Sabine Lisicki vs Barbora Strycova, Toronto R2 Preview

Toronto R2: Sabine Lisicki vs Barbora Strycova

Sabine Lisicki will come up against Barbora Strycova on Wednesday in Toronto, a fascinating second round matchup between two contrasting styles.

Sabine Lisicki booked her spot in the second round with a crushing 6-0 6-3 victory over Venus Williams. The German made a horror start to her U.S Open series in Stanford where she blew a 6-1 3-1 lead against Kimiko Date-Krumm. Sabine had no such problems in her opening round match in Toronto, Sabine was solid from start to finish, serving well and punishing the American’s weak second serve. It’s important for Sabine to back up her first round performance on Wednesday when she comes up against Barbora Strycova.

 

Barbora Strycova also made an impressive start to her Rogers Cup campaign. Strycova comprehensively defeated Varvara Lepchenko 6-2 6-4. A solid result given the American played great tennis last week where she reached the semi-finals in Stanford.

Strycova won the only previous encounter between the pair, a hard fought 7-5 6-4 victory in Doha earlier this year. This is a tough match to call, Strycova has an awkward game which can easily disrupt the German, however Sabine does have the game to blow Strycova off the court. I think Strycova will be clever enough to prevail in this one.

Prediction: Barbora Strycova to defeat Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets

Barbora Strycova vs Sloane Stephens, Wimbledon R1 Preview

(27) Barbora Strycova vs Sloane Stephens

An intriguing first round matchup sees two former quarter-finalists go head to head, 2014 quarterfinalist: Barbora Strycova and 2013 quarter-finalist: Sloane Stephens. This is a very unfortunate first round matchup for these two, a first round loss would be extremely disappointing for both.

Barbora Strycova had a breakout year in 2014, however she has failed to maintain that form in season 2015. Strycova has suffered numerous opening round losses this year, including at Roland Garros. The Czech will be hoping for a reversal of form on grass, a surface her game is well suited to.

Strycova achieved her greatest ever Grand Slam result at Wimbledon last year, defeating Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki on route to her first Grand Slam quarter-final where she was defeated by eventual champion: Petra Kvitova.

 

Strycova’s lead up to Wimbledon has been less than ideal, however she has got a fair few matches under her belt on the grass. Strycova reached the third round in Birmingham before succumbing to Kristina Mladenovic and suffered a disappointing second round loss in Eastbourne, upset by Sara Errani in an extremely tight match.

Sloane Stephens’ lead up to Wimbledon has been far greater. The American reached her first premier level semifinal of the year in Eastbourne, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro and Heather Watson in straight sets on route to the final four. Sloane was eliminated at the semifinal stage by Agnieszka Radwanska, however there were still a number of positives to take out that match for Sloane, she competed well and was able to raise her level throughout the match but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Sloane’s results haven’t been the best this year, however a lot of that can be attributed to the tough draws she has been dealt. Stephens has twice been beaten by Serena Williams, and has suffered losses to Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep, all in big events. Stephens has generally beaten the players ranked around her.

 

These two have met on two previous occasions, the head to head record is currently split at one win apiece. It was Sloane Stephens who emerged victorious in their only recent encounter, prevailing 7-5 6-1 in Cincinnati last year.

Sloane Stephens will enter this match as the favourite given her recent form, the American consistently performs well at the Grand Slam level and will be desperate to avoid a second opening round loss at a Grand Slam this year. Sloane’s extra firepower and greater form will give her the edge in this one.

Prediction: Sloane Stephens to defeat Barbora Strycova in 3 sets

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs Andrea Petkovic, Antwerp SF Preview

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs (3) Andrea Petkovic

Saturday’s second semifinal in Antwerp sees surprise semifinalist: Barbora Zahlavova Strycova take on Andrea Petkovic for a spot in sundays final at the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games.

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova has sailed through the draw in Antwerp, winning all three of her matches in straight sets. Strycova has dropped just 14 games in 6 sets and will come into this semi-final full of confidence. Strycova dismantled a wayward Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2 in the second round before thumping Mona Barthel 6-2 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

The slow indoor conditions seem to be playing into the hands of the crafty Czech, who will certainly fancy her chances on Saturday when she comes up against Andrea Petkovic.

 

Andrea Petkovic’s stunning form continued on Friday as she defeated Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 6-0. After saving eight match points in her second round victory over Alison Van Uytvanck, the German really has nothing to lose. Petkovic made the most of her second chance with a solid victory over Domi.

Petkovic squandered eight set points in the opening set before finally closing out the set in a first set tiebreaker. Domi then called a medical timeout at the end of the opening set to have her ankle strapped, the Slovak never recovered. Domi’s movement was clearly hampered in the second set as her resistance wavered, Petko took full advantage to cruise into the semifinals.

 

Petko has a 2-1 head to head record over Strycova. The German has won their two most recent encounters, both in straight sets. Their last meeting took place in Linz back in 2012, Petkovic prevailing 7-6 6-2.

Petkovic has had an incredible week, two marathon victories in the Fed Cup and now reaching the semifinals in Antwerp. Petko showed no signs of fatigue in her victory over Domi however Strycova is bound to be the fresher of the two and that could be the biggest difference in such a close matchup. Strycova has played so well this week and I fancy she will continue her good run on Saturday with a hard fought victory over the German.

Prediction: Barbora Strycova to defeat Andrea Petkovic in 3 sets

2015 Australian Open: Top 10 Matches

10. Third Round: Madison Keys def. (4) Petra Kvitova 6-4 7-5

A much anticipated breakthrough victory for Madison Keys. Showing maturity and composure beyond her years to defeat Petra Kvitova in two tight sets.

9. Third Round: Victoria Azarenka def. (25) Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4 6-4

This match wasn't high in quality however it was high in entertainment and drama.

8. Third Round: (18) Venus Williams def. Camila Giorgi 4-6 7-6 6-1

Venus Williams produced a stunning fightback from a set and a break down to defeat Giorgi in an entertaining slugfest.

7. Second Round: Victoria Azarenka def. (8) Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-2

This match was much closer than the scoreline suggests. Vika's performance in this match was awesome, she played her best tennis in over a year to condemn Caroline to a second round exit.

6. Fourth Round: (1) Serena Williams def. (24) Garbine Muguruza 2-6 6-3 6-2

A feisty encounter ending with revenge . Serena avenging her humiliating second round defeat to Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros in 2014 with an extremely hard fought victory on Rod Laver Arena.

5. First Round: Yaroslava Shvedova def. (16) Lucie Safarova 6-4 2-6 8-6

Out on show Court 3, a select few were treated to an enthralling contest. Shvedova played incredibly well to upset an in form Lucie Safarova in the opening round of the tournament.

4. First Round: (Q) Lucie Hradecka def. (5) Ana Ivanovic 1-6 6-3 6-2

This was the upset of the tournament. Ana Ivanovic knocked out of the tournament in the first round by a journeywoman qualifier on Rod Laver Arena.

Ana Ivanovic vs Lucie Hradecka Australian Open... by mglovestennis

3. Second Round: (2) Maria Sharapova def. (Q) Alexandra Panova 6-1 4-6 7-5

we almost saw the upset of the tournament here, the unheralded russian qualifier had two match points to defeat the Russian megastar. Maria came up with some outrageous play when down match point to fight her way to victory.

2. Final: (1) Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova 6-3 7-6

The second set in this match was the best set of the tournament. The set was played at an incredible intensity, a level that can only be achieved when these two ultimate competitors do battle.

Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova Australian... by mglovestennis

1. Fourth round: (11) Dominika Cibulkova def. Victoria Azarenka 6-2 3-6 6-3

In terms of sustained quality, this was the best match of tournament. These two warriors went toe to toe from the baseline, the majority of the rallies ended in winners. Domi finished the match with 44 winners in what was a truly fantastic performance.

Agree? Disagree? What was your favaourite match of the tournament? Let me know in the comments section 🙂

Victoria Azarenka vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Australian Open R3 Preview

Victoria Azarenka vs (25) Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

After a stunning victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, Vika faces Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round.

Vika produced her best performance in the last 12 months to comprehensively defeat Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-2. Vika was in control of play from start to finish, dictating play from the centre of the court, pushing Wozniacki back behind the baseline.
Wozniacki didn't play poorly, Vika was just too good. The belarusian denied Wozniacki time, putting the Dane in uncomfortable positions. It's great to see Vika back playing well, it is clear that she is serious contender in Melbourne this year.

 

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova survived a slight scare in her 6-1 7-5 second round victory over Kai-Chen Chang. Strycova cruised through the opening set however as the match progressed conditions deteriorated at Melbourne Park.

Strycova became extremely frustrated late in the second, as Chang started to raise her level and heavy winds swept across Melbourne Park. Strycova eventually regained her composure to sneak through in straight sets.

 

Azarenka has a perfect 3-0 head to head record over Strycova. Vika won all three matches comfortably in straight sets. There most recent encounter was last year at the Australian Open, Vika was untroubled in straight sets victory.

