Karolina Pliskova vs Caroline Garcia, Roland Garros QF Preview

Roland Garros, 🇫🇷🐌 Quarter-Final Preview + Prediction
QF #4: (2) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs (28) 🇫🇷 Caroline Garcia

The fourth and final quarter-final at Roland Garros is arguably the most exciting of the quartet as Karolina Pliskova takes on Caroline Garcia. Both Pliskova and Garcia will be in unprecedented territory heading into the final 8 clash, Pliskova had ever been past the second round at Roland Garros prior to this event whilst Caroline Garcia will be playing in her very first quarter-final at the Grand Slam level having never reached the second week of a Slam prior to this event. There has previously been very little to separate these two when they have gone head-to-head, their four previous meetings have been split, two wins apiece. The scene is set for a tight contest.

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Petra Kvitova vs Karolina Pliskova, Sydney Final Preview

(2) Petra Kvitova vs Karolina Pliskova

The final of the 2015 Apia Sydney International will be an all Czech affair with Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova set to do battle on Friday evening.

Karolina Pliskova advanced to her first premier level final with an extremely impressive 6-3 6-2 victory over Angelique Kerber in just 55 minutes. Pliskova smacked Kerber off the court, the German simply had no answer to Karolina's booming serve and powerful groundstrokes.

Karolina served amazingly well in her semi-final victory, as she has all week. The Czech won every single one of her service games (she didn't face any break points) and stunningly lost just one point on her first serve. Pliskova also returned extremely well, taking her chances and breaking the Kerber serve multiple times.

It's been an absolutely wonderful start to the season for Pliskova, she is certainly one of the form players heading into Melbourne and a threat to the major contenders.

 

Kvitova avenged her semi-final loss to Tsvetana Pironkova at last years Sydney international with a reasonably comfortable 7-5 6-2 victory. Petra didn't really get going until midway through the opening set, when she found her range she was too hot for Pironkova to handle. Kvitova has also made a solid start to the season, another title would be the cherry on top and ensure she heads to Melbourne full of confidence.

 

Petra emerged victorious in the only previous meeting between the two, a three set victory in Wuhan late last year.

Karolina has played outstanding tennis this week, there is no reason why she can't cause an upset in this final. If Karolina serves as well as she has been and keeps her cool under pressure she will be presented with opportunities. However I'm going to stick to the prediction in my initial tournament preview, Petra's experience in big occasions will be a vital factor.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Karolina Pliskova in three sets

Karolina Pliskova vs Carla Suarez Navarro, Sydney QF Preview

Karolina Pliskova vs Carla Suarez Navarro

Wednesday's first quarter-final at the Apia International Sydney sees Karolina Pliskova take on Carla Suarez Navarro. This is a massive opportunity for both ladies to reach the Semi-Finals and perhaps beyond at a premier event.

After defeating qualifier Polona Hercog in the opening round, Karolina was scheduled to face top seed Simona Halep in the second. Unfortunately Simona was forced to withdraw due to illness. Nicole Gibbs stepped in as a lucky loser. Pliskova breezed past Nicole Gibbs, a comprehensive 6-0 6-0 victory in just 38 minutes.

Karolina has made a promising start to the season, highlighted by her marathon three hour first round victory over Vika in Brisbane. However she was unable to back up that victory in the next round, suffering a surprise loss to Alla Kudryavtseva. She won't want to let another opportunity slip here.

 

Carla Suarez Navarro has also made a positive start to her 2015 campaign. Carla has now reached back to back Quarter-Finals, after reaching the final 8 in Brisbane where she was humbled by a red-hot Maria Sharapova.

All four of the Spaniards victories this season have been three setters, on three occasions Carla has been forced to come from a set down. On route to the Quarter-finals Carla has had two tough victories over quality opponents, defeating Lisicki in a third set tiebreaker before coming from a set down to edge past sixth seed Ekaterina Makarova.

 

Carla Suarez Navarro was victorious in the only previous encounter between these two. A 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory at Rogers Cup last season.

Pliskova is constantly improving, her next step is to consistently beat opponents like Carla who has a similar ranking. I think Pliskova will get the job done in a tight three setter.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets

2015 Brisbane International Tournament Preview

Here we go again! As always the season will kick off with a bang at the premier level Brisbane International held at the intimate Pat Rafter Arena. The event has once again attracted a stellar lineup, an exciting mix of experience and youth.

Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka are the headline acts at this year's event . Their biggest competition will come from Dominika Cibulkova, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic. Whilst Rising stars: Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Madison Keys will all be keen to make a bright start to what shapes as a critical season in their respective careers.

Home Crowd favourite Samantha Stosur will return to her home state event this year. Stosur choosing to avoid the Hopman Cup, instead opting for a more pressurised start to her 2015 Australian Open campaign.

 

A notable absentee at this year's first premier level event is world number 1 and 2 time defending champion Serena Williams. Serena instead choosing to begin her season at the Hopman Cup. It seems Serena is looking to mix things up after consecutive seasons of disappointment in Melbourne despite playing well in Brisbane. Serena will be joined in Perth by fellow top 10 occupants Agnieszka Radwanska and Eugenie Bouchard. Whilst Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep will begin their season at the international level Shenzhen Open.

Several players will be desperately seeking much needed ranking points in a final push to be seeded at the upcoming Australian Open. Most notably, Victoria Azarenka. The belarusian will be under extreme pressure to defend her finalist points from 2014 in order to ensure she is seeded in Melbourne. Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia and Varvara Lepchenko are also delicately poised in the race to obtain a seeding at the Australian Open.

At the top of the draw lyes Maria Sharapova, the first seed will receive a bye into the second round. The two biggest threats in Maria's quarter will be Sabine Lisicki (potential second round opponent) and seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro (potential quarterfinal opponent). Sabine Lisicki would certainly be a tricky first up opponent for Maria, a potential banana skin indeed.

Quarter 1 predication: Maria Sharapova

 

Third seed Angelique Kerber and sixth seed Jelena Jankovic headline the second quarter of the draw. Angie will begin her 2015 campaign against the dangerous Caroline Garcia. Whilst Jelena Jankovic faces another talented youngster, Ajla Tomljanovic. Elina Svitolina and Alison Riske lurk as potential threats in the second quarter.

Quarter 2 Prediction: Angelique Kerber

The third quarter is by far the most challenging section of the draw. Eighth seed Garbine Muguruza and fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova are joined by the unseeded Victoria Azarenka, Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys and Sam Stosur. Azarenka will face Pliskova in a blockbuster opening round match whilst Dominika Cibulkova will face Madison Keys. An Extremely exciting section which is sure to provide some drama.

Quarter 3 Prediction: Victoria Azarenka

The bottom quarter is a mess... Compared to the other sections. Fifth seed Andrea Petkovic and second seed Ana Ivanovic have certainly been treated kindly. The two are joined by two qualifiers. Petkovic will face Kanepi in the opening round whilst Ivanovic will receive a bye into the second round. Ana will face either Shuai Zhang or Jarmila Gajdosova in the second round.

Quarter 4 Prediction: Ana Ivanovic

Champion Prediction: Victoria Azarenka Def. Maria sharapova

 

The first tournaments of the year are always the most difficult to predict.

This tournament is particularly important for Vika who will be desperate to ensure she is seeded in Melbourne but more importantly to gain momentum heading into her most successful Grand Slam. Vika is the type of player that can win and compete with the best even when she is rusty, she may need to call on those qualities in Brisbane.
In the past a fully for Vika has been extremely difficult to defeat, especially in Australia. I'm tipping Vika will remind us what a champion she is in Brisbane despite having a reasonably difficult draw.

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.

WTA TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup Preview

The lead up to the US Open hard court series is underway. The Istanbul cup returns for the first time since 2010 (Istanbul instead hosted the WTA Championships between 2011 and 2013). World number 15, Caroline Wozniacki is the number one seed at this year’s event and is the headline act in what is an otherwise lackluster field. After a disappointing start to the season, Caroline rebounded with a solid grass court campaign, however her Wimbledon campaign would ultimately end in a disappointing manner when she was defeated by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets in the round of 16. The former world number 1 will have her eyes firmly set on claiming her first title of the season in Istanbul.

Apart from Wozniacki there isn’t too much to get excited about here. The remaining seeded players are Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova, Elina Svitolina, Magdalena Rybarikova, Kurumi Nara, Bojana Jovanovski and Karolina Pliskova. Other notable participants include: Francesca Schiavone, Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic.

The top quarter of the draw is occupied by Caroline Wozniacki who has drawn Belinda Bencic in the opening round. This is by far the most intriguing of the first the round matches, Bencic has already claimed a couple of big scalps this season (Pavlyuchenkova, Cornet and Errani) and is certainly a chance to cause an upset here. If Wozniacki gets through her tricky opening round match she is likely to face the 8th seeded Karoline Pliskova in the quarter-finals. Pliskova has troubled Wozniacki in their previous two meetings, pushing the Dane to three sets on both occasions.

Quarter-final 1 prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (8) Karolina Pliskova

Klara Koukalova has also drawn a promising youngster in the opening round; she will take on Donna Vekic. Klara has already beaten the Croatian twice this year, both in straight sets and both on hard courts. The winner of this match will likely face Kristina Mladenovic in the second round. The talented Frenchwoman has a good opportunity to come through this section. Bojana Jovanovski is the other seeded player in this section, the Serb claimed the biggest victory of her career a few weeks a go at Wimbledon, defeating two time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Bojana should be able to navigate her way through her opening round matches to put herself in a position to aim for her fourth career title.

Quarter-final 2 prediction: Kristina Mladenovic vs. (7) Bojana Jovanovski

The bottom half of the draw is wide open. Magdalena Rybarikova and Elina Svitolina are the seeded players in the third section. Svitolina faces Kovinic in the opening round; Kovinic is coming off a decent run in Bucharest. In what looks like the second most intriguing first round match, Tsventana Pironkova takes on Stefanie Voegele.

Quarter-final 3 Prediction: Tsventana Pironkova vs (5) Magdalena Rybarikova

The final section features the number 2 seed, Roberta Vinci as well as the 6th seed Kurumi Nara. Remarkably this section also features 4 qualifiers. Vinci is coming straight from the clay courts of Bucharest, it is hard to see her adjusting to the hard courts of Istanbul well enough to make a deep run this week. Nara continues to steadily climb up the rankings; the Japanese number 1 is my pick to come through the relatively weak bottom half of the draw.

Quarter-final 4 Prediction: (2) Roberta Vinci vs. (6) Kurumi Nara

After all the tough times Caroline has gone through in the past few months, both on and off the court it would be great to see the Dane claim her first title of the year. I think she will do it, she usually comes through these types of events victorious.

Final Prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki def. (6) Kurumi Nara

Leave a comment below, who do you think will win the title? 🙂