Brengle is yet to claim a main draw victory at the WTA tour level in 2018. Brengle managed to fight through the qualifying draw in Indian Wells but was eliminated in the opening round of the main draw by Marketa Vondrousova, a fairly uncompetitive 2-6 2-6 defeat for the American. Brengle’s best result of late was her triumph at the ITF 100K event in Midland early last month. Brengle has had some decent results in Miami in the past, including a third round appearance in 2016, the conditions in Miami are pretty good for Brengle.
Aryna Sabalenka continues to rise. Sabalenka had a decent week in Indian Wells, claiming straight set victories over Varvara Lepchenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova before succumbing to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round. Sabalenka’s win over Kuznetsova was a notable one, even though it was Kuznetsova first match of the season, Kuznetsova is always tough to beat. Sabalenka’s talent is undeniable but her shot selection and ability to control her immense power is still a big work in progress.
In the first career meeting between the pair, this is a good match-up for Sabalenka to display her improvement. There is no doubt that Sabalenka has all the weapons to handily defeat Brengle but Sabalenka can lose control in these match-ups against defensive players and hand her opponent victory with unforced errors.
To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here
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Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(18) 🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
A blockbuster opening round match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday sees two of the tours most promising young prospects go head-to-head for the very first time. Barty and Sabalenka both ended 2017 in the best form of their respective careers, both have started 2018 in good form. Barty reached the final in Sydney last week whilst Sabalenka reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Shenzhen and Hobart. Barty and Sabalenka both posses powerful games, it will be fascinating to see who comes up on top here.
Ash Barty will be competing at the Australian Open as the number 1 ranked Australian woman for the first time. A lot of pressure and expectation comes with this title, it will be interesting to see how Barty handles herself. Barty brings good form into her home Grand Slam having reached the Sydney International final last week, Barty’s first final on Australian soil. Barty claimed wins over Cepede Royg, Perez, Strycova and Gavrilova before succumbing to Kerber in straight sets in the final.
Aryna Sabalenka is a player on the rise. At the age of 19, Sabalenka has already caught the attention of the tennis world over the last few months. Sabalenka has made a good start to the season, reaching back-to-back quarter-finals. The Belarussian beat Niculescu and Kovinic in straight sets before losing to Simona Halep in straight sets in Shenzhen. In Hobart, Sabalenka beat Bouchard and Zhang in straight sets before succumbing to Lesia Tsurenko in an uncompetitive 2 set loss. Sabalenka has a huge game, her best is extremely good but she is still trying to find the right balance on court.
Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ QF Preview
(5) 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
Lesia Tsurenko and Aryna Sabalenka will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the Hobart International. Tsurenko and Sabalenka have both been impressive on route to the final 8 in Hobart, both have advanced to this stage of the tournament without dropping a set. This match-up will feature an interesting contrast in styles, the extreme, raw power of Sabalenka against the consistency and defensive skills of Tsurenko, who will win prevail?
Lesia Tsurenko will look to emulate her run to the semi-final stage in Hobart last year as she enters this years quarter-finals. Tsurenko has won a couple of good matches over decent opponents in her first two matches this week. Tsurenko started the week with a hard-fought 7-6 6-2 win over Timea Babos before beating Yulia Putintseva quite easily 6-3 6-2. Tsurenko was able to adapt to two very different opponents, against Babos Tsurenko did well to counter-punch and force errors whilst against Putintseva, Tsurenko stepped up the aggression and dictated from the baseline.
Aryna Sabalenka has started 2018 in impressive fashion by reaching back-to-back quarter-finals. After reaching the quarter-finals in Shenzhen last week, Sabalenka has claimed a couple of strong straight set wins over Eugenie Bouchard and Shuai Zhang to reach the final. Sabalenka confirmed her quarter-final spot in Hobart by upsetting the top seeded Shuai Zhang 7-6 6-4. The Belarussian continues to show that she is one of the tours most exciting prospects, her huge game is capable of troubling most opponents.
It will be interesting to see how Tsurenko handles the power of Sabalenka in their first career meeting.
Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ R2 Preview
(1) 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
Top seeded Shuai Zhang faces a tough test in the second round of the Hobart International on Wednesday where she comes up against in-form Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka. This should be an exciting match-up between two very aggressive players. Sabalenka is one of the hottest players on tour right now, the fearless teenager continues to rise up the rankings and will relish the opportunity of the playing the top seed in Hobart. Will Sabalenka take another step forward or will the more experienced Zhang be too solid?
Shuai Zhang has the strange title of being a top seed this week in Hobart, not a position the world number 35 is used to finding herself in. Zhang made a positive start to her Hobart campaign on Tuesday by defeating Poland’s Magda Linette in straight sets, a 7-5 6-3 victory.
Aryna Sabalenka has seemingly rolled into 2018 with the same dangerous form she ended the 2017 season. Sabalenka had a good week in Shenzhen to start the year, reaching the quarter-finals with 2 commanding wins before succumbing to Simona Halep quite handily. Sabalenka advanced to the second round in Hobart courtesy of 6-4 6-3 win over Eugenie Bouchard in what was a fairly messy match. Both players struggled behind their serve but Sabalenka was the more consistent and clinical of the two.
The only previous meeting between the pair ended in a 6-4 6-2 win for Zhang at an ITF event in 2016. Sabalenka has improved significantly since their last meeting, expect the Belarussian to give Zhang a far tougher test on Wednesday in Hobart.
A fascinating quarter-final clash at the Shenzhen Open sees the current world number 1, Simona Halep come up against Belarussian rising-star Aryna Sabalenka. Halep fought from a set down to defeat Ying-Ying Duan and advance to the final 8 in Shenzhen, the victory also confirmed that Halep will keep her number 1 ranking and head into the Australian Open as the top seed. Halep will face a strong test on Thursday against Sabalenka, the fearless 19-year-old has powered through the draw and has the weapons to trouble the Romanian.
Simona Halep started her 2018 season in convincing fashion, beating Nicole Gibbs 6-4 6-1. Halep faced a much tougher test in the second round where she faced Ying-Ying Duan. Halep was on the back foot as the powerful Chinese player took the opening set by a single break of serve. Halep rallied to claim a 3-6 6-1 6-2 win, showing why she is number 1 in the world. Halep will face another dangerous, powerful opponent in the next round when she comes up against Aryna Sabalenka.
Aryna Sabalenka is now on a 7 match winning streak. Sabalenka ended the 2017 season on a high by winning the Mumbai 125K tournament. Sabalenka has picked up where she left off in 2017, Sabalenka opened her season with a commanding 6-4 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu, a good effort in her first meeting with Romanian. Sabalenka backed-up that win with a commanding 6-1 6-0 demolition of Danka Kovinic. Sabalenka is full of confidence at the moment, her fearless attitude means she is a danger to anyone, even the world number 1.
This will be the first career meeting between Halep and Sabalenka. Clearly Halep is the far more established player, the world number 1 will head into this match as a strong favourite. However, Sabalenka is not to be dismissed. The Belarussian has a powerful game and she will look to ambush Halep in Shenzhen.