Qatar Total Open, Doha Final Preview
(4) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs (16) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova
The 2018 Qatar Total Open will come to an exciting end on Sunday with a blockbuster final set to take place between a pair of two-time Grand Slam champions, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova. Muguruza and Kvitova have both shown a high level of tennis this week in Doha, especially Petra Kvitova who enters Sunday’s final fresh off an epic upset victory over world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki. A win for Petra Kvitova will see her move back into the top 10 for the first time since 2016. Kvitova is on a 12 match winning streak and holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Muguruza, but the determined Spaniard will be no pushover.
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Garbine Muguruza’s run to the final in Doha is exactly what the Spaniard needed to ignite her 2018 season. Muguruza had not won back-to-back matches in 2018 before arriving in Doha. Muguruza started the event with fairly comprehensive victories over Ying-Ying Duan and Sorana Cirstea before coming from a set down to defeat Caroline Garcia. Muguruza’s 3-6 6-1 6-4 win over Garcia was the biggest win of the year for Muguruza, her first top 10 victory since Singapore last year. Muguruza was fortunate to receive a walkover into the final as Simona Halep pulled out of their scheduled semi-final because of a foot injury.
Petra Kvitova is the form player in the world right now. Kvitova heads into Sunday’s final in Doha on a 12-match winning streak, a run that includes a title in St. Petersburg a few weeks ago and a few wins in a Fed Cup tie last weekend. Kvitova’s path to the final in Doha has been extremely tough. Petra started the week with an easy win over Cagla Buyukakcay before coming from a set and a break down to beat Agnieszka Radwanska. Kvitova then claimed a pair of straight set wins over Elina Svitolina and Julia Goerges to set up a semi-final showdown with Caroline Wozniacki. For the second time this week, Kvitova managed to win from a set and a break down, overcoming a wayward start to beat the world number 1 3-6 7-6 7-5. Kvitova blasted 50 winners past the Dane in what was an inspired performance. Petra was very clutch in all the key moments, especially in the crucial second set tiebreak.
Petra Kvitova holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Muguruza. Kvitova has won the last 3 matches between the pair including a 7-6 6-3 win at the U.S Open last year in their most recent match. Petra also beat Muguruza twice in 2016, a 3 set win on clay in Stuttgart and a straight set win in Beijing. Clearly this has been a favourable match-up for Kvitova.
Qatar Total Open, 🇶🇦 Championship Match Preview:
🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki vs (2) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova
A rain interrupted week in Doha is finally back on track as a blockbuster final between Caroline Wozniacki and Karolina Pliskova is set for Saturday evening at the Qatar Total Open. Wozniacki and Pliskova have clearly been the standout performers this week in Doha, both enter the final in top form which should lead to a classic final.
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Qatar Total Open, 🇶🇦 Quarter-Final Match Preview:
🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki vs 🇺🇸 (Q) Lauren Davis
Caroline Wozniacki looms as one of the favorites to win the 2017 Qatar Total Open heading into the business end of the tournament. The Dane is in great form this week which was clear in her impressive straight set win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Lauren Davis is also in top form having come through the qualifying draw to reach the final eight in Doha.
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Qatar Total Open, 🇶🇦 Second Round Match Preview:
(4) 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki
Thursday’s match of the day at the Qatar Total Open in Doha sees Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki renew hostilities in what has traditionally been a close rivalry between two very evenly matched players. Both Radwanska and Wozniacki made decent starts to the season during the Aussie summer but both were left disappointed when they were unable to reach the second week of the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. Time is running out for Radwanska and Wozniacki to win a Grand Slam, arguably the two best current players to have never won a major. 2017 is a big year for both and the next couple of weeks are important to gain confidence and momentum heading into the next part of the season.
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Qatar Total Open, 🇶🇦 First Round Match Preview:
🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki vs 🇳🇱 Kiki Bertens
Caroline Wozniacki will be in action for the first time since her third round Australian Open exit when she opens her Qatar Total Open campaign against Kiki Bertens on Tuesday afternoon. Wozniacki made a strong finish to 2016 but failed to bring that same level to the start of the 2017 season. The Dane will be keen for a strong showing in Doha to really jumpstart her season. Wozniacki should enjoy this match-up against an out of form Kiki Bertens who is fresh off a very disappointing Fed Cup outing in Belarus last weekend.
