Garbine Muguruza vs Timea Bacsinszky, Beijing Final Preview

Beijing Final: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs (12) Timea Bacsinszky

Two of 2015’s biggest improvers will go head-to-head in the final of the China Open on Sunday evening when Garbine Muguruza meets Timea Bacsinszky. Both ladies will be aiming to claim the biggest titles of their careers, both will reach a new career high ranking next week regardless of the result of this match. Timea Bacsinszky is now just one win away from reaching the WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time in her career, Garbine already clinched her spot at the season finale for the first time in her career earlier this week. This promises to be a fascinating battle.

After a shocking North American summer, Garbine Muguruza has rebounded amazingly during the Asian Swing, reaching back-to-back finals in Wuhan and Beijing. The Spaniard’s form in Wuhan was much more convincing before she ultimately succumbed to fatigue in the final. Garbine has laboured through the majority of her matches in Beijing, she certainly isn't at her best physically.

Garbine booked her spot in the final with a gutsy 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. It was a bizarre match, Garbine seemed to be in pain and her movement was certainly hampered by injury, but Garbine’s powerful game was good enough to hit through Radwanska. It’s going to be a tough ask for Garbine to compete at a high level in the final on Sunday, she has played so much tennis in the last couple of weeks, being forced to retire during a final for a second week in a row seems like a real possibility.

 

Little was expected of Timea Bacsinszky this week in Beijing, However Timea has defied the odds to reach the biggest final of her career and move into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time. Timea is now just 1 win away from reaching her first WTA Finals campaign, which seemed highly unlikely given she arrived in Beijing on the back of 5 consecutive losses.

Timea’s route to the final hasn’t been easy, coming from a set down on 3 occasions, 4 of her 5 victories this week have been in 3 sets. Bacsinszky’s three latest victories in Beijing have all been extremely hard-fought, a 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro, a 0-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Sara Errani before recording a 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory over Ana Ivanovic to book her spot in the final. Timea’s ability to work things out on court when things are not going her way is second to none, she has once again proven that over the last couple of days.

 

Garbine Muguruza holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Timea Bacsinszky. Their most recent clash took place at the quarter-final stage of Wimbledon earlier this year, it was the Spaniard who emerged victorious with a 7-5 6-3 victory. Garbine’s other victory over Timea came at the Australian Open earlier this year, a topsy-turvy 3 set victory.

This is a really tough match to call, especially given Garbine’s injury concerns and Timea potentially suffering from fatigue after some gruelling matches. I like Timea’s chances in this one, the crafty Swiss player will make life extremely difficult for Garbine. The Spaniard will probably not be at her best, Timea is the type of opponent that will usually take full advantage of this. With a first ever appearance at the WTA Finals on the line, this is a massive opportunity for Bacsinszky, I think she will be smart enough to take full advantage.

Prediction: Timea Bacsinszky to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 3 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Agnieszka Radwanska, Beijing SF Preview

Beijing SF #1: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs (4) Agnieszka Radwanska

A blockbuster second semi-final of the day in Beijing sees Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska renew hostilities. Garbine and Aga are arguably two of the in-form players on the tour right now, Garbine if fresh off reaching the final in Wuhan whilst Radwanska won the title on Tokyo a couple of weeks ago. Both have continued their winning form in Beijing and both look set to reach the WTA Finals in Singapore (Muguruza has already qualified, Radwanska is just two wins away). Radwanska will enter this match with revenge on her mind having lost the last three matches between the pair.

Garbine Muguruza arrived in Beijing with little expectations after succumbing to fatigue in the final at the Wuhan Open last week. However, a favourable draw has seen Muguruza continue her winning form, recording victories over Irina Falconi, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Bethanie Mattek-Sands to advance to the semi-finals. Garbine has already secured her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time, a nice way for Garbine to end the best year of her career thus far.

 

Agnieszka Radwanska is playing some of her best tennis of the year at the moment. The former champion seems to be continuing her stunning form which saw her win the title in Tokyo without dropping a set. The Pole advanced to the semi-finals with an extremely impressive 6-1 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber, hitting just 4 unforced errors in the entire match in a near flawless performance. Aga now has a wonderful opportunity to claim another China Open title and secure her spot in Singapore earlier than expected.

Garbine Muguruza holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Aga, the Spaniard has won the last three meetings between the pair all of which have been in 2015. The most memorable of those matches came in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where Garbine won a tight three set match to reach her first Grand Slam final. I suspect Radwanska will avenge those losses on Saturday, Aga is playing great tennis at the moment and should be fresher and more motivated to win this one.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs Timea Bacsinszky, Beijing SF Preview

Beijing SF #2: (6) Ana Ivanovic vs (12) Timea Bacsinszky

Saturday’s first semi-final at the China Open in Beijing will see the 6th seeded Ana Ivanovic take on a rejuvenated Timea Bacsinszky. Not many could have predicted a semi-final between Ana and Timea, both have exceeded all expectations this week and now have a wonderful opportunity to reach the final. Both ladies must win this match to keep their slim hopes of reaching the WTA Finals alive, the winner of this match will move into the top 10 next week, which would be a the first time for Bacsinszky.

Ana Ivanovic has had a decent couple of weeks and says she is feeling as fit as she has felt all year. The Serb started the week with commanding straight set victories over Casey Dellacqua and Venus Williams before labouring to a three set victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Ana’s best performance of the week came in the quarte-finals where she played some stunning tennis on route to a 6-3 7-5 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Ana served well for the majority of the match and came up with some fantastic volleys at the net.

 

Timea Bacsinszky continues to defy the odds in 2015. Timea is now into her first every premier mandatory semi-final. The Swiss number 2 arrived in Beijing on the back of 5 consecutive losses but has turned her form slump around with a couple of trademark marathon victories. Timea’s last two matches in Beijing ended 7-5 in the third set, two extremely tough victories over Carla Suarez Navarro and Sara Errani. Timea will enter Saturday’s semi-final feeling like she has nothing to lose.

Ana Ivanovic has won the only two previous encounters between the pair, including a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Timea in Montreal last year in their most recent match. I suspect Ivanovic will once again get the better of Bacsinszky. The Serb’s game matches up pretty well against Timea, Ana can really over-power Timea and should be too strong for a potentially fatigued opponent on this occasion.

Prediction: Ana Ivanovic to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in 2 sets

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Garbine Muguruza, Beijing QF Preview

Beijing QF #1: (Q) Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs (5) Garbine Muguruza

Friday’s 4th and final quarter-final at the China sees American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands come up against last week’s Wuhan runner-up Garbine Muguruza. Bethanie Mattek-Sands has exceeded all expectations this week, reaching one of her biggest quarter-finals in recent memory. Garbine Muguruza is also having a good week, the Spaniard has secured her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time in her singles career.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands has had one of her best seasons in a while, especially at the Grand Slam level. The American is now on her greatest run at a WTA event this season, coming through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-final stage in Beijing. The American only just advanced through the qualifying draw, needing a third set tiebreaker to defeat Lucie Hradecka in the final round of qualifying. Bethanie has certainly gone on to make the most of her spot in the main draw.

 

Mattek-Sands has had a reasonably favourable draw, she has taken full advantage. The American started the week with a comfortable straight set victory over an out of form Alize Cornet. Bethanie secured her spot in the quarter-finals with three set victories over Lara Arruabarrena and Roberta Vinci. Bethanie’s 6-1 3-6 6-2 victory over U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci was particularly impressive, the American ending Roberta’s chances of an unlikely appearance at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Garbine Muguruza arrived in Beijing on the back of a solid week in Wuhan where she played some wonderful tennis before fatigue got the better of her in the final. Garbine Muguruza needed two victories in Beijing to secure her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore and she has done just that. The Spaniard started the week with a comprehensive 6-2 6-1 victory over Irina Falconi before recovering from a terribly sluggish start to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 1-6 6-2 6-1.  

 

This will be the first career meeting between Bethanie and Garbine, it promises to be an entertaining match. Now that Garbine has clinched her spot at the WTA Finals, it is not clear how motivated she will be to keep going in Beijing, especially given the amount of tennis she has recently played. The same cannot be said for Mattek-Sands, the American has everything to play for on Friday night and will enter this match willing to do anything to reach the semi-finals of such a big event. Therefore pocking a winning in this match isn’t as simple as it may seem.

