Daria Kasatkina vs. Sorana Cirstea, Madrid R2 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, R2 Preview
🇷🇺 (14) Daria Kasatkina vs. 🇷🇴 Sorana Cirstea

Daria Kasatkina and Sorana Cirstea will go head-to-head for the very first time when they meet at the second round stage of the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday. This looms as a great opportunity for both to gain some much needed confidence and kick-start their clay court campaigns after arriving in Madrid on the back of multiple opening round defeats.

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Kasatkina and Cirstea both arrives in Madrid having lost 3 matches in a row, both were able to break their losing steaks with hard-fought victories. Kasatkina claimed a 7-5 7-6 win over Qiang Wang whilst Cirstea defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-4 2-6 6-4.

It is Cirstea who has the far better recent record in Madrid. Cirstea has reached the quarter-final stage in Madrid in the last couple of years whilst Kasatkina has been defeated in the opening round in the last couple of years.

It will be interesting to see how this match pans out in their first career meeting.

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

Anastasija Sevastova vs Sorana Cirstea, Brisbane R2 Preview

Brisbane International, R2 Preview
(7) 🇱🇻 Anastasija Sevastova vs 🇷🇴 Sorana Cirstea

The 7th seeded Anastasija Sevastova will continue her 2018 campaign on Tuesday when she comes up against Sorana Cirstea in what should a strong challenge for the Latvian. Sevastova started the year in brilliant fashion with a straight set demolition of Samantha Stosur, the world number 16 will need to bring a similar level to the court against Cirstea as it is the Romanian who has won their two previous matches.

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Anastasija Sevastova started her season with a near-flawless performance, cruising past Samantha Stosur 6-1 6-3. Sevastova’s serve and clutch play under pressure were the standout aspects of her win. Sevastova saved all 5 break points she faced throughout the match, served 8 aces and won 82% of points behind her first serve.

Sorana Cirstea set up a second round clash with the 7th seeded Sevastova courtesy of a 7-6 6-1 win over Jennifer Brady. After a tight first set which featured no breaks of serve, Cirstea ran away with the match by winning 6 games in a row. Cirstea also put in a strong serving performance, the Romanian was broken once, hitting 6 aces and winning 82% of points behind her first serve.

Cirstea won the only two previous match between the pair, a 7-6 3-6 6-3 victory in Miami last year and a 6-3 6-0 win in Pattaya in 2013. Given Sevastova’s recent form she will be confident that she can turn those results around.

Monica Puig vs Sorana Cirstea, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌴🐬 R1 Match Preview
🇵🇷 Monica Puig vs 🇷🇴 Sorana Cirstea

An interesting opening round match-up at the Miami Open sees Monica Puig take on Sorana Cirstea. Both Puig and Cirstea possess extreme power and potential but both have generally struggled with inconsistency and injury in the case of Cirstea. Puig and Cirstea have both shown flashes of their best in 2017, both will be hoping for some more consistency moving forward, starting with a win here.

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Garbine Muguruza vs Sorana Cirstea, Australian Open R4 Preview

Australian Open, 🇦🇺🐨 Fourth Round Match Preview
(7) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs 🇷🇴 Sorana Cirstea

Garbine Muguruza looms as one of the main threats to win the title at Melbourne Park. The Spaniard has made a solid start to her Australian Open campaign, coming through her first three matches without dropping a set and seems to be playing with a more relaxed and mature attitude on court in season 2017. Muguruza will be a hot favourite for her fourth round encounter where she will come up against a resurgent Sorana Cirstea.

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2014 WTA Rogers Cup Montreal – Draw Preview/Predictions

Preparations for the U.S Open are in full swing as the tour heads to Montréal, the Rogers Cup is the biggest warn up tournament heading into Flushing Meadows. All the big guns will be in action this week in Canada. There are however two notable absentees, world number 2 Li Na and world number 3 Simona Halep. The star attraction at this years Rogers Cup will be the 5th seed Eugenie Boucahrd. This will be the Canadian’s first Rogers Cup competing as a legitimate contender and top 10 player. Defending champion Serena Williams is certainly the one to beat this week, the world number 1 is fit and fiery, coming off her third title in Stanford.

First Quarter – (1) Serena Williams vs (5) Eugenie Bouchard

The first quarter features some mouthwatering potential matches. At the top of the draw is the world number 1, Serena Williams. In her first tournament back after her bizarre exit from Wimbledon, the American was a little rusty but she was as competitive as ever on route to claiming her third title in Stanford. Serena is in great shape at the moment and will be extremely difficult to defeat this week. Serena receives a bye through to the second round where she will face either Sam Stosur or Monica Puig. Sam Stosur is currently going through a rough patch (even by her standards). The Australian number 1 is coming off a disastrous loss to 16-year-old Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.