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Qatar Total Open, 🇶🇦 First Round Match Preview:
🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs (Q) 🇷🇸 Jelena Jankovic
Tuesday’s first match on Centre Court at the Qatar Total Open features Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Jelena Jankovic. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made a brilliant start to the season having reached the quarter-final stage at the Australian Open for the first time in her career, the Russian who is often plagued with inconsistency will be keen to maintain a high level over the next couple of weeks. Pavlyuchenkova has a great record against Jankovic but the Serb is never easy to overcome and will be better acclimatized to the conditions having won three matches in the qualifying draw.
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Doha SF #1: (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (8) Carla Suarez Navarro
Agnieszka Radwanska looks like the clear favourite to claim her first Qatar Total Open title heading into the semi-final stage of the event on Friday. The Pole will face Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the final, an opponent Aga has a good record against and recently defeated quite comfortably at the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open last month. Both ladies will be aiming to reach the final at the Qatar Total Open for the very first time with a win on Friday.
Aga Radwanska has clearly been the most consistent player on the WTA tour since the U.S Open last year, Aga has won 16 of her last 17 matches and 30 of her last 35 matches including 3 titles. Aga’s level of tennis has gradually improved this week in Doha. The world number 3 started the week with scrappy straight set wins over Kateryna Bondarenko and Monica Niculescu before producing a very high quality performance to defeat Roberta Vinci 3-6 6-2 6-3. Radwanska finished the match with some impressive statistics, hitting 40 winners to just 27 unforced errors and maintaining a very high first serve percentage of 78%. Aga has now reached the semi-final stage in Doha on 5 occasions but is yet to reach a final, the Pole will be confident she can change that record on Friday.
Carla Suarez Navarro is also playing some good tennis this week in Doha. The Spaniard has not dropped a set this week, recording straight set wins over Donna Vekic, Timea Bacsinszky and Elena Vesnina. Suarez Navarro has been typically consistent during the first couple of months of the year but has also typically struggled in big matches, Carla will be looking at her semi-final clash with Radwanska as a big opportunity to reverse that unwanted trend and reach her first final of the season.
Radwanska holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Carla. The pair met last month at the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open and it was Radwanska that won quite comfortably 6-1 6-3. I expect this match to be much closer but I expect the same result. This is a good match-up for Aga who does most things better than Carla. Aga seems to be peaking at the right stage of the tournament and really enjoys the court conditions in Doha. The title is Aga’s to lose from here, she shouldn't slip up.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets
Doha QF: (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (9) Roberta Vinci
The fourth and final quarter-final of the day at the Qatar Total Open promises to be the highest quality match of the day when Agnieszka Radwanska comes up against Roberta Vinci. This is a fascinating match-up between two of the smartest and craftiest players on tour and two of the most in form players on tour over the last couple of months. This match looks like have a big impact on who goes on to win the title this week in Doha.
Aga Radwanska is the highest seed left in the draw in Doha and seems to be in prime position to claim her first Qatar Total Open title. Radwanska has come close to winning a title in Doha on many occasion, reaching the semi-final stage in the three of the last four years, this looks like the year Aga could go a couple of steps better. The Pole started the week with a hard-fought 6-4 6-4 victory over Kateryna Bondarenko before claiming a 7-5 6-1 win over Monica Niculescu in a real tactical battle. Radwanska’s victory over Niculescu is the perfect preparation for a clash with Roberta Vinci, another match-up where Radwanska will need to tactically be at her best against the Italian.
Roberta Vinci has continued her winning ways in Doha. The Italian is competing in her first event as a top 10 player courtesy of a consistent start to the season. Vinci’s week in Doha started with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko before winning an extremely tight contest against Daria Kasatkina 2-6 6-4 7-6. The Italian made the most of a favourable draw to advance to the quarter-final stage, claiming a 7-5 6-1 win over Cagla Buyukakcay. Vinci will need to overcome a very negative head-to-head record against Radwanska if she is to advance any further this week.