I’m still going to stick with Garbine, she may even play with more freedom now that she feels she has nothing to lose which is certainly a dangerous prospect for Mattek-Sands. If Garbine turns up to play, she will win.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 2 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Beijing QF Preview

Beijing QF #3: (6) Ana Ivanovic vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Friday’s third quarter-final at the China Open sees the 6th seeded Ana Ivanovic come up against an in form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Ana Ivanovic has a dominant record against Pavlyuchenkova and will be confident she can continue her dominance over the Russian on Friday evening. However Pavlyuchenkova should see this as a great opportunity to record a victory over Ivanovic, the Russian enters this match in great form and full confidence.

Ana Ivanovic has certainly benefited from a favourable draw this week in Beijing, to the Serb’s credit she has taken full advantage. Ivanovic started the week with a comprehensive straight set victory over Casey Dellacqua before defeating a fatigued Venus Williams in straight sets. Ivanovic advanced to the quarter-final stage with an unconvincing 7-5 4-6 6-2 victory over a wayward Svetlana Kuznetsova. Ivanovic looked quite vulnerable, her serve was as wayward as ever, however Kuznetsova was unable to take advantage. Ana will need to significantly raise her level if she is to advance any further this week.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a disappointing season, however it looks like she will end the year on high. The Russian has played some great tennis to reach the final 8, recording a straight set victory over Julia Goerges in the first round before battling past Elina Svitolina in an extremely hard-fought three set encoutner. Pavlyuchenkova booked her spot in the quarter-finals by handing Flavia Pennetta her first defeat since she captured he first career Grand Slam title in New York. Pavlyuchenkova fought from a set down to record a 3-6 6-4 6-3 victory.

 

Ana Ivanovic holds a dominant 6-1 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova. Ivanovic won the first 6 meetings between the pair including 4 straight set victories on a hard court. It was Pavlyuchenkova who emerged victorious in their most recent encounter, the Russian led 7-5 6-5 before Ivanovic bizarrely retired despite being just one game away from defeat.  

Despite the lopsided head-to-head record between the pair, I think Pavlyuchenkova can cause an upset here. The Russian’s form has been very good heading into this match and she is certainly capable of hurting Ivanovic, especially the Serb’s wayward and predictable serve. Ivanovic has had some injury concerns lately, so knowing her another retirement could be on the cards.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Ana Ivanovic in 2 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Angelique Kerber, Beijing QF Preview

Beijing QF #2: (4) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (10) Angelique Kerber

A blockbuster quarter-final match-up at the China Open on Friday sees former champion Agnieszka Radwanska come up against Angelique Kerber. This promises to be a fascinating encounter, these two played out arguably the best match of the year thus far in Stanford a couple of months ago. Aga and Angie are both fighting for one of the remaining sports at the WTA Finals in Singapore, both ladies look almost certain to make it from here after achieving good results during the Asian swing.

Agnieszka Radwanska is arguably in the best form she has been in all year. The Pole played some amazing tennis on route to the title in Tokyo where she defeated several quality opponents without dropping a set. Radwanska has benefited from two retirements this week, against CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys, on both occasions Radwanska won the first set 6-3 before her opponent retired with an injury. Radwanska’s greatest test came in the second round where she was forced to come from a set down to defeat the always dangerous Mona Barthel 4-6 6-1 6-4. Radwanska is currently ranked 8th in the live race to Singapore standings and can confirm her position in her 5th consecutive season ending championships by winning the title in Beijing.

 

Angelique Kerber also enters this quarter-final match in solid form. The German reached the quarter-finals in Toyo and the semi-finals in Wuhan before arriving in Beijing. Angie is now 6th in the live race to Singapore standing and looks to have all but confirmed her place at another season ending championships.

Angie has recorded two comprehensive victories over high quality opponents to advance to the quarter-final stage in Beijing. Angie received a performance bye into the second round where she thumped Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-4 in a surprisingly straightforward match for the German. Angie backed up that performance with another surprisingly straightforward victory, defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-3 in a dominant display.

 

Aga and Angie have built up one of the most even and competitive rivalries on tour, the head-to-head record between the pair is currently split at 5 wins apiece. Kerber has had the wood over Radwanska in recent times, winning 3 of the last 4 encounters between the pair. Their most recent match was an epic, many considering it the best of the season thus far. It was Kerber who prevailed 4-6 6-4 6-4 on route to the title in Stanford.