15th Seed, Lucie Safarova faces last year’s finalist Sorana Cirstea in an important first round match. Given the amount of points Sorana Cirstea has to defend this week she will have an extraordinary amount of pressure on her in Montréal. In the live rankings Sorana has dropped 44 places, all the way down to number 80 in the world. Safarova leads the head-to-head 3-1 and will go into the match as the favourite on the back of her deep run at Wimbledon. However Lucie did lose her first round match in Washington to Kristina Mladenovic and it is certainly a winnable match for Sorana who showed some promising signs in Washington. I don't see anyone in this section troubling the world number 1 who should have no problems advancing to the quarter-finals.

Local favourite, Eugenie Bouchard also features in the top quarter. A potential blockbuster quarter-final looms between the Canadian rising star and world number 1 Serena Williams. After receiving a bye through the first round, Eugenie Bouchard will face either Tomljanovic or Shelby Rogers. The other seed in Genie’s section is 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, who will come up against Daniela Hantuchova in the opening round. The Dane has an impressive record against Daniela; she has won 6 of their 7 previous matches. Wozniacki will come into this event with a considerable amount of confidence having claimed her first title of the season in Istanbul a couple of weeks a go. Caroline Wozniacki and Eugenie Bouchard are on course for a third round meeting. This would be something to really look forward to, the two have never met and it would be interesting to see how a match between the two would pan out.

First round Predictions: Monica Puig to defeat Samantha Stosur in three sets, Alison Riske to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets, (15) Lucie Safarova to defeat Sorana Cirstea in three sets, (11) Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets, Kiki Bertens to defeat Klara Koukalova in three sets, Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Shelby Rogers in straight sets

Quarter-final 1 Prediction: (1) Serena Williams vs (11) Eugenie Bouchard

Second Quarter – (4) Maria Sharapova vs (6) Angelique Kerber

At the top of the second quarter is a resurgent Maria Sharapova. The Roland Garros Champion’s first match will likely be against Garbine Muguruza. Maria was forced to work extremely hard for her victory over the Spaniard in their recent battle in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros, she will need to be ready for a tough opening match if they are to meet in Montreal. 14th Seed Carla Suarez Navarro is Maria’s projected third round opponent. First, Carla will need to get past a tricky opening round match with Bojana Jovanovski. Washington D.C finalist Kurumi Nara also lurks in this section of the draw. For Maria, her biggest threat will be Garbine; if she can get past that hurdle she should have little trouble reaching the quarter-finals in Montreal.

Sixth seed Angelique Kerber arrives in Montreal fresh off a solid week in Stanford, where she reached her fourth final of the season. Unfortunately Angie came up short for the fourth time this year. Despite leading 5-1 and having two set points Angie was unable to close out the opening set and was made to pay by Serena who got better as the match went on. After her first round bye, Angie will face either Karin Knapp or Caroline Garcia in the second round before a potential third round match against Venus Williams. Venus faces a tough opening round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The head to head between the two stands at 2-2, Anastasia seems to be back in some decent form so it should be an extremely entertaining opening round match. 12th seed Flavia Pennetta will face qualifier Yulia Putintseva in the opening round. Putintseva will be no push over for the Italian. Pennetta hasn't played a match since Wimbledon, whilst Putintseva has already played a couple of tournaments on hard courts. I wouldn't be surprised to see an upset here.

A quarter-final match between Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova is on the cards.

First Round Predictions: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Stéphanie Dubois in straight sets, Kurumi Nara to defeat Yanina Wickmayer in three sets, (14) Carla Suarez Navarro to defeat Bojana Jovanovski in three sets, Yulia Putintseva to defeat (12) Flavia Pennetta in three sets, Venus Williams to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, Caroline Garcia to defeat Karin Knapp in three sets,

Quarter-final 2 Prediction: (4) Maria Sharapova vs (6) Angelique Kerber

Third Quarter – (8) Victoria Azarenka vs (3) Agnieszka Radwanska

Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska could be on track for a rematch of their famous quarter-final match at this years Australian Open. However both ladies have struggled in recent times. Victoria Azarenka is yet to find her a-game after returning from injury a couple of months a go and as a result of that she recently fell outside the top 10 for the first time in over two years. The Belarusian will face either Lauren Davis or Alize Cornet in her opening match before a potential third round match against 10th seeded Dominika Cibulkova. A tricky draw for Vika, but I think she is finally ready for her first deep run since returning from injury.

Third seed, Agnieszka Radwanska arrives in Montreal in the midst of one of her worst form slumps in recent years. The Pole suffered a shock loss in her opening match at the Bank of the West Classic, going down to Varvara Lepchenko in three sets. It was one of Aga's worst performances in recent years, she hit a whopping 42 unforced errors and was a shadow of her usual self. Aga reached the semi-finals here last year and will need another deep run if she is to avoid dropping out of the top 5 for the first time in a while. Aga has been dealt a relatively favorable draw; she will face either Barbora Zahlavova Strycova or Roberta Vinci in the opening round before a projected third round match against Sara Errani. 13th seed Sara Errani will have her work cut out setting up a third round match against the Pole. Errani faces Sabine Lisicki in the opening round and then could face another big hitter in the form of Madison Keys in the second round. I don't see Errani coming through this section. Unfortunately, It is also hard to see Aga having a good week in Montreal.

First Round Match Predictions: Alize Cornet to defeat Lauren Davis in three sets, Heather Watson to defeat Tereza Smitkova in straight sets, (10) Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Francoise Abanda in straight sets, Sabine Lisicki to defeat (13) Sara Errani in straight sets, Madison Keys to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, Roberta Vinci to defeat Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in three sets

Quarter-Final 3 Prediction: (8) Victoria Azarenka vs Madison Keys

Fourth Quarter – (7) Jelana Jankovic vs (2) Petra Kvitova

Jelana Jankovic and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will be in action for the first time since contrasting performances at SW19. Jelana Jankovic comes into this event having lost three matches in a row but she will be glad to be back on the hard courts in North America. After a bye through the opening round, Jelana will likely face the unseeded Sloane Stephens who also arrives in Montréal having lost three straight matches. Jelana defeated Sloane in three tight sets last year in Cincinnati in what was their first and only encounter. Also in this section of the draw is 9th seed Ana Ivanovic who will likely be the third round opponent of the winner of the match between Sloane and Jelana. Ana Ivanovic pushed Serena all the way in Stanford last week, but a hip injury ultimately hindered her chances. If Ana is fit and ready she should progress through this section into the quarter-finals.

Petra Kvitova returns to action for the first time since her triumph at Wimbledon. The second seed will be looking to back up her second Grand Slam title with a solid North American hard court season. After her first round bye, Petra will face either Casey Dellacqua or Kirsten Flipkens. Dellacqua has defeated Flipkens in both of their previous meetings, both taking place on hard courts in 2014. This section is full of lefties; the unseeded Ekaterina Makarova could be a real test for Petra in the third round. Makarova will likely face the 16th seeded Andrea Petkovic in the second round. Andrea is fresh off a solid week in Stanford where she reached the semi-finals before eventually succumbing to Serena Williams in straight sets. Andrea faces a tough opening round opponent, the Italian Camila Giorgi. Giorgi has defeated Andrea in both of their two previous meeting, both on hard courts in 2014. This bottom section is probably the toughest little section of the draw to predict.

First Round Match Predictions: Sloane Stephens to defeat Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets, Coco Vandeweghe to defeat Shuai Zhang in three sets, Ana Ivanovic to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets, Camila Giorgi to defeat (16) Andrea Petkovic in three sets, Ekaterina Makarova to defeat Romina Oprandi in straight sets, Casey Dellacqua to defeat Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets

Quarter-final 4 prediction: (9) Ana Ivanovic vs Camila Giorgi

WTAAddict Final Prediction: (1) Serena Williams def. (8) Victoria Azarenka

I am very confident in picking Serena Williams to go all the way in Montréal. The world number 1 traditionally plays her best tennis on hard courts in North America and in recent seasons has rarely been defeated. I would not be surprised to see Serena go unbeaten during the whole U.S Open series. To me she has regrouped and will come out and play better than ever before. Stanford was the perfect warm up for the American, a fourth title of the season. I think Vika is ready for her first deep run since returning from injury. Petra may well reach the final; she will either lose early or go all the way.

Let me know what you think, please leave a comment below ☺

WTA Citi Open – Washington D.C – Tournament Preview

Whilst the U.S Open series kicks off with a premier event in Stanford, the Citi Open in Washington D.C promises to be an entertaining sideshow. The event has amassed a rather strong field for an International Event with 8 of the world’s top 30 players in action in the nations capital.

Magdalena Rybarikova comes into the Citi Open as the two time defending champion. The Slovakian is currently on a four match losing streak and will have her work cut out defending her title in Washington D.C.

Eugenie Bouchard was set to be the headline act in Washington. The Canadian is having a stellar season having made the semi-finals in Melbourne and Paris and recently making the final at Wimbledon before being blown off the park by Petra Kvitova. Genie decided to withdraw from the event citing a vague medical issue, perhaps a wise move given the amount of tennis her young body has endured already this season. She is now a legitimate Grand Slam contender and doesn't really need to be taking part in events like this.

Sloane Stephens still desperately seeks her first career title, the American has been a little more consistent this season but overall her results haven’t been satisfactory, As a result the American recently decided to split with her coach Paul Annacone. I have a feeling this could be Sloane’s week at last.

A host of other noteworthy players are in action at the Citi Open. The always-entertaining Alize Cornet will be looking for a big American hard court swing after some promising results scattered throughout the season. Cornet has of course defeated Serena Williams twice and also defeated Agnieszka Radwanska on route to her first and only title of the season in Katowice.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kirsten Flipkens and Sorana Cirstea will also be in action at the Citi Open, these three will be desperate to string a couple of wins together after having disappointing seasons. Pavlyuchenkova started the year off well but has recently been hampered by injury.

Dangerous lefties Lucie Safarova and Ekaterina Makarova will be a threat to any opponents who cross their paths in Washington, both will be looking to for a deep run heading into the U.S Open series. Both ladies had deep runs at Wimbledon. Safarova had a breakthrough tournament, reaching the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. Makarova reached the quarter-finals before being belted by Lucie 6-3 6-1.

Young American talents Madison Keys, Christina McHale, Lauren Davis and Alison Riske will be looking to take the next step during the American hard court swing. Based on their respective results this season (especially Madison Keys) I wouldn't be surprised to see either one of them achieve some breakthrough results in the next few weeks.

Number 1 seed Lucie Safarova has been dealt a tricky first round match against Kristina Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman has been quite busy over the past few weeks, reaching the semi-finals in Istanbul before reaching the quarter-finals at the Baku Cup. The other seeded player in the top quarter, Madison Keys also faces a tricky first round opponent. The American faces Kurumi Nara who is certainly capable of causing an upset. Despite all this both Lucie and Madison should both proceed to the quarter-finals to set up a third career meeting.

Quarter-Final 1 Prediction: (1) Lucie Safarova vs (7) Madison Keys

Third seed Alize Cornet will take on local wild card Shelby Rogers in the opening round. The American recently had a breakthrough week on clay in Bad Gastein, defeating Sara Errani on route to the final before falling to Andrea Petkovic in straight sets. Alize should be able to make her way through this section of the draw with the out of form Sorana Cirstea being the other seeded player in this quarter. Cirstea faces Kiki Bertens in the opening round; on current form I think Bertens is very capable of defeating the Romanian. The winner of this match will likely face Bojana Jovanovski, I like the Serbs chances of reaching the quarters.

Quarter-Final 2 Prediction: (3) Alize Cornet vs Bojana Jovanovski

The third quarter is perhaps the toughest and features some interesting first round matches. Most noteworthy is the match between fourth seeded Sloane Stephens and compatriot Christina McHale (it will be the first meeting between the two). Sloane is still yet to win a title, with the withdrawal of Eugenie I would say she is now the favourite to go all the way in Washington. The first round match between unseeded players Heather Watson and Kirsten Flipkens is another one to look out for. The winner of that match will face either Kuznetsova or Hercog.

Quarter-Final 3 Prediction: Heather Watson vs (4) Sloane Stephens

The final section features second seed Ekaterina Makarova and fifth seeded compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Makarova had a brilliant run in London, the Russian is becoming a little more consistent and will be a threat to anyone she comes up against during the U.S Open series. Makarova comes up against two time defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova in the opening round. On current form Makarova should be far too strong. Pavlyuchenkova faces Razzano In the opening round before a likely match up against Alison Riske in the second round. I wouldn't be surprised to see Riske have a deep run in Washington.

Quarter-Final 4 Prediction: Alison Riske vs (2) Ekaterina Makarova

Final Prediction: Sloane Stephens def. Madison Keys:

It will be a fascinating week in Washington, a good chance for a number of ladies to claim a rare title. The spotlight will be on Sloane Stephens to finally claim her first title, on this occasion I don't think she will disappoint. Madison Keys really impressed me in Eastbourne but injury derailed her Wimbledon campaign, assuming she is fit and ready to go she should have a good week in Washington.