Serena Williams vs Kiki Bertens, U.S Open R2 Preview

U.S Open R2: (1) Serena Williams vs Kiki Bertens

Serena Williams couldn't have asked for an easier start to her 2015 U.S Open campaign. The three-time defending champion needed less than 30 minutes to advance to the second round, leading Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0 2-0 before the Russian retired injured. Serena faces Kiki Bertens in the second round on Wednesday, in what looks like another straightforward encounter for the American.

Serena’s opening match at Flushing Meadows was short and bizarre. Vitalia Diatchenko was clearly in no shape to be competing against the greatest of all time. Diatchenko picked up just 5 points in the first 8 games before finally throwing in the towel. It was a stress-free start to the tournament for Serena who will be hoping for a tougher test on Wednesday when she comes up against Kiki Bertens.


Kiki Bertens stormed through the qualifying draw at the U.S Open, winning all three matches in straight sets. Bertens set up a date with the world number 1 by defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 3-6 6-4 6-2. Bertens has spent the majority of the year at the challenger level, facing Serena Williams will be an almighty step-up in opposition.

This will be the first career meeting between Serena and Bertens. It’s impossible to see Bertens causing Serena any troubles, the world number 1 should advance to the third round without any drama. Serena will be looking to gradually raise her level as the tournament goes on, no matter who is on the other side of the net.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Kiki Bertens in 2 sets

Day 9 Review

Day 9 was kind of a let down. Halep vs Stephens promised so much but the match didn't really deliver. It was a lacklustre match, especially at the end. Even the crowd seemed unexcited, you could hear a pin drop after numerous points even towards the end of the match. Halep was just too solid for Stephens who was slightly off, which was a shame because there was evidence that she could have really troubled the Romanian.

The highlight of the day for me was the first set between Sara Errani and Jelana Jankovic. A drama filled set that lasted for 81 minutes, Jankovic twice serving for the set and blowing a set point. Errani raised her game to an amazing level towards the end of the set, Jankovic just couldn't hit past the Italian. Jankovic had to come up with something spectacular to get past Errani and she did on a number of occasions but it was not enough. Errani seemed to have a commanding lead in the tiebreak when she was up 5-2 but Jankovic came back to level at 5-5. Jankovic played two disappointing points here, succumbing to the pressure of the Italian.

In the second set Jankovic came out looking very frustrated and impatient. She had seemingly given up on the match after the disappointment of losing such a close opening set. Errani easily took the second set 6-2. The ongoing battle between Jelana's vocal support crew and the rest of the crowd was also quite amusing.

What's also interesting is that in Errani's press conference she said she didn't believe anything was wrong with Jelana when she took her medical timeout. Errani did seem to be rather annoyed by the situation at the time.

The petkovic/Bertens match certainly wasn't played at the highest level but with so much on the line the last set was intriguing. Bertens closed to within one game of the quarterfinals and it seemed that the pressure would be too much for Petkovic. The German remained calm and actually raised her level in the last few games.

Kuznetsova continues to impress. Another solid victory over a dangerous opponent. Kuznetsova seemed to always be in control of the match, Safarova did fight back late in the second set but it was all too late.

The door is open for an unexpected Grand Slam champion in Paris, the two favourites left Sharapova and Halep are far from unbeatable.

Petkovic Edges Past Bertens to Reach Quarterfinals

28th seed Andrea Petkovic has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the fourth time in her career. This is the first time the German has reached this stage of a Grand Slam since returning from injury. Petkovic came back from a set down to defeat qualifier Kiki Bertens 1-6 6-2 7-5.

Kiki Bertens came out swinging freely, dominating her opponent in the opening set. It was in the third game that Bertens made her first move, breaking Petkovic to love. In the next game Bertens consolidated the break, successfully implementing a drop shot on two occasions. Bertens would break once again for a 4-1 lead, again using the drop shot and forcing an error from Petkovic. The set quickly slipped away from Petkovic who was becoming increasingly frustrated, Bertens taking the opening set 6-1. Bertens hit 10 winners to just 4 unforced errors, a commanding opening set from the qualifier.