Radwanska holds a 7-2 head-to-head record over Vinci, however it was the Italian who won their most recent clash. Vinci recorded a shock 6-4 6-4 victory over the Pole in Beijing in 2014 in what their most recent match. Interestingly, all 7 of the previous matches between the pair ended in straight sets. I suspect Radwanska will emerge victorious on this occasion, the Pole has been very consistent recently and clearly enjoys playing Vinci and also enjoys the conditions in Doha which should further aid Aga in this match-up.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets
Doha R3: (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Monica Niculescu
Aga Radwanska will continue her quest for maiden Qatar Total Open title on Wednesday when she comes up against Romanian Monica Niculescu in the third round. Radwanska’s chances to win the title in Doha increased dramatically after day 2 saw another streak of bizarre losses for seeded players at the Qatar Total Open including Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic. Radwanska lost her most recent clash to Niculescu and will be keen to avenge that loss in Doha.
Radwanska made a reasonably positive return to competitive action in first match since a semi-final exit at the Australian Open. The Pole recorded a relatively comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory over Kateryna Bondarenko on Centre Court. It was reasonably clean performance but clearly Aga will need to improve as the week progresses. Radwanska has reached the semi-final stage in Doha in 3 of her least 4 appearances at the event, clearly the world number 3 enjoys the conditions in Doha and will be looking to go a couple of steps better in 2016.
Monica Niculescu has recorded a pair of decent victories to advance to the third round in Doha. The Romanian started her Qatar Total Open campaign with a 6-2 6-2 victory over a wayward Sabine Lisicki before winning a marathon battle against Jelena Jankovic 3-6 6-4 7-5. Niculescu twice failed to serve out the match in a drama filled deciding set but ultimately held her nerve and secured her third consecutive victory over Jankovic.
The head-to-head record between Radwanska and Niculescu is split at 1 win apiece. It was Niculescu won their most recent clash, causing a major upset at the semi-final stage in Nottingham last year by recording a 5-7 6-4 6-0 victory. Radwanska’s form has improved dramatically ever since that match which was actually a turning point in Radwanska’s season. I suspect Radwanska will be too good for Niculescu on this occasion, the Pole does pretty everything better than Niculescu and should be smart enough to win this with relative ease.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Monica Niculescu in 2 sets
Doha R2: (2) Simona Halep vs (Q) Elena Vesnina
2014 Qatar Total Open Champion Simona Halep will begin her 2016 Doha campaign on Tuesday evening with a second round clash against the experienced Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina. Simona has made a really disappointing start to the season and will be desperate to spend as much time as possible on court this week in Doha with Indian Well and Miami just around the corner, the Romanian can’t afford to arrive at those events totally deprived of confidence given the amount of points she has to defend during those events.
Simona Halep has lost 3 of her last 4 matches including a first up defeat in Dubai last week. Simona was unable to come close to defending her title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, suffering a straight set loss to Ana Ivanovic in her first match of the event. The Romanian has been unable to totally recover from her shock first round loss to Shuai Zhang at the Australian Open, Simona seems to be lacking confidence ever since that loss and is a shadow of the player that won the title in Doha back in 2014. It is critical for Simona to have a good week in Doha, if Simona continues to struggle over the next couple of weeks her ranking will drop dramatically given she is the defending champion at Indian Wells and is defending semi-finalist points in Miami.
Elena Vesnina also had a disappointing Australian summer but is showing signs of improvement this week in Doha. The Russian came through the qualifying draw in style, recording straight set victories over Ons Jabeur and Naomi Broady. Vesnina’s form translated into main draw success on Monday when she recorded a surprise 6-3 7-5 victory over Caroline Garcia.
Halep and Vesnina have never played a completed match against each other. Usually Halep would enter this match as a clear favourite, however the Romanian’s form is certainly far from her best right now and Vesnina is the type of opponent that will make life very difficult for Halep if the Romanian is having a bad night. Vesnina also has the added advantage of having already played 3 matches this week in Doha and is playing pretty good tennis week. I’m still going to stick with Halep, I suspect this will be a really close match but the Romanian should ultimately prevail in what is a critical match for the world number 4.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elena Vesnina in 3 sets