Simona Halep vs Daria Kasatkina, Roland Garros R3 Preview

Roland Garros, 🇫🇷🐌 R3 Preview + Prediction
(3) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs (26) 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Tournament favourite Simona Halep will face her first big test of the event when she comes up against talented young Russian Daria Kasatkina in the third round on Saturday in Paris. Simona Halep had some injury concerns surrounding her Roland Garros campaign but has looked comfortable enough early in the tournament as she has cruised through her opening few matches. Daria Kasatkina also had some injury concerns heading into the event after being forced to retire injured in Rome. Kasatkina has had to work slightly harder for her first two wins but has still come through her first few matches in straight sets to set up a clash with Halep.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Daria Kasatkina, Dubai R1 Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview:
🇩🇰 (10) Caroline Wozniacki vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

An exciting opening round clash in Dubai features last week’s Doha finalist Caroline Wozniacki up against the rising Daria Kasatkina, the first career meeting between the pair. Wozniacki will arrive in Dubai with winning form on her side after reaching the Doha final but will only have a few days to adjust to the conditions. Kasatkina also had a good week in Doha, defeating the top seeded Angelique Kerber on route to the final 8. This should be a great match between two in form players, expect to see a lot of long rallies in this one! 

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Daria Kasatkina vs Johanna Konta, Sydney QF Preview

Apia International, Sydney Quarter-Final #1
Daria Kasatkina vs (6) Johanna Konta

Daria Kasatkina and Johanna Konta will meet for the first occasion on Wednesday when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the Apia International in Sydney. Kasatkina and Konta both rocketed up the rankings in 2017 and will both enter this clash full of confidence after meaningful straight set victories on Tuesday.

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Angelique Kerber vs Daria Kasatkina, Sydney R2 Preview

Apia International, Sydney R2 Preview
(1) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber begins her Apia International campaign on Tuesday with a tricky second round clash against Daria Kasatkina. The top seeded German received a bye into the second round having arrived in Sydney on the back of a disappointing quarter-final loss to Elina Svitolina in Brisbane. It is important for Kerber to get wins under her belt this week in Sydney as she aims to be as prepared as possible to defend her title at Melbourne Park next week.

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Garbine Muguruza vs Daria Kasatkina, Brisbane R2 Preview

Brisbane International R2: 🐨
(5) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Tuesday night on Pat Rafter Arena features a blockbuster second round clash between Garbine Muguruza and Daria Kasatkina at the Brisbane International. Muguruza came through an extremely tight opening round match with Sam Stosur, saving two match points on route to victory. The Spaniard will be hoping for a more conventional victory on Tuesday night, but Kasatkina is one of the tour’s most exciting young prospects and will provide good resistance.

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2016 Rio Olympic Games, Quarter-final match Previews

QF #1: (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina vs (11) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova

Elina Svitolina caused the biggest upset of the tournament on Tuesday evening when she eliminated the tournament favourite Serena Williams with a 6-4 6-3 victory. The Ukrainian’s win over Serena was arguably the biggest win of her career but she will have little time to celebrate as she will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a clash with Petra Kvitova.

Petra Kvitova looked down and out in her third round clash with Ekaterina Makarova, the Czech managed to fight from a set and a break down to record a memorable 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory.

 

Kvitova holds a 2-1 head to-head record over Svitolina. The Czech has won the two most recent matches between the pair: a 6-3 7-5 win in Wuhan in 2014 and a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win in Dubai last year.

I suspect Kvitova will once again get the better of Svitolina on this occasion. The match is almost totally on Petra’s racquet, now that the draw has opened up and at this stage of the event I think Petra will be motivated to perform well and therefore should overpower Svitolina here. Petra is very experienced at representing her country, Petra has arguably been the best Fed Cup performer over the last several years and this could be the time for that success to translate into Olympic success.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets

 

QF #2: 🇵🇷 Monica Puig vs 🇩🇪 Laura Siegemund

The most unexpected quarter-final match-up sees Monica Puig come up against Laura Siegemund, the only quarter-final match-up which features two unseeded players.

Monica Puig has arguably been the form player of the tournament. The Puerto Rican has advanced to the quarter-final stage in her first Olympic campaign without dropping a set. Puig claimed comfortable straight set wins over Polona Hercog and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to begin her Rio campaign before producing her best performance of the tournament thus far in the third round where she thumped Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-1.

 

Laura Siegemund has also defied the odds to reach the quarter-final stage of her first Olympic campaign. The German did well to even reach Rio and is now making the most of her opportunity. Siegemund has benefited from a very favourable draw, claiming wins over Tsvetana Pironkova, Shuai Zhang and Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-final stage.

This will be the first ever meetings between Puig and Siegemund, two feisty competitors. The slow surface in Rio suits both ladies and they seem pretty evenly matched heading into this clash. Puig’s form is more impressive given she has beaten more established players and Puig’s best is better than Siegemund’s so I think Puig has the slight edge here.

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Laura Siegemund in 3 sets

 

QF #3: (7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina are two of the most promising young talents on the tour, the pair will go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of their first Olympic campaigns on Wednesday.

Madison Keys has taken the tough route to the quarter-final stage, the American has twice been pushed to a third set after a straight set win over Kovinic in the first round. Keys overcame Mladenovic in a 3-hour battle before booking her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

Daria Kasatkina made a slow start in Rio, just sneaking past Ons Jabeur in the first round. The Russian has raised her level in her last couple of matches as she claimed straight set wins over Saisai Zheng and Sara Errani.

Madison’s biggest concern heading into this match could be fatigue given she will be playing for a third day in a row and is coming off two tough three setters. Luckily Keys isn’t the type of player that needs to do a lot of running, Madison is playing with a lot of confidence and belief at the moment and should probably be a bit too good for Kasatkina on this occasion.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets

 

QF #4: (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs (10) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta

Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta have been two of the form players in season 2016, the pair will go head-to-head for the first time since their semi-final clash at the Australian Open earlier this year when they met at the quarter-final stage in Rio.

Kerber has breezed through to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set. The German has claimed straight set wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard and finally confirmed her spot in the final 8 with a 6-0 7-5 win over Sam Stosur.

 

Johanna Konta started her first Olympic campaign with straight set victories over Stephanie Vogt and Caroline Garcia. Konta’s first big test came at the third round stage where she was forced to work extremely hard for a 3-6 7-5 7-5 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kerber won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-5 6-2 win at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year. I suspect there will be a similar result on Wednesday, Kerber is the fresher player heading into this match and the slow surface probably suits Kerber in this match-up. Konta will find it hard to hit through the German who is looking good in Rio.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets

Sara Errani vs Daria Kasatkina, Rio Olympics R3 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview 🇧🇷
🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Sara Errani and Daria Kasatkina both have a great opportunity to make the most of a relatively open section of the draw and reach the quarter-final stage in Rio. Errani is competing in her third Olympic games and is searching for a maiden Olympic medal whilst Daria Kasatkina is participating in her first Olympic campaign.

Little was expected of Sara Errani heading into Rio, the Italian has generally struggled in 2016 but has shown some decent form in her opening couple of matches in Rio. The Italian has recorded back-to-back upset victories to advance to the third round, starting with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens before thumping Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-2. The slow surface in Rio may just be working in the Italian’s favour, it means she is able to get into the long rallies that she thrives on.

 

Daria Kasatkina has made the most of an extremely favourable draw to reach the third round stage in Rio. Kasatkina almost slipped up in the first round but managed to sneak past Ons Jabeur with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory. The Russian was more clinical in her second round match where she claimed a comfortable 6-4 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng.

Sara Errani won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win on the clay of Bad Gastein last year. Kasatkina has certainly had a great season and is a plyer on the rise but she has consistently lost big matches, generally very close matches. I suspect that trend will continue here, this should be a long, close match where the superior experience and mental strength of Sara Errani will see the Italian prevail.

Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets

Coupe Rogers, Quarter-final Day Match Previews

QF #1: (5) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs (9) 🇷🇺 Svetlana Kuznetsova

Friday’s first quarter-final in Montreal promises to be a close match between Halep and Kuznetsova. Halep has arguably been one of the most impressive players in the first couple of rounds at the Rogers Cup but is likely to face her greatest test of the tournament thus far when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Halep and Kuznetsova have both advanced to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set: Halep defeated Daria Gavrilova and Karolina Pliskova in straight sets whilst Kuznetsova defeated Alla Kudryavtseva and Petra Kvitova. 

The head-to-head record between Halep and Kuznetsova is split at 3 wins apiece. The Russian won their most recent clash, a 7-6 4-6 6-3 win at the Sydney International earlier this year (Halep was struggling with an injury during that tournament). The Romanian seems to be playing some of her best tennis of the year and should be good enough to get past Kuznetsova on a surface that suits her game.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets
QF #2: (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber and Daria Kasatkina will go head-to-head for the first time in what should be an entertaining match-up. Kerber hasn’t been at her best in the early rounds of this year’s Rogers Cup but has been strong enough to advance to the quarter-final stage where she should improve her level. Kerber has claimed three set wins over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Elina Svitolina. Kerber was close to a third round exit given Svitolina twice served for the match in the second set but the German was too good when it mattered most.

 

Daria Kasatkina’s form over her last couple of matches has been far more impressive. The Russian started the week with a comeback victory over Misaki Doi before recording straight set wins over Samantha Stosur and Roberta Vinci. Kasatkina’s 7-5 6-3 win over Vinci was particularly impressive.

I suspect Kerber will be too strong for Kasatkina in this match-up. These two have a similar approach, but clearly Angie has more experience and confidence on the biggest stages. If Kerber is fit and healthy, she should win this match because of her superior strength.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 2 sets
QF #3: (10) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (16) 🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Another first time match-up sees Madison Keys come up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Keys and Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarter-final stage in a very similar fashion. Pavlyuchenkova defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets whilst Madison Keys defeated Venus Williams in three sets, both seemed like they should have closed the match out in straight sets but both recovered well to eventually win in three.

It’s tough to know how this match will unfold, I suspect Pavlyuchenkova is capable of causing an upset. Keys was extremely erratic throughout her win over Venus, Pavlyuchenkova is the type of opponent that is good at absorbing pace and can force the American into errors.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

 

QF #4: (15) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta vs (Q) 🇸🇰 Kristina Kucova

Friday’s final quarter-final features an unlikely match-up between Johanna Konta and Kristina Kucova. Konta is in great form at the moment after claiming her maiden WTA title in Stanford last week, Konta is now on a 7 match winning streak. Konta has made the most of a favourable draw in Montreal by beating Shelby Rogers, Vania King and Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets on route to the quarter-final stage.

Kristina Kucova is having the week of her life, the Slovakian is into her first quarter-final at this level and has come all the way from the qualifying draw. Kucova has recorded upset victories over Yanina Wickmayer, Carla Suarez Navarro and Eugenie Bouchard. Kucova’s run should come to an end on Friday night, Konta should be too consistent and too powerful for Kucova.

Prediction: Johanna Konta to defeat Kristina Kucova in 2 sets

Belinda Bencic vs Daria Kasatkina, St. Petersburg SF Preview

St. Petersburg SF: (1) Belinda Bencic vs Daria Kasatkina

The only teenagers in the top 50 will go head-to-head in the second semi-final of the day in St. Petersburg on Saturday when Belinda Bencic comes up against Dara Kasatkina. This will be the first meeting between the two most promising teenagers and good friends at the tour level. Bencic seems to have a clear edge heading into this match, mostly because she is clearly the fresher of the two but Kasatkina will not go down easily.

After an incredible weekend which saw Bencic guide Switzerland to a memorable Fed Cup victory over Germany, Bencic has not been at her best in St. Petersburg but has managed to find a way to win despite not playing great. The top seed started the week with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 victory over Annika Beck before coming from behind to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7 6-4 6-2. Bencic was actually pretty lucky to get the victory over Anastasia, the Russian had her chances to close the match out in straight sets but was unable to take her chances. Bencic’s ability to win matches when she isn’t necessarily playing well is one of her greatest strengths, she continues to show maturity beyond her years.

 

Daria Kasatkina continues to climb up the rankings, the Russian is now into her first premier level semi-final courtesy of a strong run in St. Petersburg. Kasatkina started the week with an extremely tough three set battle against Kirsten Flipkens before defeating Laura Siegemund in straight sets. It was at the quarter-final stage where Kasatkina made her biggest move, coming from a set down to defeat Dominika Cibulkova 4-6 7-5 6-3. The problem for Kasatkina is that she played over 4 hours of tennis on Friday as her doubles match finished after 1am on Saturday morning. It will take a big effort from Kasatkina to recover and be competitive on Saturday evening.

These two are similar in many aspects but Bencic is clearly more experienced in bigger matches and will head into this match feeling much fresher than Kasatkina. Bencic is more solid from the baseline and should be too strong for Kasatkina on this occasion. Bencic will make it very hard for Kasatkina just to win points.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 2 sets

January 5: Winners & Losers

Biggest winner: Daria Kasatkina (d. V. Williams 6-7 6-3 6-3)

There was a lot of hype surrounding Daria Kasatkina heading into season 2016 with many expecting the young Russian to climb up the rankings. However I don’t think many would have expected the 18-year-old to make such a massive impact in her first match of the season.

 

The Russian claimed easily the greatest victory of her career by upsetting defending Champion Venus Williams in three sets in the first round at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The manner in which Daria won was particularly impressive, after losing a tight opening set it would have been very easy for the Russian to become disheartened, however to the contrary she actually stepped up her game, it was very refreshing to see. Daria displayed her all-round game, her great movement and flashy forehand stood out. Now the challenge for Daria is to quickly forget about the victory and concentrate on moving further through the draw.

 

Biggest loser: Ana Ivanovic (d. by N. Broady 5-7 4-6)

Ana Ivanovic made a horrific start to her 2016 season, suffering an embarrassing straight sets loss to British qualifier Naomi Broady. After a disappointing 2015 season, Ivanovic would have been hoping to gain some much needed confidence in Auckland however this result will do the exact opposite and has the potential to have a lasting effect.

 

Ivanovic never looked comfortable throughout her first match of the season. Ana unable to read the Naomi’s serve as the Brit fired 14 aces past her racquet. Ivanovic’s own serve was as erratic as ever, committing 8 double faults including a couple towards the end of the match at very crucial stages. Ivanovic clearly has a lot to work on before stepping onto the court in Melbourne.