🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R1 Preview
🇮🇹 (Q) Sara Errani vs 🇺🇦 (Q) Lesia Tsurenko
2016 Dubai champion Sara Errani will be back in action on Tuesday where she comes up against the Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in the opening round of the main draw. Errani and Tsurenko both navigated their way through a tough qualifying draw in Dubai to reach the main draw. Both bring good momentum into this match and both will see this as a very winnable opening round match-up. It will be interesting to see who steps up and makes the most of this opportunity.
Sara Errani has a surprisingly great record in Dubai. Errani won the tournament in 2016 and reached the final of the event in 2013. The Italian’s ranking is still well outside the top 100 right now so she knows that every match is important as she looks to build her ranking back up into the top 100. Errani cruised past Shuko Aoyama and Bernarda Pera in the first few rounds of the qualifying draw before fighting form 1-4 down in the deciding set to defeat Aryna Sabalenka, a huge win for Errani against a very strong opponent.
Lesia Tsurenko’s progressions through the qualifying draw in Dubai was a bit of a roller-coaster rise. Tsurenko looked down and out against Ying-Ying Duan in the opening round when she trailed by a set and a double break, the Ukrainian fought back, saving match points to win in 3 sets. Tsurenko then cruised past Ons Jabeur and Zarina Diyas to secure her spot in the main draw.
The head-to-head record between the par is split at 1 win apiece. Errani beat Tsurenko in straight sets at the Rogers Cup in 2015 whilst more recently Tsurenko beat Errani 6-4 6-3 in Indian Wells in 2016.
Roland Garros, 🇫🇷🐌 R1 Preview + Prediction
(Q) 🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇯🇵 Misaki Doi
Former finalist, Sara Errani was forced to qualify for the main draw and she did so in style. Errani dropped just 7 games throughout three matches to advance to the main draw, perhaps this was the confidence boost the Italian required in order to rediscover her best form which would see her as a threat to most players on this surface. Errani opens her main draw campaign against Misaki Doi on Monday in Paris.
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Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌴🐬 R2 Match Preview
(30) 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang vs 🇮🇹 Sara Errani
Sara Errani is finally starting to gain some momentum in 2017. The Italian has plummeted down the rankings to outside the top 100 in recent times as she has struggled to find top form after some injury troubles. The last couple of weeks have been a bit more impressive for Errani, the former top 5 player has won a couple of tight matches in recent times including a hard-fought first round win in Miami over Belinda Bencic to set up a second round clash with the 30th seeded Shuai Zhang.
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Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌴🐬 R1 Match Preview
🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic
Injuries have plagued the progress of both Sara Errani and Belinda Bencic in recent times, the pair have stumbled to outside the top 100 in the rankings. Clearly, both ladies belong much higher than their current rankings suggest and both will enter this contest extremely desperate for a victory to kick-start their build back up the rankings. Bencic has won the only two previous matches between the pair but both have struggled in recent times having each won just two matches in 2017.
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Brisbane International R1: 🐨
🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇺🇸 Christina McHale
Sara Errani and Christina McHale will go head-to-head in what should be a tightly contested first round clash at the Brisbane International. Sara Errani has a good record against Christina McHale but the American is improving and the Italian took a dive down the rankings in 2016 for various reasons.
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2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview 🇧🇷
🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina
Sara Errani and Daria Kasatkina both have a great opportunity to make the most of a relatively open section of the draw and reach the quarter-final stage in Rio. Errani is competing in her third Olympic games and is searching for a maiden Olympic medal whilst Daria Kasatkina is participating in her first Olympic campaign.
Little was expected of Sara Errani heading into Rio, the Italian has generally struggled in 2016 but has shown some decent form in her opening couple of matches in Rio. The Italian has recorded back-to-back upset victories to advance to the third round, starting with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens before thumping Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-2. The slow surface in Rio may just be working in the Italian’s favour, it means she is able to get into the long rallies that she thrives on.
Daria Kasatkina has made the most of an extremely favourable draw to reach the third round stage in Rio. Kasatkina almost slipped up in the first round but managed to sneak past Ons Jabeur with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory. The Russian was more clinical in her second round match where she claimed a comfortable 6-4 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng.
Sara Errani won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win on the clay of Bad Gastein last year. Kasatkina has certainly had a great season and is a plyer on the rise but she has consistently lost big matches, generally very close matches. I suspect that trend will continue here, this should be a long, close match where the superior experience and mental strength of Sara Errani will see the Italian prevail.
Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets
Rogers Cup, Second Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
(14) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs 🇮🇹 Sara Errani
Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani will go head-to-head at the second round stage of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday in a match-up that features an extreme contrast in styles. This match-up is arguably one of the greatest contrast in styles on the tour, the tall, big serving Czech against the counter-punching Italian.
Karolina Pliskova sneaked through her opening round match with Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday, the Czech came from a set down to claim a hard-fought 3-6 6-2 7-5 victory. Pliskova has generally struggled at the biggest events in 2016, especially at the Grand Slam level, therefore Pliskova will be determined to reverse that trend during the U.S Open series starting at the Rogers Cup this week.
Sara Errani recorded a typically gutsy victory to advance to the second round in Montreal, Errani claimed a 6-4 7-6 win over Aleksandra Wozniak.Wozniak, Errani's consistency and tenacity got her over the line. Errani has generally struggled in 2016 apart from her surprise week in Dubai earlier in the year where she won the title. The Italian will need to produce some of her best tennis if she is to get past Pliskova on Wednesday.
The head-to-head record between Pliskova and Errani is split at 1 win apiece. Pliskova won the most recent match between the pair, Pliskova claimed a comfortable 6-0 6-3 win over Errani in Zhuhai last year. Wednesday’s match will be played on a similarly quick hard court surface. Pliskova's recent form hasn’t been great so I suspect this match will be a bit more competitive than their Zhuhai match but ultimately Pliskova should always be too strong for Errani on this surface.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets
Dubai Final: Barbora Strycova vs Sara Errani
Barbora Strycova and Sara Errani will do battle in an unexpected final match-up at the Dubai Free Tennis Championships on Saturday evening. This is a huge opportunity for both Barbora and Sara, both have exceeded all expectations this week and both will enter this final feeling good about their chances of emerging victorious. The Italian does have a very positive head-to-head record over Strycova having won 5 of their 6 previous matches, however results this week have shown that these records can mean very little.
Barbora Strycova is into her first premier final since Birmingham in 2014. The Czech has arguably been the most consistent player this week, recording 4 solid victories to advance to the final. The Czech started the week with a straight set win over Tsvetana Pironkova before winning 12 of the last 13 games to storm past Julia Goerges in 3 sets. Barbora produced a big upset at the quarter-final stage, recording her first victory over Ana Ivanovic in her fourth attempt with a 7-6 6-3 win. Strycova’s progression through to the final was confirmed with a 6-2 3-6 6-3 triumph over Caroline Garcia. Strycova was the more stable player throughout the match and has continually troubled her opponents with her unorthodox game in tricky conditions in Dubai.
After a poor couple of months, Sara Errani’s run to the final in Dubai has been a welcome change in fortune for the Italian. Errani has been at her dogged best this week, refusing to back down at any stage of a match. Errani’s run to the final started with straight set victories over Saisai Zheng and Yaroslava Shvedova before being forced to work extremely hard for a 4-6 6-1 6-4 triumph over Madison Brengle. The Italian confirmed her spot in a second Dubai final with an extremely hard-fought 6-4 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest match but it was a tough physical battle and it was Errani who was the stronger, braver player and she was rewarded with the victory.
Sara Errani has a very good record against Barbora Strycova, Errani holds a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over the Czech. The most recent match between the pair was an epic at Eastbourne last year where Errani emerged victorious with a 6-2 6-7 7-6 victory. Barbora squandered 2 match points in that Eastbourne clash and has signalled that she is very keen to avenge that loss with a win in the final on Saturday.
This promises to be an extremely close match between two players who seem very evenly matched heading into Saturday’s final. I’m going to give the slight edge to Strycova, the Czech has really impressed me this week and seems to be in the right frame of mind heading into a match with Errani. Despite the head-to-head record, I believe Strycova has the game to beat Errani, a lot of variety and controlled aggression off both sides. Strycova seems to be in better shape physically heading into this match having played far less tennis than Errani this week in Dubai given the Italian's run to the semi-final in doubles. Nerves will be a big factor in this match, the real difference is likely to be who is able to control their emotions best, this should be a really fun final.
Prediction: Barbora Strycova to defeat Sara Errani in 3 sets
Dubai SF #1: Sara Errani vs Elina Svitolina
The first semi-final of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships promises to be an extremely hard-fought affair when two of the fiercest competitors on tour go head-to-head, Sara Errani and Elina Svitolina. This is a massive opportunity for both, Sara has not reached a premier level final since early 2014 whilst Svitolina will be aiming to reach her first premier level final after several semi-final appearances at the premier level. It will be interesting to see who makes the most of this great opportunity to advance to the final in Dubai.
Sara Errani has made the most a relatively favourable draw to advance to the semi-final stage in Dubai. The Italian defeated a pair of qualifiers in her opening matches, recording a straight set win over Saisai Zheng in the first round before claiming a surprisingly comfortable straight win over Yaroslava Shvedova. Errani’s biggest struggle came at the quarter-final stage where the Italian battled past Madison Brengle 4-6 6-1 6-4. Errani looked down and out in the deciding set when she trailed 1-4 and was seemingly struggling physically. However, Errani is nothing if not a fighter and as is expected the Italian did not give up and ultimately won the last 5 games of the match to advance to the final four.
Elina Svitolina is through to another premier level semi-final, a great result for the Ukrainian who is playing in her first tournament under the guidance of Justine Henin. Svitolina was far too good for Jana Cepelova in the first round before recording her fifth top 10 victory by defeating Garbine Muguruza in straight sets. Svitolina’s passage through to the semi-finals was confirmed on Thursday courtesy of a 6-4 1-6 6-2 win over CoCo Vandeweghe. Svitolina lost her way through the middle stages of the match but managed to find a better level of tennis when it mattered most to win the last 6 games of the match against a fading CoCo Vandeweghe who seemed to run out of energy.
Sara Errani won the only previous encounter between the pair, a 6-2 6-3 win on an indoor hard court in Paris back in 2014. These two are extremely evenly matched, both have similar strengths and weaknesses and both will head into this match believing that they should win this.
I’m going to give the slight edge to Errani heading into this match. On paper, it looks like Svitolina has had a good week but on closer inspection the truth is that she has benefited from her opponents playing very poor tennis. Svitolina has hit a combined 29 winners and 90 unforced errors in her first 3 matches, that kind of form isn’t going to get the job done against a determined Errani. The Italian loves to grind out victories against opponents like Svitolina who is unlikely to hit Errani off the court. I expect Errani to be too strong for Svitolina on this occasion.
Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets
Dubai QF: Sara Errani vs Madison Brengle
An unlikely quarter-final match-up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships features Sara Errani and Madison Brengle. Errani and Brengle both made lacklustre starts to the season but both have put themselves in a great position to reach a premier level semi-final.
Sara Errani couldn’t have asked for a better pathway to the quarter-finals, the Italian has faced 2 qualifiers on route to the final 8. Errani started the week with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Saisai Zheng before recording a surprisingly comfortable 6-3 6-0 over a wayward Yaroslava Shvedova. Errani’s win over Shvedova was significant given how easily Yaroslava dealt with Errani in their previous meeting at Wimbledon where Shvedova famously won a ‘golden set’ against the Italian. With all seeded players eliminated from the draw, perhaps this is the opportunity Sara Errani needs to turn her disappointing form around?
Madison Brengle has caused 2 big upsets to advance to the quarter-final stage in Dubai for first time in her career. Brengle started the week with a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 win over Ekaterina Makarova before eliminating former champion Petra Kvitova from the draw in the second round courtesy of a 0-6 7-6 6-3 win. Brengle showed great fight in each match, the American was a break down in each set against Makarova but showed real determination to finish the match off in two sets. Brengle was totally outplayed by Kvitova in the first set of their second round match, Kvitova requited just 17 minutes to take the lead. However, Brengle wasn’t disheartened and eventually claimed a tight second set before fighting from a break down to win the last 5 games of the match.
Sara Errani won the only previous clash between the pair, a 6-2 2-6 6-3 victory at the Rogers Cup last year. This match-up sees two very defensive players go head-to-head, long rallies will be the theme of this match. I think this is a good match-up for Errani, the Italian will not be blown off the court and will actually get the chance to dictate play in this match-up. Errani has far more variety and class and should be too good to let an opportunity like this slip by.
Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Madison Brengle in 2 sets