This promises to be another extremely close match between two very evenly matched players. Both ladies enter this match in great form, both are such great movers and give very little away, which means it’s tough to find ways to win points in this match-up. I give Radwanska the slight edge because of her great variety, most notably her superior ability when coming forward to the net, a valuable asset in a match-up like this.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets

Timea Bacsinszky vs Sara Errani, Beijing QF Preview

Beijing QF #4: (12) Timea Bacsinszky vs Sara Errani

An unexpected quarter-final match-up at the China Open sees Timea Bacsinszky come up against Sara Errani. Little was expected of Timea Bacsinszky in her first tournament since the U.S Open, Timea arrived in Beijing on the back of 5 consecutive losses. Sara Errani has also defied the odds this week, recording three upset victories in a row to advance to the quarter-final stage.

Timea Bacsinszky has rediscovered some of her early season form this week in Beijing, as a result Timea is still an outside chance to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Timea is currently ranked 14th in the live race standings and will need another couple of victories to keep her chances alive.

 

Timea started the week by coming from a set down to defeat Camila Giorgi 1-6 6-4 6-3 before defeating Mariana Duque-Marino 7-5 6-2. Timea’s biggest test came in the third round where she faced fellow Singapore hopeful Carla Suarez Navarro. It was an extremely tight match, a very tactical battle full of long rallies, it was Bacsinszky who untimely prevailed 6-4 4-6 7-5. Timea will fancy her chances in the next round when she comes up against an opponent she has a winning record against.

Sara Errani has now reached the quarter-final of every premier mandatory event in season 2015, an impressive achievement considering the Italian hasn’t had her greatest season. Errani has been at her gritty best this week in Beijing, starting the week with a big 7-5 6-4 upset victory over Petra Kvitova. The Italian has backed up that stunning performance with trademark three set victories over Caroline Garcia and Andrea Petkovic. Errani’s consistent play ultimately broke the spirits of both Garcia and Petkovic.

 

Timea Bacsinszky holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Errani. The most recent encounter between the pair took place earlier this year in Monterrey, it was Bacsinszky who emerged victorious with an extremely hard-fought 6-0 4-6 7-6 victory on route to the title.

This looks like a really even match-up, both ladies rely on unsettling their opponents with smart consistent play. Therefore another tough, long battle is to be expected here. I give the edge to Errani, the Italian has played some great tennis this week against high quality opponents whilst Timea’s form is questionable considering her victories came against opponents who are not playing great tennis.

Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in 3 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova, Beijing R3 Preview

Beijing R3: (6) Ana Ivanovic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova

Ana Ivanovic will be looking for her 5th consecutive victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova when the two go head-to-head in the third round at the China Open on Thursday. Ana Ivanovic will enter her third round clash with Kuznetsova aiming to win three consecutive matches for the first time since her run to the semi-finals at Roland Garros earlier this year, whilst Svetlana Kuznetsova will be aiming to win three consecutive matches for the first time since Madrid.

Ana Ivanovic has made a reasonably positive start to her China Open campaign, recoding straight set victories over Casey Dellacqua and Venus Williams. The Serb started the week with a comfortable 6-4 6-0 victory over Casey Dellacqua, winning the last 10 games of the match to cruise into the next round. Ana’s second round victory was quite impressive, overcoming a terrible head-to-head record against Venus Williams to record a 7-6 6-2 victory over the American.

 

Svetlana Kuznetsova has also been in reasonable form in Beijing. The Russian started her week with a solid 6-4 6-4 victory over Carina Witthoeft. Svetlana booked her spot in the third round by coming from a set down to defeat Sloane Stephens 3-6 6-3 6-4. Svetlana will need to overcome a terrible recent head-to-head record against Ivanovic if she is to advance any further this week in Beijing.

Ana Ivanovic holds a dominant 10-3 head-to-head record over Svetlana Kuznetsova and has won the 4 most recent encounters between the pair. This will be the first meeting between the pair in 2015, the two met twice in season 2014 with Ana Ivanovic prevailing in three sets on both occasions. The matches almost finished with the exact same score, a 6-3 2-6 6-4 victory for Ana in Stuttgart before claiming a 6-2 2-6 6-3 win in Montreal.

I suspect Ivanovic will win this one a little more comfortably, the quick conditions in Beijing don’t really play into the hands of Kuznetsova who has recently struggled against higher ranked players. Ivanovic is in good form this week and will be quite confident after a rare victory over Venus Williams.

Prediction: Ana Ivanovic to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2 sets

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Roberta Vinci, Beijing R3 Preview

Beijing R3: (Q) Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs (15) Roberta Vinci

An intriguing third round clash at the China Open on Thursday sees two rejuvenated veterans of the tour go head-to-head: Bethanie Mattek Sands and U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci. Bethanie and Roberta are both playing some of their best tennis at the moment, a significant achievement considering they are both in their 30’s. Both ladies will see this match as a major opportunity to keep their winning momentum going as a long season comes to an end.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands has won 6 of her last 7 matches and has picked up notable victories over Ana Ivanovic, CoCo Vandeweghe and Alize Cornet in the last couple of months. The American was forced to fight for her main draw position through the qualifying draw, Bethanie just snuck through, defeating Lucie Hradecka in a tight final set tiebreaker to advance to the main draw. The American secured her spot in the third round at the China Open with victories over Alize Cornet and Lara Arruabarrena, the score in Bethanie’s second round win over Arruabarrena was bizarre, a 0-6 6-2 6-0 victory for Mattek-Sands.

 

Roberta Vinci has continued her stunning form which saw reach her first Grand Slam in New York last month. The Italian has now won 16 of her last 19 matches, including her run to the U.S Open final where she defeated Serena Williams and a semi-final showing last week in Wuhan where the Italian picked up notable victories over Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova. Vinci still has a slim chance to qualify for the WTA Finals, she will need a victory here to keep her chances alive. After receiving a performance bye through to the second round, Roberta Vinci started her China Open campaign with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 victory over Alison Van Uytvank. The draw has been very kind to the Italian in Beijing.

Roberta Vinci holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Roberta has won the three most recent encounters between the pair including a 6-4 5-7 6-3 win in their most recent encounter which took place in Toronto two years ago.

This is an exciting match-up between two ladies with unconventional and quite contrasting styles. Roberta Vinci’s recent form has been outstanding but I feel like she is due for an unexpected loss, this looms as a potential danger match for the Italian. Mattek-Sands is capable of playing excellent tennis and I don’t think she will be too worried or thrown off by the Italian’s game.

Prediction: Bethanie Mattek-Sands to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs Venus Williams, Beijing R2 Preview

Beijing R2: (6) Ana Ivanovic vs Venus Williams

Tuesday’s blockbuster match-up at the China Open sees last week’s Wuhan Open champion Venus Williams take on the sixth seeded Ana Ivanovic. Venus Williams has a wonderful record over Ana Ivanovic, the American all of a sudden has a very realistic chance to reach the WTA Finals in Singapore, which would be a remarkable achievement for Venus at this stage of her career.

Ana Ivanovic’s lacklustre form has continued during the Asian swing, failing to advance past the quarter-final stage in Tokyo and Wuhan. Ivanovic arrives in Beijing on the back of a third round showing at the Wuhan Open last week. The Serb strolled through her first round matches with easy straight set victories over Alexandra Dulgheru and Madison Brengle. The Serb’s campaign was cut short by Garbine Muguruza, Ana lost 12 of the last 13 games as she was blown off the court by the eventual finalist.

 

Ana Ivanovic would need a miracle to qualify for Singapore but is a good chance to qualify for Zhuhai with a couple of victories in Beijing. The Serb advanced to the second round in Beijing with a comfortable 6-4 6-0 victory over Casey Dellacqua, winning the last 10 games of the match.

Venus Williams arrives in Beijing full of confidence after winning the Wuhan Open last week. Venus had a wonderful week, picking up commanding straight set victories over Agnieszka Radwanska, Julia Goerges and Carla Suarez Navarro before recording hard-fought three set victories over Johanna Konta and Robert Vinci. Venus won the title in an unfortunate fashion as Garbine retired a set down in the final. Venus also had her injury concerns towards the end of the tournament, the American really struggled towards the end of her last couple of matches but managed to push through the pain and eventually claimed one of her biggest title in years.

 

Venus Williams holds a commanding 9-2 head-to-head record over Ana Ivanovic. The American thumped Ana 6-2 6-1 in Dubai last year in what was their most recent encounter. This has typically been a very good match-up for Venus, the American is able to match Ana from the baseline and has been able to dismantle the Serb’s wayward serve. Despite the head-to-head record, I think this is a very even match-up. I have a feeling Ivanovic will get some revenge on Venus on Tuesday evening, it will be tough for Venus to rebound for such a tough week with a very tough first round encounter in Beijing.

Prediction: Ana Ivanovic to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets