Anastasija Sevastova vs. Shuai Zhang, Zhuhai RR preview + prediction

WTA Elite Trophy – Zhuhai RR preview + prediction
🇱🇻 (2) Anastasija Sevastova vs. 🇨🇳 (12) Shuai Zhang

The second seeded Anastasija Sevastova begins her Zhuhai campaign on Thursday night against China’s Shuai Zhang. The only other match from this group took place on Wednesday evening, Garbine Muguruza came from a set down to defeat Zhang. Zhang needs to win this in straight sets to have any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals whilst a Sevastova win will set-up a showdown with Muguruza for a spot in the final 4.

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Sevastova won the only previous match between the pair 6-2 6-4 in Madrid last year. I expect Sevastova to be too strong again here. Sevastova should be able to handle the solid game of Zhang whilst Sevastova is far more versatile and has more weapons at her disposal. Zhang will struggle to hit through Sevastova whilst the Latvian’s mix of touch and power will see her take control of this match. Sevastova played well on this surface last year where she reached the semi-finals.

Prediction: Anastasija Sevastova to defeat Shuai Zhang in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs. Shuai Zhang, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy, Group Stage – Preview
🇪🇸 (7) Garbine Muguruza vs. 🇨🇳 (12/wc) Shuai Zhang

Garbine Muguruza begins her Zhuhai campaign on Wednesday against Chinese wild card Shuai Zhang. At her best, there is no doubt that Muguruza is one of the most dangerous players in the field this week but at her worst the Spaniard is easily capable of crashing out of the event without winning a match. Which Muguruza will show up in Zhuhai?

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Garbine Muguruza will look to end a disappointing season on a high in Zhuhai. Muguruza would have expected to reach Singapore this year, instead she was reasonably lucky to even be able to compete in Zhuhai. Muguruza’s form during the last few months has been typical of her season, inconsistent and generally lackluster. Muguruza’s only small highlight of late was a run to the semi-finals in Hong Kong, most recently she was beaten in the second round by Dayan Yastremska in Luxembourg. Muguruza is the biggest name in this year’s Zhuhai field and is the only Grand Slam champion, so it will be interesting to see if her level of tennis reflects that status.

Shuai Zhang will be competing in Zhuhai for the second time, on both occasions she was awarded a wild card as the top ranked local player (not to automatically qualify). Zhang arrives in Zhuhai in good form, she has won 11 of her last 15 matches having reached the semi-finals in Osaka, the quarter-finals in Beijing and the semi-finals in Hong Kong. This is a good opportunity for Zhang to push up the rankings in front of her home crowd, it will be interesting to see if she can make the most of this opportunity.

Muguruza leads the H2H series between the pair 2-1. All 3 of their matches were within the last few years. Zhang stunned Muguruza in Doha last year. Muguruza has won the last 2 matches between the pair, including a commanding 6-3 -0 victory at the US Open earlier this year.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: click here

Petra Kvitova vs. Shuai Zhang, Prague SF Preview

J&T Banka Prague Open, SF Preview
🇨🇿 (2) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇨🇳 (6) Shuai Zhang

Petra Kvitova and Shuai Zhang will compete in Friday’s first semi-final in Prague, a match-up between two good friends. Kvitova will enter this match as a strong favourite, the Czech star has certainly been the most impressive player on route to the final 4 and is by far the highest credentialed semi-finalist. However, Zhang has beaten Kvitova a couple of times and won their only previous match on a clay court.

Petra Kvitova has been in fearsome form this week in front of her adoring fans in Prague. Kvitova has stormed into the semi-finals without dropping a set, claiming wins over Tereza Smitkova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Katerina Siniakova, all fellow Czech’s. Kvitova is now a strong favourite to win her third title of the year, if she can maintain the level that she has displayed over her first 3 matches then she will be very tough to stop.

Shuai Zhang has also moved into the semi-finals in Prague without dropping a set. Zhang’s form has been far more surprising than Kvitova’s given Zhang arrived in Prague in poor form and with little confidence on clay. Zhang was easily beaten by Rus in straight sets in Istanbul last week. A great turnaround for Zhang who now has nothing to lose at this stage of the tournament. Zhang has beaten Stefanie Voegele, Elena-Gabriela Ruse and Jasmine Paolini on route to the semi-finals.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. Interestingly it is Zhang who has won 2 of their last 3 matches, including a 6-2 6-1 demolition in New Haven last year and a 7-6 5-7 6-3 win in Rome in 2014 in what was their only previous match on clay.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Shuai Zhang vs Rebecca Peterson, Acapulco QF Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, 🇲🇽🌴 Acapulco QF Preview
🇨🇳 (4) Shuai Zhang vs. 🇸🇪 (Q) Rebecca Peterson

The fourth seeded Shuai Zhang comes up against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson at the quarter-final stage of the Abierto Mexicano on Thursday. Both Zhang and Peterson have advanced to the quarter-final stage in Acapulco without dropping a set. Can Peterson keep her dream run going? Or will Zhang be too strong?

Shuai Zhang has reached back-to-back quarter-finals having reached the final 8 stage in Budapest last week. Zhang started her Acapulco campaign with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 win over Jasmine Paolini before overcoming a tough test to defeat Jill Teichmann 7-6 6-4.

Rebecca Peterson is having the best week of her career. Peterson advanced to the main draw with straight set wins over Elitsa Kozlova and Olivia Rogowska. Peterson has been just as commanding in the main draw, beating Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4 and Monica Puig 6-1 6-4. Peterson’s win over Puig was particularly impressive, a very clean performance, one that did not reflect her current lowly ranking.

It was Zhang who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-2 6-2 win in Honolulu last year.

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here

Sloane Stephens vs Shuai Zhang, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(13) 🇺🇸 Sloane Stephens vs 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang

The 2018 Australian Open will be Sloane Stephens’ first Grand Slam appearance since claiming her maiden Grand Slam title at the U.S Open last year. Stephens will begin the event with an opening round clash against China’s Shuai Zhang. Interestingly, Stephens is yet to win a match since her win over Madison Keys in the final of last year’s U.S Open, Stephens arrives in Melbourne on the back of 5 consecutive losses.

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Sloane Stephens and Shuai Zhang both made their big breakthrough’s at the Grand Slam level at Melbourne Park, both have great memories at the event. Stephens reached the semi-finals in 2013 whilst Zhang reached the quarter-finals in 2016. The quick hard courts in Melbourne really suit both Stephens and Zhang.

Sloane Stephens’ only match in the lead-up to the Australian Open was In Sydney where she was trashed by Camila Giorgi 6-3 6-0 in the opening round. Shuai Zhang’s form is better but unspectacular, Zhang reached the second round in Shenzhen and Hobart, beaten by Diyas in 3 sets in Shenzhen and Sabalenka in straight sets in Hobart.

Stephens holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Zhang. The most recent match between the pair took place on grass in Birmingham in 2014, Stephens won 6-3 6-1.

Shuai Zhang vs Aryna Sabalenka, Hobart R2 Preview

Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ R2 Preview
(1) 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

Top seeded Shuai Zhang faces a tough test in the second round of the Hobart International on Wednesday where she comes up against in-form Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka. This should be an exciting match-up between two very aggressive players. Sabalenka is one of the hottest players on tour right now, the fearless teenager continues to rise up the rankings and will relish the opportunity of the playing the top seed in Hobart. Will Sabalenka take another step forward or will the more experienced Zhang be too solid?

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Shuai Zhang has the strange title of being a top seed this week in Hobart, not a position the world number 35 is used to finding herself in. Zhang made a positive start to her Hobart campaign on Tuesday by defeating Poland’s Magda Linette in straight sets, a 7-5 6-3 victory.

Aryna Sabalenka has seemingly rolled into 2018 with the same dangerous form she ended the 2017 season. Sabalenka had a good week in Shenzhen to start the year, reaching the quarter-finals with 2 commanding wins before succumbing to Simona Halep quite handily. Sabalenka advanced to the second round in Hobart courtesy of 6-4 6-3 win over Eugenie Bouchard in what was a fairly messy match. Both players struggled behind their serve but Sabalenka was the more consistent and clinical of the two.

The only previous meeting between the pair ended in a 6-4 6-2 win for Zhang at an ITF event in 2016. Sabalenka has improved significantly since their last meeting, expect the Belarussian to give Zhang a far tougher test on Wednesday in Hobart.

Karolina Pliskova vs Shuai Zhang, U.S Open R3 Preview

US Open, 🇺🇸🍎🗽🚕 R3 Preview + Prediction
(1) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs (27) 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang

World number 1 Karolina Pliskova survived a scare in the second round at Flushing Meadows, Pliskova was forced to came from a set down to defeat Nicole Gibbs and set up a third round clash with China’s Shuai Zhang. Pliskova will be happy to see Shuai Zhang in the third round, Pliskova holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Zhang and easily accounted for Zhang 6-2 6-0 in their most recent match in Doha earlier this year. Pliskova will be hoping for an improved performance on Saturday and another straightforward win over Zhang as she continues her quest to claim a maiden Grand Slam title and go one step better than her runner-up appearance in New York last year. 

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Magda Linette vs Shuai Zhang, New Haven R2 Preview

Connecticut Open, 🇺🇸🏫 New Haven preview + prediction
R2: (Q) 🇵🇱 Magda Linette vs 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang

Shuai Zhang caused the biggest upset of the opening round when she eliminated 3-time former champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets. Zhang claimed a surprisingly easy 6-2 6-1 win over Petra Kvitova on Monday night and will look to bring momentum from that big win into her second round clash with Magda Linette on Wednesday. In more good news for Zhang, she holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Linette heading into this second round clash at the Connecticut Open.

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Shuai Zhang vs Sara Errani, Miami R2 Preview

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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Varvara Lepchenko vs Shuai Zhang, Australian Open R3 Preview

Australian Open R3: Varvara Lepchenko vs (Q) Shuai Zhang

Shuai Zhang has been the biggest giant-killer at this year’s Australian Open. The Chinese qualifier has advanced to the third round courtesy of two stunning upsets over Simona Halep and Alize Cornet. Zhang’s Australian Open campaign continues on Saturday night when she takes on the experienced American Varvara Lepchenko in a third round clash.

Varvara Lepchenko has made a reasonable start to the season, showing good form in Brisbane where she reached the quarter-finals and is now into the third round at Melbourne Park for the second year in a row. Lepchenko advanced through to the third round courtesy of a three set victory over Lesia Tsurenko and a straight set victory over Lara Arruabarrena. Lepchenko now has a wonderful chance to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career when she comes up against a Chinese qualifier on Saturday night.

 

This has been the best week of Shuai Zhang’s career. Prior to this week the Zhang had a 0-14 record in Grand Slam main draws, she has certainly exceeded all expectations this week to come through qualifying and reach the third round. Zhang started the week by producing the biggest upset of the tournament thus far with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Simona Halep before backing up that victory impressively well to upset Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3. It must be said that Cornet played very poorly in that match.

Lepchenko won the only previous encounter between the pair, 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory in Eastbourne back in 2014. I suspect Lepchenko will again be too good for Zhang and finally end her miracle run in Melbourne. This will be a very different match for Zhang, she will not be allowed to dictate play like she was in her first two matches this week, I highly doubt she is going to be able to produce another upset here. Lepchenko is very experienced and will see this as a massive opportunity, I doubt she will waste it.

Prediction: Varvara Lepchenko to defeat Shuai Zhang in 2 sets