Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions
The group stage of the WTA Elite Trophy continues in Zhuhai on Thursday with 3 critical matches. The competition is starting to head up, the contenders are starting to be separated from the pretenders. The two tournament favourites will be in action on Thursday, Venus Williams will face local wild card Saisai Zheng whilst Caroline Wozniacki will make her first appearance of the week when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Group A: (1) Venus Williams vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng
Local wild card Saisai Zheng will contest her first match of the tournament against Venus Williams in Thursday's opening match of the day in Zhuhai. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, on paper it looks like a total mismatch.
Venus Williams made a positive start to her Zhuhai campaign, claiming an extremely hard-fought 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over compatriot Madison Keys in the first match of the tournament. Venus was the second best player for the majority of the first couple of sets but she used all of her experience to fight her way out of trouble before running away with the match in the deciding set. Venus can confirm her place in the semi-finals with a victory over Zheng.
Saisai Zheng arrives in Zhuhai in terrible form, having lost 5 matches in a row including a first round loss at an ITF event in Nanjing last week. It would take an almighty effort from Zheng to even be competitive in a match against Venus Williams.
Saisai doesn't have any real weapons and is infamous for her use of a high loopy shots, her usual tactics are highly unlikely to trouble a determined Williams. Venus should win this one easily.
Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets
Group D: (5) Caroline Wozniacki vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Caroline Wozniacki will make her eagerly awaited Zhuhai debut on Thursday, the Dane will play Svetlana Kuznetsova who must defeat Wozniacki to keep her Zhuhai campaign alive after losing to Roberta Vinci in straight sets on Wednesday.
These two ladies have a long history, Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 6-4 but Kuznetsova has won 2 of their last 3 encounters. Wozniacki won their most recent clash 6-7 6-3 6-1 in Eastbourne earlier this year, I expect a similar result in Zhuhai.
Wozniacki's form during the Asian Swing was poor but after a couple of weeks off she should be refreshed and ready to compete at a high level in Zhuhai. The fast courts in Zhuhai don't really suit Kuznetsova, Wozniacki should certainly find a way to win this one.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets
Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (6) Sara Errani
Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is saved until last. When Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani go head-to-head we will witness a clash of extreme contrasting styles. It will be fascinating to see how this match pans out.
Karolina Pliskova made an impressive start in Zhuhai with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Jelena Jankovic. Pliskova looked down and out after dropping the second set, Karolina was seemingly exhausted by the start of the third set. However the Czech raised her level to an insane high, blasting winner after winner past Jankovic to claim a critical victory.
Sara Errani was unable to defeat Jankovic in her opening group match, succumbing 4-6 5-7 to the Serb in a gruelling match. Errani won the only previous clash between the pair, a 6-1 6-3 win in Sydney back in 2013.
Karolina Pliskova can confirm her spot in the semi-finals with a victory over Errani. If the Italian wins, things get very complicated as all 3 ladies in the group will end on 1 win apiece. Although Pliskova seemed to be struggling physically at times, I think she will be good enough to hit through Errani on these quick courts. Pliskova will be all over Errani's serve, the key is for Pliskova to focus on her own serve.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets