U.S Open R2: (11) Angelique Kerber vs Karin Knapp
Angelique Kerber looms as a dark horse at this year’s U.S Open. The former semi-finalist showed strong form during the U.S Open series where she picked up her 4th title of the year in Stanford. The German made a commanding start to her 2015 U.S Open campaign on Tuesday, recording a dominant 6-3 6-1 victory over Alexandra Dulgheru. Angie faces Karin Knapp in the second round on Thursday.
The U.S Open has been Angie’s most successful slam, it was in New York that Angie made a big breakthrough back in 2011 when she reached her first ever Grand Slam semi-final. The quicker hard courts in New York really suit the German’s game and she will be looking for another deep run this year. Angie got off to a perfect start on Tuesday with a commanding, confidence boosting victory over Dulgheru.
Karin Knapp advanced to the second round in New York for just the second time in seven years with an extremely hard-fought 6-7 6-2 6-4 victory over Ajla Tomljanovic. It was a big victory for the Italian. Her first Grand Slam victory in 2015 after three consecutive first round exits. Knapp has played some decent tennis during the U.S Open series and will enter her second round clash with Kerber having nothing to lose.
In their only previous completed match, Kerber pulled off a 6-7 6-0 6-1 victory in Cincinnati back in 2013. On a quicker hard court, Kerber has the clear edge. Knapp will struggle to find ways to hit through the solid German. Angie should continue to build momentum with another comfortable victory.
Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Karin Knapp in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Karin Knapp
There were big expectations placed upon Ajla Tomljanovic heading into 2015, however the Australian has failed to fire. Ajla has one last big opportunity to make an impact in 2015, starting with a winnable first round clash against Italy’s Karin Knapp.
Ajla Tomljanovic’s form during the U.S Open was typical of her season, there were glimpses of brilliance but some incredible lows. Ajla picked up an impressive come from behind victory over Madison Keys to reach the quarter-finals in Stanford where she would succumb to Karolina Pliskova. Ajla played some stunning tennis in the final set against Keys, it’s a shame we don’t get to see her play at that level very often. Ajla’s preparation for New York ended on a sour note, thumped by Irina Falconi in the final round of qualifying in Connecticut.
Karin Knapp has shown reasonable form over the last few months, her ranking is steadily rising and she only just missed out on a seeding in New York. Knapp went on deep runs in Bad Gastein and Baku but her results during the U.S Open series weren’t so great. Knapp suffered a humiliating 0-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Rogers Cup before reaching the third round in Cincinnati where she was smashed by Serena Williams 0-6 2-6.
Knapp defeated Tomljanovic 7-5 6-2 in Hobart earlier this year in what was their only previous encounter. Both Ajla and Karin will see this as an opportunity for a rare Grand Slam victory, it’s a tough one to call. I’m going to side with Tomljanovic. Ajla’s upside is far greater, hopefully she will bring her a-game to Flushing Meadows, I have a feeling she will.
Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Karin Knapp in 2 sets
Cincinnati R3: (1) Serena Williams vs Karin Knapp
Serena Williams made a solid start to her title defence at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5 6-3 to advance to the second round. The world number 1 will face a resurgent Karin Knapp in the second round.
After a shock semi-final loss to Belinda Bencic in Toronto last week, a fired up Serena Williams made a positive start in Cincinnati. Serena’s serve was a big problem in her loss to Bencic last week, the American’s serve was much more effective in her victory over Pironkova, firing down 15 aces and saving all three break points she faced. This is Serena's last tournament before the U.S Open, she seems extremely focused and eager to head into New York with winning form.
Karin Knapp has had some solid results in the last couple of weeks, reaching the final at Bad Gastein (on clay) and the semi-finals at Baku. However the Italian made a disastrous start to her U.S Open series campaign last week, suffering an embarrassing 0-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Rogers Cup. Knapp seems to be in a better space this week, picking up straight set victories over Konjuh and Gavrilova to set up her first career meeting with Serena Williams. This is obviously a massive challenge for Knapp, a good test to see where her game is really at.
Knapp has shown that she can be very competitive with the best in the world, most notably her epic match against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open last year which ended 8-10 in the third set. However it’s hard to see Knapp causing a fired up Serena Williams any problems in this match, this should be a routine victory for the world number 1.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Karin Knapp in 2 sets
(1) Caroline Wozniacki vs Karin Knapp
Caroline Wozniacki kicked off her quest for her first title of 2014 with a comprehensive 6-0 6-0 drubbing of Belinda Bencic in just 44 minutes. The Dane’s serve was as potent as ever, she fired down 9 aces and won 78 percent of points on her first serve. Karin Knapp also easily accounted for her first round opponent, defeating local wild card Ipek Soylu 6-2 6-2.
In their only previous encounter which took place in New Haven last year, Carline Wozniacki defeated Karin Knapp 6-1 7-5. We should see a similar result when the two meet on Wednesday night in Istanbul. Wozniacki is clearly determined to do well in Istanbul and was in ominous form on Tuesday. I don't think Knapp has the game to hit past the consistent Dane.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Karin Knapp in straight sets
(3) Klara Koukalova vs Kristina Mladenovic
Klara Koukalova and Kristina Mladenovic will do battle on Wednesday for a spot in the quarter-finals in Istanbul. Klara Koukalova survived a stern test from youngster Dona Vekic in the opening round, taking the third set 6-4. Whilst Kristina Mladenovic had a comprehensive 6-4 6-2 victory over Mayr-Achleitner in her opening round match.
This will be the first time these two will come up against each other, it promises to be an interesting clash. Mladenovic has had a pretty disappointing season when considering what she is capable of. Klara has had a typically average season; her best result came in Florianopolis where she claimed her only title of the season thus far.
It is hard to pick a winner in this match but I think Mladenovic will prove too powerful for Klara on this occasion.
Prediction: Kristina Mladenovic to defeat Klara Koukalova in three sets
Other match Predictions:
(7) Bojana Jovanovski to defeat Francesca Schiavone in three sets
(4) Elina Svitolina to defeat Stefanie Voegele in straight sets