Vika's first two performances this week have been extremely impressive. She should be too good for Strycova, a straight sets win seems likely.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets

Sam Stosur vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Sydney R2 Preview

Sam Stosur vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

Sam Stosur will be looking to build on her impressive victory over Lucie Safarova when she takes on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the second round at the Sydney International on Tuesday.

Sam Stosur rebounded from her extremely disappointing first round loss to Varvara Lepchenko in Brisbane with a gutsy three set win over Lucie Safarova. Stosur received a lot of criticism this week after losing to Lepchenko despite leading 5-1 40-30 during the deciding set. Stosur responded with a passionate performance to beat Safarova 7-6 5-7 6-3 in difficult conditions.

Stosur served very well throughout the match, more importantly she served well under pressure. Stosur found herself down 0-40 in the fifth game of the third set, but managed to win five straight points to conjure up a critical service hold. Sam confidently served out the match, a good sign after her capitulation against Lepchenko.

 

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova had a solid run to the Semi-Finals in Auckland, eventually succumbing to Caroline Wozniacki in three sets. The two met once again in the opening round in Sydney, Wozniacki was forced to retire due to a wrist injury, handing Strycova a second round showdown with Sam Stosur.

 

Surprisingly, this will be the first career meeting between the two. This promises to be a fascinating encounter, it will be interesting to see how Strycova deals with Stosur's serve. Stosur should be full of confidence after her win over Lucie, I think she should be able to overpower Strycova and win relatively comfortably.

Prediction: Sam Stosur to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets

Apia International Sydney Preview

The Apia Sydney International has once again attracted a stellar lineup as final preparations are made for next week's Australian Open. Six of the world's top 10 players will compete in Sydney this week (Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Ekaterina Makarova). Whilst some of week ones most in form players: Lucie Safarova, Alize Cornet and Elina Svitolina will be looking to continue their strong start to the season in Sydney.

Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly, defending champion Tsvetana Pironkova has not been granted a MD WC and will instead need to navigate her way through qualifiers. Hopefully the Bulgarian will qualify for the main draw, it would be a shame if the shock 2014 champion doesn't get an opportunity to defend her title.

 

The draw has thrown up some extremely exciting first round matches including: CSN vs Sabine, Svitolina vs Makarova, Aga vs Cornet, Muguruza vs Errani, Safarova vs Stosur and Wozniacki vs Strycova.. wow. An incredible first round lineup.

At the top of the draw lies top seed Simona Halep who will receive a bye into the second round. After an impressive week in Shenzhen, the Romanian will open her Sydney campaign against either Karolina Pliskova or a qualifier.

 

The other seed in the first quarter is sixth seed Ekaterina Makarova who will open her 2015 season against Brisbane International semi-finalist Elina Svitolina. An extremely tough opening match for Makarova, Svitolina played incredibly well in Brisbane where she defeated Angelique Kerber on route to the Semi-Finals before falling to a red-hot Sharapova . The winner of that match will face either Sabine Lisicki or Carla Suarez Navarro. An extremely tough section of the draw..

1st Round Match Predictions: Sabine Lisicki to defeat CSN in 3 sets, Elina Svitolina to defeat Ekaterina Makarova in 3 sets

 

The second quarter is headlined by third seed and 2013 champion Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole will face Alize Cornet in the biggest of the first round matches. The two met at the Hopman Cup this week and played out an epic three set match which Cornet eventually won 7-5. Aga will be looking to avenge that loss in Sydney, where she will be joined by Martina Navratilova for the first time in her coaching box.

 

The winner of the Aga-Cornet match will face either Garbine Muguruza or Sara Errani in the second round. Fifth seed Angelique Kerber faces a qualifier in the opening round before a potential match up with Belinda Bencic. Another extremely difficult section of the draw which is sure to produce some stunning matches.

1st Round Match Predictions: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Alize Cornet in 2 sets, Garbine Muguruza to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets, Belinda Bencic to defeat Daria Gavrilova in 2 sets

The third quarter of the draw is headlined by fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki, after a great week in Auckland the Dane arrives in Sydney full of confidence, with her eyes fixed on a first GS title in Melbourne. Wozniacki will face Strycova in the first round, a repeat of their Auckland semi-final. The winner will face either Lucie Safarova or Sam Stosur in the second round. Safarova showed great signs in Perth, coming agonisingly close to her first career victory over Serena Williams. I expect Lucie to have a good week in Sydney.

 

Also in this section is eighth seed Flavia Pennetta, the Italian will face a qualifier in the opening round before a potential second round match with either Madison Keys or Svetlana Kuznetsova. Keys suffered a disappointing loss to Varvara Lepchenko in Brisbane and will need a couple of wins here if she is to be prepared for Melbourne.

1st Round Match Predictions: Madison Keys to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2 sets, Lucie Safarova to defeat Sam Stosur in 3 sets, Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Barbora Strycova in 2 sets

The final section of the draw is headlined by second seed Petra Kvitova. Kvitova suffered a disappointing semi-final loss to Timea Bacsinszky in Shenzhen and will look to rebound in Sydney. The Czech will receive a bye into the second round where she will meet either Peng Shuai or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

 

Former finalist and Seventh seed Dominika Cibulkova will desperately be seeking a couple of victories in Sydney after a tough first up loss to Madison Keys In Brisbane. Domi will face a qualifier in the opening round before a potential second round match Against Andrea Petkovic or Jarmila Gajdosova.

1st Round Match Predictions: Andrea Petkovic to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova in 3 sets, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Peng Shuai in 3 sets

Champion Prediction: Petra Kvitova

It's extremely hard to predict an eventual champion in this stacked field however Petra does stand out as the favourite. Despite a disappointing loss to Timea Bacsinszky in Shenzhen, Petra showed good signs in previous matches and will have extra time to prepare for Sydney. The extra time she will have compared to Halep, Wozniacki and Radwanska could be vital. Plus she obviously has the ability to dominate any one of her main rivals in Sydney

Who do you think will reign supreme in Sydney? Favourite first round match? Leave a comment a below 🙂

WTA Generali Ladies Linz Tournament Preview

With the main legs of the Asian swing now over, a number of the stars of the WTA head of to Linz, Austria for an International level indoor event. Given this is an international level event; the field is very impressive, as it always is.

The top seven ranked players in Linz are all ranked inside the top 30, with a couple of players vying for the finals few spots in Sofia and also for the alternate spots in Singapore. One such player is wild card Sabine Lisicki who is looking to overtake Garbine Muguruza in the race to Sofia. A strong showing from Dominika Cibulkova will give her a chance to fly to Singapore as an alternate. Given a number of players that have already qualified for Singapore are struggling with injury (Serena Williams and Simona Halep), Cibulkova may well be called upon. Last years defending champion Angelique Kerber will not be in action this week, however former champion and last year’s finalist Ana Ivanovic will feature in Linz alongside fellow Singapore contender Eugenie Bouchard.

The Contenders:

(1) Eugenie Bouchard

The Canadian will be the headline act this week in Linz where she will be looking to gain some momentum heading into her first ever WTA finals showing in Singapore in a couple of weeks. After a disappointing North American hard court season, Bouchard turned things around in Wuhan where she reached the final before eventually falling to Petra Kvitova in straight sets. Bouchard is however coming off a disappointing first up loss to Lisicki in Beijing. It is important that Genie has at least a couple of weeks this week in Linz to gain some momentum heading into Singapore.

Bouchard faces wildcard Mayr-Achleitner in the opening round before a potential second round meeting with Tsventana Pironkova. Bouchard is the in the same quarter as Sabine Lisicki, I’m sure Bouchard would love another shot at the German.

 

(2) Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic arrives in Linz on the back of a semi-final showing in Beijing. Ivanovic has won more matches than any other player this year and will be looking for a strong finish to the year at Linz and more importantly at the upcoming WTA finals in Singapore. If Ivanovic reaches the quarter-finals in Linz, she will pass Agnieszka Radwanska in the rankings and move to 6th.

On paper, Ana’s half of the draw certainly looks favorable. Ana will play Pauline Parmentier in the opening round and is then projected to meet an in form Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals (wouldn't that be a great match). Pliskova upset Ana Ivanovic In their only previous meeting at this years U.S Open.

 

(3) Dominika Cibulkova

After such a positive start to the season where the Slovakian reached her first Grand Slam final, Cibulkova’s season has derailed towards the end of the year. Since Wimbledon Domi has a 3-7 record and was forced to withdraw in Wuhan and Beijing due to injury. Cibulkova will be looking to turn things around in a bid to claim one of two alternate positions in Singapore. Given the growing injury concerns surrounding Serena Williams, Cibulkova’s dream of playing in Singapore may well come true.

Dominika Cibulkova looks to have a strong shot at the reaching the semi-finals in Linz. The Slovakian will face a qualifier in the opening round before playing either Anna Schmiedlova or Jana Cepelova in the second round. Domi should come out on top against either opponent. Cibulkova is in the same quarter as Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who she has never faced before.

 

(5) Sabine Lisicki

The German was granted a wild card into the event, hoping to amass enough points to reach the Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Heading into Wimbledon Lisicki was 8-11 since then she has an 18-8 record including a title in Hong Kong and impressive wins over Bouchard, Safarova and Ivanovic.

Sabine finds herself in arguably the toughest quarter of the draw alongside Eugenie Boucahrd. Sabine faces the always-dangerous Karin Knapp in what should be an interesting opening round match. Lisicki could then face either Kaia Kanepi or Magdalena Rybarikova n the second round.

 

(7) Karolina Pliskova

Last year, alongside sister Kristyna, the Pliskova’s won their first doubles title in Linz. They became the first pair of twins to win a doubles title together. Despite heading to Linz on the back of a disappointing first round loss to Hercog, Pliskova heads to Linz full of confidence after a final appearance in Hong Kong and a title in Seoul.

Karolina Pliskova has been dealt a fairly tricky first round opponent, the inform Czech will face Kirsten Flipkens. Flipkens has won their last two encounters, both this year and both in straight sets. If Pliskova can turn that head to head record around she could face Mona Barthel in the second round before a potential clash with Ana Ivanovic In the quarter-finals.

Victoria Azarenka vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova Preview & Prediction – W&S Open First Round

(10) Victoria Azarenka vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova

Defending Champion Victoria Azarenka returns to Cincinnati to defend her title a shadow of her former self. The Belarusian has bounced in and out of the top 10 in last few weeks as she continues to struggle with injury. In Montreal, Vika’s right leg has heavily strapped, she grimaced with pain throughout her 6-2 6-2 quarter-final loss to Agnieszka Radwanska. Vika is fighter; it looks like she will soldier on despite her injury woes, she has been seen practicing with her knee still heavily strapped in Cincinnati.

Her opponent on Tuesday, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was also knocked out of the Rogers Cup by Agnieszka Radwanska. Strycova went down 4-6 4-6 in her second round match. Strycova had a breakthrough tournament at Wimbledon, reaching the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time. It will be interesting to see if Barbora can build on her recent success during the reaming months.

Barbora has a 0-3 record against Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian has thumped Barbora in all three of their previous encounters. Their most recent meeting was at this years Australian Open, Vika won comfortably: 6-1 6-4. Despite her injury woes I believe Vika will still come through this match victorious. Vika showed in Montreal and Stanford that she is still able to fight and compete and come through these types of matches.

Prediction: (10) Victoria Azarenka to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets

2014 Rogers Cup – Day 2 – 2nd Round Match Previews/Predictions

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova

Agnieszka Radwanska will be desperate to reverse her recent form slum in Montreal; she will begin her campaign on Tuesday when she takes on Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the second round. Aga suffered one of her worst loses in recent times last week, going down to Varvara Lepchenko in three sets. The manner in which she lost was quite shocking, Aga hit a whopping 42 unforced errors and was a shadow of her usual crafty self. If the Pole can’t quickly turn things around she will fall outside the top 5 for the firs time in years. The pole has suffered a number of shocking, uncharacteristic loses this season including her straight sets loss to Makarova at Wimbledon, a straight sets loss to Domi in Melbourne and a straight set loss to Flavia at Indian Wells (yes, she was injured).

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova had a great grass court season, reaching the final in Birmingham and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. The Czech had a positive start to her North American hard court swing on Monday, defeating Roberta Vinci in straight sets 7-5 -7-5.

Aga has won all three of the previous meetings between the two. All three victories were comprehensive straight set wins, however they haven’t played for just over three years. This is a potentially tricky opening round match for Aga but I just can’t see her losing three matches in a row. Aga has been practicing well in Montreal and looks to be in good spirits despite her recent poor performances

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in straight sets

(8) Victoria Azarenka vs Alize Cornet

The match of the day sees Victoria Azarenka take on Alize Cornet. Vika is yet to return to the top of her game since returning from injury. Since her return, Vika has won just 1 of her 5 matches. Vika was certainly far from her best last week in Stanford, going down to Venus Williams in two tight sets. Alize Cornet also comes into this match with recent poor form. Coming into this event Alize lost three straight matches, including two first round loses in Bastad and Washington D.C. Alize broke her run of three straight loses with a straight sets victory over Lauren Dais in her opening round match in Montreal.

Vika has a perfect 3-0 record against Alize Cornet. However their previous 2 meetings which both took place last season, went the distance. Both ladies are known for their fighting qualities and never say die attitudes, this certainly promises to be an entertaining match. I believe Vika will start to turn things around in Montreal, starting with a hard fought victory over Cornet.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Alize Cornet in three sets

Other Match Predictions:

(5) Eugenie Bouchard to defeat (Q) Shelby Rogers in straight sets