The second set was a completely different story, Petkovic raising her game whilst Bertens began to hit far too many unforced errors. Petkovic would get herself back on track in the opening game of the set, breaking with a crosscourt forehand winner. Petkovic quickly took a commanding 5-1 lead in the second set. There was some late resistance from the qualifier but it was all too late, Petkovic levelling the match at one set all. Bertens hit a whopping 20 unforced errors in the second set, 5 times more than she hit in the opening set.

The third set was a tight battle all the way to end. It was Andrea Petkovic who obtained the first significant lead. Petkovic broke in the fifth game before consolidating the break with a service hold in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. At this point Petkovic had only hit 1 winner for the set so the match was still on the racquet of Bertens. Bertens began to hit freely again, winning three straight games to close to within one game of the quarterfinals. Having not served all that convincingly throughout the match the pressure was on Petkovic to hold to stay in the match. The German stood tall, a solid service hold saw the set levelled at 5-5. Nerves seemed to get the better of Bertens at this point, a double fault and some loose errors handing Petkovic the break and a chance to serve for the match. Petkovic was up to the task, finishing the match off with forehand winner down the line on her second match point.

Petkovic's experience seemed to drag her across the line in the end. The Germans reaction after the match showed just how much this win means to her, reaching the quarterfinals of a grand slam for the first time since her injury layoff. The German could go even further with a winnable math to come.

Roland Garros – Day 9 – 4th Round Match Predictions

Monday features four fascinating fourth round clashes where some surprise quarterfinalists will be confirmed. 

(4) Simona Halep vs (15) Sloane Stephens 

Simona Halep, the highest seed left in the draw will face by far her biggest test of the fortnight when she takes on American Sloane Stephens in the fourth Round on Monday.

Halep has powered through the opening week, dominating her first three opponents, inflicting three consecutive straight set victories. Sloane Stephens has once again peaked at a Grand Slam. This is the 6th consecutive time the erratic American has reached the second week of a Grand Slam. Stephens is also yet to drop a set, cruising past Ekaterina Makarova in the third round.

As the highest seed left in the draw, the pressure is on Halep; she has certainly never been in this position at a Grand Slam.

These two haven’t played since Simona’s rise up the rankings. Stephens thumped Halep in their two previous encounters early in 2013 in Australia. Halep won their only other match, which was on clay in Barcelona in 2012.

These two ladies are similar in many ways. They are both very good movers, both very good retrievers and both able to attack with big forehands and both at similar stages in their career with Halep obviously slightly ahead at the moment.

Halep is the strong favourite heading into this match but Stephens is a dangerous opponent and is certainly capable of frustrating Halep and causing an upset.

Prediction: Sloane Stephens to defeat Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-2

(6) Jelana Jankovic vs (10) Sara Errani 

Last years semi finalist Sara Errani will have her work cut out when she meets the number 6 seed Jelana Jankovic for a spot in the final 8 at Roland Garros.  

Both Jankovic and Errani were pushed to three sets in their opening round matches but both seem to be getting better with each match, coming through their last two matches in straight sets. Jankovic was particularly impressive in her straight sets domination of Sorana Cirstea, someone she has had trouble with in the past. 

Errani has defeated Jankovic on two of the three occasions they have played, including the last two times. The most recent encounter  was a few weeks ago in Rome, Errani victorious in front of a vocal Italian crowd. Her other victory over Jankovic came at last years year end championships, in this match Jankovic had nothing to play for, having already qualified for the semifinals. 

Both ladies are very comfortable on clay and both have great records at Roland Garros. Errani a finalist in 2012 and a semifinalist in 2013, whilst Jankovic has reached the semi finals in Paris on three occasions. 

There is a lot of pressure on Errani here in terms of points to defend and in the past she hasn't dealt with pressure very well. I feel the result of this match will depend on Jankovic's attitude. If she is patient and tactically sound she should come through victorious. 

