Shenzhen Open, Final Preview
(1) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs (6) 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova
Saturday’s final at the Shenzhen open sees world number 1: Simona Halep take on defending champion: Katerina Siniakova. This will be a battle of two former champions at the event, Halep won the title in 2015. The only previous match between the pair took place in Shenzhen last year where Siniakova claimed a huge upset, beating Halep in 3 sets in the 2nd round on route to the first title of her career. 12 months later, Halep is in a much stronger position and will be a far greater challenge for Siniakova. Can Halep reverse last year’s result and win her first title of 2018 or will Siniakova successfully defend her title?
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There was a lot of pressure on Simona Halep heading into this event. After ending 2017 as the world number 1, many are waiting for Halep to falter. There have been little signs of that in Shenzhen this week as Halep has advanced to the final dropping just 1 set. Halep started the week with a commanding straight set win over Nicole Gibbs before suffering an early scare as she was forced to come from a set down to beat Ying-Ying Duan. Since then Halep’s level has improved dramatically, the world number 1 beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-2 and Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1 6-4 to book a spot in Saturday’s final.
Katerina Siniakova ended 2017 in terrible form, heading into this year’s Shenzhen Open many would have expected the Czech to struggle to get close to defending her title. However, Siniakova has come to play. The 21-year-olf did not drop a set in her opening 3 matches of the week, beating Ons Jabeur Yafan Wang and Kristyna Pliskova fairly easily. Siniakova’s biggest win came at the semi-final stage where she beat her childhood idol Maria Sharapova 6-2 3-6 6-3. Siniakova served extremely well throughout the match, effectively coming forward to end points at the net. After arguably the biggest win of her career, things will only get harder for Siniakova as she comes up against the world number 1 in the final a day later.
Katerina Siniakova took advantage of a rusty Simona Halep in their only previous meeting which was in Shenzhen last year. Siniakova claimed a hard fought 6-3 4-6 7-5 win. It later became clear that Halep was injured during January so one would suggest Halep will be a much tougher challenge for Siniakova this time around. This should an exciting final.
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Shenzhen Open, Semi-Final Preview
(6) 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova
A blockbuster semi-final clash at the Shenzhen open sees defending champion Katerina Siniakova take on Maria Sharapova. Siniakova has been very impressive this week in Shenzhen, advancing to the final 4 without dropping a set. Siniakova will face by far her greatest challenge of the week when she comes up against Maria Sharapova for the first time on Friday. Siniakova has mentioned that she is keen to play Sharapova, the Russian was Siniakova’s idol growing up. Can Siniakova keep her title defense alive or will Sharapova prove too strong?
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Katerina Siniakova ended 2017 in poor form, however a return to Shenzhen has seen the 2017 champion start her year in style once again. Siniakova cruised through her first match against Ons Jabeur, winning 6-1 6-1 before getting past a tough challenge from Yafan Wang with a 7-3 6-3 win. Siniakova’s most impressive performance of the week came at the quarter-final stage where she completely outplayed Kristyna Pliskova to win 6-2 6-2. Siniakova did not face a break point all match and continually troubled the Pliskova serve.
Maria Sharapova advanced to the semi-finals in Shenzhen with her most complete performance of the week. Sharapova defeated an in-form Zarina Diyas 6-3 6-3. Sharapova was able to produce a far more consistent level of tennis in her quarter-final match especially compared to her second round win over Alison Riske where she started very slowly and was forced to fight back from a set and a break down. As champion do, Sharapova is getting better as the tournament progresses in Shenzhen.
This will be the first career meeting between Siniakova and Sharapova. It will be interesting to see how the game of Siniakova stacks up to the might of Sharapova. Siniakova possesses a good mix of power, speed and touch, pretty complete game for a 21-year-old. If Siniakova executes her game she could be a threat to Sharapova.
🇪🇸 Mutua Madrid Open, R2 Match Preview
(1) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova
Angelique Kerber started her Mutua Madrid Open campaign with a solid straight set win over Timea Babos, the 6-4 6-2 win was Kerber’s first victory in Madrid in 2013 and meant that she will again be world number 1 when the new rankings come out next week. Kerber will be back In action on Monday when she takes on Katerina Siniakova in the second round, a potentially dangerous match for Kerber, especially on a clay court (Kerber's worst surface).
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Australian Open, 🇦🇺 First Round Match Preview
🇩🇪 Julia Goerges vs 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova
Two of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw at Melbourne Park will go head-to-head in the first round when Julia Goerges comes up against Katerina Siniakova. Both Goerges and Siniakova ended 2016 in good form and started 2017 in great form. Siniakova won the title in Shenzhen in the first week of the year whilst Goerges made it to the semi-final stage in Auckland.
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Wimbledon 🇬🇧🍓 Third Round Match Preview + Prediction
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Katerina Siniakova
Agnieszka Radwanska survived an almighty scare in her second round clash at the All England Club on Thursday. The Pole came as close as it can get to a disappointing early round exit, surviving three match points against Ana Konjuh to advance to the third round. The third seed will come up against another rising-star on Saturday when she faces Katerina Siniakova in third round action on Court 3.
Wimbledon has always been Radwanska’s greatest opportunity to win a Grand Slam title. The Pole is a former finalist and has reached the semi-final stage on two other occasions. Radwanska will be hoping she can go one step better in 2016 but came extremely close to a shock early round exit in the second round. Aga started the tournament with a routine 6-2 6-1 win over Kateryna Kozlova before saving three match points on route to a 6-2 4-6 9-7 win over Ana Konjuh. The Croatian served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set but was unable to convert one of three match points, Radwanska remained solid whilst match point down, showing good composure to ensure she remains alive at this year’s event. Konjuh served for the match a second time at 6-5 but Radwanska again found a way to get out of trouble before ultimately scraping through.
Katerina Siniakova arrived in London having won just one main draw match at a Grand Slam. The Czech has doubled that tally this week courtesy of reaching the third round stage at the third Grand Slam of the year. Siniakova started the week with a 6-3 7-5 win over Pauline Parmentier before claiming a 4-6 6-4 6-1 upset win over Caroline Garcia. Siniakova’s game is well suited to the grass courts and she will enter Saturday’s third round clash with nothing to lose, making her a potentially dangerous opponent.
Radwanska won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-2 6-3 win over the Czech at the first round stage of the U.S Open last year. I expect a fairly similar result in Saturday’s third round clash at Wimbledon, Siniakova’s recent form suggests the match may be a bit more competitive but ultimately the Pole should find a way to claim a straight set victory. It will be interesting to see how Aga reacts after her second round scare, it could galvanise the Pole as it did for Angelique Kerber at the Australian open earlier this year.
Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Katerina Siniakova in 2 sets
Indian Wells R1: Dominika Cibulkova vs (Q) Katerina Siniakova
Dominika Cibulkova is one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. The Slovakian arrives in California is good form after a run to the final in Acapulco a couple of weeks ago. Cibulkova faces Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova in her opening match of the tournament on Wednesday afternoon. The winner of this mat h will face the third seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.
Cibulkova continues to show signs of improvement after a poor Australian summer. Dominika reached the final at Acapulco where she was on the losing end of a 3-hour epic against Sloane Stephens in what was the greatest final of the season thus far. However, Cibulkova was unable to keep her run going in Monterrey, suffering a straight set loss Anett Kontaveit in her opening match of the event (perhaps suffering physically from a long week in Acapulco). Interestingly, Dominika doesn't have any points to defend from now until Eastbourne, meaning that the Slovakian has a great chance to dramatically improve her current ranking of number 57 in the world. Cibulkova is a former quarter-finalist in the Californian desert, reaching the final 8 in 2014.
Katerina Siniakova stormed through the qualifying draw at the BNP Paribas Open over the past couple of days. The Czech dropped a total of 6 games on route to recording straight set wins over Raveena Kingsley and Julia Boserup. The problem for Siniakova is that she has not won a main draw match since Shenzhen (the only tournament that she has recorded main draw victories this season).
This will be the first career meeting between the pair. I highly doubt that Siniakova has the confidence or the composure that is required to truly test a determined Cibulkova on this occasion. I do expect this to be a competitive match though, Siniakova certainly has potential and has the advantage of coming through qualifying and therefore already playing a couple of matches to get used to the conditions. Ultimately, Dominika should be too good and should set up a blockbuster second round clash with Agnieszka Radwanska.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Katerina Siniakova in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: (15) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Katerina Siniakova
Agnieszka Radwanska will open her U.S Open campaign with a first round meeting against promising youngster Katerina Siniakova. Aga’s results at Flushing Meadows have been disappointing, the only Grand Slam where she has failed to reach the quarter-final stage. Aga will be looking to change that statistic in 2015.
Agnieszka Radwanska arrives at Flushing Meadows perfectly poised for a big couple of weeks. The Pole’s preparation has been good, playing 4 tournaments during the U.S Open series. Radwanska’s results weren't spectacular but she showed glimpses of what she capable of and is physically ready to go.
Radwanska reached the quarter-finals in in Stanford, Toronto and New Haven but just fell short against quality opponents at each tournament (losing to Kerber, Halep and Kvitova). There is much less pressure on Aga this year in New York, she is not expected to reach the later stages and she is only defending second round points. This is a good opportunity for Aga to push back into the top 10.
Siniakova’s preparation for the final Grand Slam of the year in New York has been far from ideal. The Czech rising star was forced to sit out the entire U.S Open series due to an injury. Siniakova will be competing in just her second Grand Slam main draw and her very first at the U.S Open. It will be a tough ask for Siniakova to compete with Radwanska, especially because of her poor preparation.
This will be the first encounter between Radwanska and Siniakova. Siniakova is a very talented young opponent and will see this as a big opportunity, however given her recent injury troubles I can’t see her causing Aga any troubles here. The Pole should kick-start her U.S Open campaign with a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Katerina Siniakova in 2 sets