Prediction: Jelana Jankovic to defeat Sara Errani 7-5 7-5 

(23) Lucie Safarova vs (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova 

Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova once again features at the pointy end of the tournament at Roland Garros. The Russian will face Lucie Safarova, fresh of her upset victory over Ana Ivanovic for a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Kuznetsova spent over three hours on court in her marvellous third round victory over a determined but erratic Petra Kvitova. Safarova made surprisingly light work of her match with Ivanovic, the Czech seems to match up very well against Ivanovic and she took full advantage of this. 

These two haven't played each other in over two years, their head to head is split at 3-3. This will be the first time they have played on clay.

I'm not sure Kuznetsova can play at a high enough level after her three set victory over Kvitova to trouble Safarova. The match will be on Safarova's racquet, if she can control her aggression and limit the number of errors she hits she should be able to win this match. 

Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-2 

(28) Andrea Petkovic vs (Q) Kiki Bertens 

Not many, if any would have predicted this fourth round match up when the draw was released. This is a massive opportunity for two ladies at different stages of their careers to reach the quarterfinals on a Grand Slam. 

Bertens raced through qualifiers and has carried that momentum into the main draw, dropping just one set to Pavlyuchenkova. Her opponent, Andrea Petkovic will be by Bertens biggest test thus far. 

Petkovic overcame illness and a vocal french crowd to defeat Kiki Mladenovic in the third round. It was a close match but Petkovic was better when it mattered most. Petkovic has worked so hard to be back playing at this level and I really can't se her slipping up here. 

Prediction: Andrea Petkovic to defeat Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-3

Roland Garros – Day 5 – 2nd Round Match Predictions

Day 4 featured the shock exit of world number 1 and raging favourite Serena Williams. The defending Champs exit along with Li Na's first round departure have totally opened up the draw. Can Aga finally win a Grand Slam.. on clay?! I hope so! Maria is certainly the new favourite to go all the way followed by Simona and Ivanovic. Day 5 features a number of intriguing matches..

(23) Lucie Safarova vs. Casey Dellacqua

This is going to be an interesting match up between two lefties who in some ways play quite similarly. This is the first time these two ladies have ever played each other which is surprising considering they are both seasoned competitors.

Safaraova's results has been typically erratic this season, she has had some good victories but some terribly disappointing loses. Casey Dellacqua has had a wonderful year, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals at Indian Wells. Neither have done all that well on clay. Safarova notably pushed Sharapova to a third set tiebreak in Stuttgart but that was on a much faster surface.

Safarova has to come into this match as the warm favourite, to me she is in some ways a better version of Dellacqua. If she comes to play she will win this match in straight sets...

Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Casey Dellacqua 6-4 7-5

(24) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. (Q) Kiki Bertens

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova must win this match. These are the kinds of matches she has frequently dropped in the last few months after a promising start to the season. There is no doubt that Bertens is talented, especially on clay but Pavlyuchenkova is more experienced and at this point in her career is simply better than her opponent.

Pavlyuchenkova wasn't too convincing in her three set victory over Date-Krumm but she has had some very promising wins this season. Most notably defeating Sharapova in Paris on route to the title at the Open GDF Suez. She also had a solid victory over Jankovic a few weeks ago in Madrid. Bertens has had to real notable wins this season.

I think Pavlyuchenkova will step up here and advance to the third round but it won't be easy

Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Kiki Bertens 7-5 4-6 6-2

Full match predictions

(4) Simona Halep to defeat (Q) Heather Watson in straight sets

(6) Jelana Jankovic to defeat Kurumi Nara in straight sets

(15) Sloane Stephens to defeat Polona Hercog in straight sets

(11) Ana Ivanovic to defeat Elena Svitolina in straight sets

(5) Petra Kvitova to defeat Marina Erakovic in straight sets

(28) Andrea Petkovic to defeat Stefanie Voegele in three sets

(21) Kirsten Flipkens to defeat Julia Glushko in three sets

Maria-Teressa Torro Flor to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets

(10) Sara Errani to defeat Dinah Pfizenmaier in straight sets

(25) Sorana Cirstea to defeat Teliana Pereira in straight sets

Silvia Soler-Espinosa to defeat Yanina Wickmayer in three sets

Alison Riske to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in three sets

Camila Giorgi to defeat (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets

(22) Ekaterina Makarova to defeat Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets